DUNCAN, Okla. – When the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals commences later this week, it will be a preview of ProRodeo’s grand championship, the National Finals Rodeo.
First and foremost, it’s the regional finale for the Prairie Circuit, which is made up of rodeos and contestants primarily from Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. But there are so many top-quality contestants in the circuit that it looks like a mini-NFR.
The circuit finals – set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14-Saturday, Oct. 16, at the Stephens County Arena in Duncan – will feature eight contestants that will also make a run for the world championships in their respective events at the NFR in December. It will also be the place that will showcase one-third of the qualifiers to the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping, which takes place next month.
The highlight will be Ryan Jarrett of nearby Comanche, Oklahoma, who this year has earned his 14th qualification to the NFR. The 2005 all-around world champion leads the circuit’s all-around standings and is in the mix for the tie-down roping title.
The steer ropers heading to Kansas in November are led by Cole Patterson, the No. 1 cowboy in the standings, and his dad, Rocky Patterson, a four-time world champion. Also in the mix at both the circuit finals and the NFSR are Mike Chase, Chet Herren and Thomas Smith.
Steer wrestling in this region has been a hot spot for the greatest in the world for decades, and that continues in 2021. Stockton Graves leads the pack of three bulldoggers heading to Las Vegas, including four-time finalist Riley Duvall and first-timer Cody Devers. Graves is the rodeo coach at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, and Devers was one of his former student-athletes.
The team roping tandem of header Andrew Ward and heeler Buddy Hawkins will return together to the NFR for the second year in a row. This marks Hawkins’ fourth trip to the finals. They are the defending year-end champions in the Prairie Circuit.
Barrel racer Emily Miller Beisel, a past circuit titlist, has earned her third straight NFR qualification, while bareback rider Garrett Shadbolt is riding the momentum of last year’s circuit-finals victory into the Nevada desert for the first time.
The history of greatness in the region dates back decades, with world champions like Jarrett, the Etbauer brothers, Roy Duvall, Ote Berry and Janae Ward Massey, just to name a few. This year’s field of circuit finalists includes several former qualifiers: tie-down roper Tyler Milligan; bull rider Trevor Kastner; saddle bronc riders Hardy Braden and Colt Gordon; heelers Billie Jack Saebens and Shannon Frascht; barrel racers Tamara Reinhardt and Tracy Nowlin; and steer ropers Brodie Poppino and Roger Branch.
The best in the world like to prove themselves close to home, and many of them will do it later this week.