ALVA, Okla. – Sometimes competitors just need to make a call for help.
Kerry Duvall did that after struggling at the first three rodeos of the 2021-22 Central Plains Region season, and the freshman tie-down roper at Northwestern Oklahoma State University has already seen the benefits.
He made two solid runs to win the overall title at the Northwestern rodeo at the Alva Dome this past weekend. His 9.9-second run was good enough for fourth in the opening round; he followed that with a 10.7-second run to win the championship round and claim the two-run aggregate by four-tenths of a second.
“It means a lot because I hadn’t made the short-go the three previous rodeos,” said Duvall of Farmington, California. “I have been struggling with my roping, so it felt really good to come out and put in a good run in the long round, then come out and put another solid run in the short-go.
“Just being a freshman that was able to win the hometown rodeo and keep the calf roping title in Alva is a big deal to me.”
After opening the season toward the bottom end, Duvall reached into his bag of tricks to make the adjustments needed. It seems, though, most of the changes came within his own mind.
“I just made some phone calls to some good buddies back home, and they helped me pick up my spirits,” he said. “I’m glad they helped me see things from a different perspective, to see that I wasn’t doing anything wrong. Things just weren’t working out for me.”
The positive thoughts were wrapped tightly to two successful runs and the first intercollegiate title for the recent graduate of Oakdale (California) High School, where he also saw great success. With the Alva rodeo being the final event of the 2021 calendar year, he hopes the momentum gained will carry over into the spring portion of the region campaign.
Of course, it helps that he has a partner he can trust in Tanna, an 11-year-old bay mare that he’s had about two years.
“She’s a super sweet mare, and she always gives me the same trip every time,” Duvall said. “I never have to worry about whether I have enough horsepower. I knew she would go out there and try her heart out.”
In fact, he gave Tanna a test drive a couple seasons ago at the Alva Dome, and that parlayed into him deciding on Northwestern as his college choice.
“I found out about the school when I came out to try that horse, and I really liked the coach,” Duvall said of Stockton Graves, who is in his 10th season coaching his alma mater. “It’s a small school in a small town. It’s also a great place to rodeo out of. You’re right in the heart of it all, whether it’s college rodeo, amateur rodeo or even ProRodeo. We’re centrally located to about everything.”
While Duvall had the greatest success over the weekend, there were others who found their way into the top spots. Team roping brothers Reed and Rhett Murray from Alma, Kansas, put together two solid runs to finish second overall. Header Ben Jackson of Hudson Hope, British, Columbia, placed in both rounds and finished fifth overall while roping with Jackson Choate of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.
Header Stran Morris of Woodward, Oklahoma, stopped the clock in 6.1 seconds to finish second in the opening round while roping with Jordan Lovins of Western Oklahoma State College, and the Ranger team of Camden Hoelting of Olpe, Kansas, and Austin Lampe of Dodge City, Kansas finished the first round in a tie for third place.
In steer wrestling, Tyler Scheevel of Lester Prairie, Minnesota, led the way by finishing sixth overall; he also finished third in the opening round. Lee Sterling of Gotebo, Oklahoma, stopped the clock in 5.5 seconds to finish sixth in the opening round, while Beau Kelley of Artesia, New Mexico finished sixth in the short round.
Samantha Chambers of Calhan, Colorado, led the way for the Northwestern women. She placed in the opening round of barrel racing, then won the short round with a 12.90-second run to finish second overall. Hannah Zimmers of Eureka, Kansas, earned her way to the championship round in breakaway roping, where she finished sixth in the round and sixth overall.
While success has been limited over the first four rodeos of the season, there is a considerable amount of optimism among the contestants rodeoing for Northwestern.
“I think we’ve got a good team, but we’ve just got to keep hustling to see if we can get on that roll that we need,” Duvall said.