ALVA, Okla. – Samantha Chambers has always considered herself an all-around cowgirl, but she didn’t have much chance to showcase it during her first two years of intercollegiate rodeo while attending Northwestern Oklahoma State University.
“During my freshman year, my breakaway roping horse died unexpectedly, so I have been hopping around on horses trying to figure out a horse that would work for me,” said Chambers, a junior from Calhan, Colorado. “The horse that died was elite, so it was hard to replace him. Being able to finally click with my new breakaway horse and get points was an amazing feeling.”
At Fort Scott, Kansas, this past weekend, Chambers roped her first-round calf in 3.3 seconds to finish in a tie for sixth place and earn a trip to the championship round. She wasn’t able to land success in the short-go, but the confidence she gained was immediate with her and Casper, a 23-year-old gray gelding.
“We had him for about 10 years, and he was my sister’s horse,” she said. “She was going to college, so we sold him to a couple of little girls, and he went there to teach them how to breakaway rope and run barrels.”
The family reacquired Casper, and it’s making for a nice story for the family.
“Knowing the history and the situation we were in, it was perfect,” Chambers said. “If we are able to keep him healthy, he is just what we need in a breakaway horse.”
Her biggest success in Fort Scott came in barrel racing, where she won the short round, placed in the long round and finished second overall, just six-hundredths of a second behind the champ. Like Casper before him, Chambers’ barrel horse has an interesting tale, too. Crossfire is an 8-year-old palomino gelding that has put the Colorado cowgirl into contention to earn a bid for the college finals.
“My two barrel horses died right before I came to college my freshman year, and he was the last barrel horse available, so I hopped on him,” she said. “He only had four months of training when we came to college my freshman year, and it happened to be the Fort Scott rodeo that I made the first short round on him that year. That was amazing, because we didn’t think we’d do anything my freshman year with how little he knew.”
The young yellow horse was figuring it out pretty quickly. With the 140 point she earned in southeastern Kansas, Chambers should move into the top five in the Central Plains Region standings. Only the top three in the standings in each event when the 10-rodeo season comes to a close later this spring will advance to the College National Finals Rodeo, set for June in Casper, Wyoming.
“It’s all about teamwork, knowing your horse,” she said. “It’s about knowing each other and creating an ever-lasting bond.”
While Chambers led the Northwestern women, there were several Rangers men who collected points. All-around cowboy Tyler Scheevel of Lester Prairie, Minnesota, scored points in two events. He finished fifth in the first round of tie-down roping, then was saddled with a long run in the short-go.
Roping with header Rhett Conkling of Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Scheevel stopped the clock in 7.7 seconds to finish just out of placing in the first round, then finished third in the final round and the average. Northwestern team of header Wyatt Vanorsdol of Bristow, Oklahoma, and heeler Jayden Laubhan of Follett, Texas, placed fifth in the long round with a 6.6-second run. They had a no-time in the final round but still finished sixth overall. The Kansas duo of Camden Holting of Olpe and Austin Lampe of Dodge City finished sixth in the long round.
Tie-down roper Levi Sechrist of Mountain View, Oklahoma, placed in both rounds and finished fifth in the aggregate. In steer wrestling, Kaden Greenfield of Lakeview, Oregon, and Isaiah Naauao of Haiku, Hawaii, placed in the first round, while Jeremy Plourde of Carleton, Michigan, finished sixth in the short round.
For Chambers, attending Northwestern was a no-brainer. She followed in the lines of her cousins – Hunter, Taylor and Lindy Munsell of Arnett, Oklahoma – to Alva.
“We have a bunch of family (from western Oklahoma), and I already loved Oklahoma from always coming down here and visiting with them,” Chambers said. “I love the thought of being close to family, which was the biggest reason I decided on Northwestern.
“After I came to college, I loved the small-town feel. Alva’s actually a little bigger than my hometown, but it’s still small enough for me to enjoy it.”