ALVA, Okla. – Tucker Huffman will graduate from Northwestern Oklahoma State University this coming Saturday, but he’s already received a pretty nice present.
Actually, he gifted it to himself this past weekend. Huffman, a senior from Mutual, Oklahoma, posted the fastest tie-down roping run of the Doc Gardner Memorial Rodeo presented by Oklahoma Panhandle State University at Hitch Arena in Guymon, Oklahoma.
He roped and tied his calf in 9.2 seconds to win the championship round Saturday afternoon and move up to second place in the aggregate with a two-run cumulative time of 20.7 seconds.
“It was a good feeling to know I went out on a high note and competed how you want to,” Huffman said. “I really wanted to make the college finals this last year, but I needed to have that kind of rodeo all year instead of just the last one if I was going to do that.”
That’s just part of it. The Central Plains Region is tough in all events, which makes it so difficult to win on a consistent level. Of all the events, Northwestern had just one contestant, steer wrestler Kaden Greenfield of Lakeview, Oregon, come away with a regional title.
He finished second in the long round but was unable to compete in the short round; he was part of the Rookie Roundup, which conducted its final go-round at the same time Saturday as the last performance in Guymon. Greenfield won the championship at the rodeo in Fort Worth, Texas, and his first-round run in the Oklahoma Panhandle helped him clinch the regional title.
“Our region is super tough across the board,” Huffman said. “There are so many guys that can compete that you can’t slack off any if you want to be at the top.”
While the season was disappointing, the Oklahoma cowboy didn’t let that bother him when it came time to nod his head in the large, outdoor arena. All tie-down ropers ran fresh calves in the first round, meaning the cattle had never been through a rodeo pen and chute system before they were released into competition. The better calves were used in the final go-round.
“When we got down to the final round, I was just going for it all,” he said. “It was the last one, so you might as well. I didn’t have anything to lose. Stockton and I were talking right before my short-round calf, and I was the first guy out. I told Stockton, ‘I’ll just run him like he’s fresh again,’ and it seemed to work out.”
Two other Rangers tie-down ropers joined Huffman in the championship round: Kade Chace of Cherokee, Oklahoma, finished fourth in the first round with a 10.1 second run, and Kerry Duvall of Farmington, California, was fifth in 10.4. Chace was unable to secure a catch in the short round, but Duvall stopped the clock in 11.5 seconds to finish fifth again; his two-run aggregate of 21.9 was good enough for third overall.
The team ropers were led by header Stran Morris of Woodward, Oklahoma, who won the first round, finished third in the final round and second overall while roping with Jordan Lovins of Western Oklahoma State College. The Northwestern teams of Jaden Trimble of Coffeyville, Kansas, and Brandon Hittle of Topeka, Kansas, placed in the short round and finished in a tie for fourth, while T.W. Carson of Gate, Oklahoma, and Cole Koppitz of Alva finished third in the opening round.
With that, the 10-event Central Plains Region season is over. It is the first time in two years that the Rangers were able to compete in all 10 rodeos; the 2020 season was canceled because of the pandemic, and the 2021 campaign had at least one cancelation. That gave the Northwestern cowboys and cowgirls more opportunities, and that’s all they had asked for.
“I decided to come to Northwestern because of the atmosphere,” Huffman said. “I had a lot of friends that went to school there that said they really liked it. I get to rope all the time. Where I live, there are probably seven arenas within five miles of my place.
“Everybody’s really friendly and lets you rope, and everybody’s always helping each other to get better.”
After graduation, he will return home to Mutual to handle his business as a cattleman. He’ll rodeo some through the summer, then plans to try his hand at PRCA rodeos starting in the 2023 season. He realizes that he has something special in Thomasita, a 12-year-old mare that helped him find success in Guymon.
“She’s the best horse I’ve ever swung a leg over,” Huffman said. “This is the second year I’ve been riding her, and she’s a big part of any success I get. She’s a bit jittery in the box, but she’s always on go and always stops hard and puts me in position I need to be in.
“If you don’t have a good horse, you can’t make a good run in calf roping.”