CASPER, Wyo. – A year ago, Kaden Greenfield was a sophomore at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon, and had just qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo.
He arrived at the Ford Wyoming Center with high hopes and came away with lessons learned. Now, as a junior at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, he hopes to utilize that schooling to his advantage as he battles for the steer wrestling national championship.
“Last year when I was there, I was a little bit star struck when I first started,” said Greenfield, the son of seven-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier Shawn Greenfield. “I think going in this year will help with the nerves since I’ve been there before.”
He knocked down two of three steers and finished 24th overall. Still, it was an incredible experience, one that carried over into his first year in the Central Plains Region, a circuit made up primarily from colleges in Oklahoma and Kansas. He knew attending Northwestern could give him an edge; the rodeo program is coached by eight-time NFR qualifier Stockton Graves and has been nicknamed the “Bulldogging Capital of College Rodeo.”
“I’d say we were in one of the toughest regions as far as steer wrestling goes,” said Greenfield, who won the regional title. “The guys from our region that are going with me are good, too, and I’ve had to battle with them all year long. I think that will help prepare me even more.”
The college finale takes place June 12-18 and will feature the top three contestants in each event – and the top two teams – from each region. It is where national champions will be crowned, and the Oregon cowboy would love to etch his name on the bulldogging crown.
If he could pull that off, he would be the third Northwestern steer wrestler to have claimed a college title in the last seven years; J.D. Struxness was the first in 2016, and Bridger Anderson followed in 2019. In addition, breakaway roper Taylor Munsell also scored a national crown in 2019.
Besides handling the rigors of the Central Plains’ 10-event season, Greenfield is also preparing himself by competing at PRCA rodeos around the country. He is the No. 4-ranked steer wrestler in the Resistol Rookie of the Year race with four months remaining on the ProRodeo season.
“When you go to ProRodeos, you’re going against everyone: world champions, NFR qualifiers and everyone else,” he said. “You have to bring you’re ‘A Game’ to that every time, so I think that helps you prepare as much as anything else you can do. It also helps with the mindset.”
He will be riding his horse, Rev, a 16-year-old sorrel gelding he’s had for five years and will rely on fellow region bulldogger Mason Couch of Southeastern Oklahoma State University as his hazer. Greenfield knows the obstacles that are in front of him, and he has no plans to go around them; it’s faster to go through them.
“The college finals can be tough, because it’s in a little (building), and there are more pressure-packed situations you get into in there,” Greenfield said. “I want to go in there and take care of business but have fun doing it. That’s what it’s about.” That … and winning a national championship.