DUNCAN, Okla. – The greatest cowboys and cowgirls always seem to be in the field of ProRodeo’s biggest championships.
That is true, whether it’s the National Finals Rodeo, the sport’s grand finale that takes place in December, and the Chisholm Trail RAM Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday at the Stephens County Arena in Duncan.
This week’s list of elite contestants boasts of more than 30 that have played or will play on the sport’s premier stage, a defining factor in showcasing the type of talent that resides in the region made up of challengers and events primarily from Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.
“We like to look at this as a mini-NFR,” said Joe Henderson, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the circuit finale. “We have some of the best stock contractors in rodeo that are part of the Prairie Circuit, and we have some of the best contestants. If you look at the talent that will be involved in our rodeo, you can see why we’re excited to bring it to town every year.”
The field includes five cowboys that have been crowned world champions, men like steer ropers Rocky Patterson and his son, Cole, who account for five gold buckles between them; Rocky Patterson is a four-time world champion, and Cole Patterson is the reigning titlist. The list also includes steer wrestler Jacob Edler, header Nick Sartain and tie-down roper Ryan Jarrett, who was the 2005 all-around world champion.
Jarrett is one of the locals in the field. He lives just miles from the Stephens County Expo Center in nearby Comanche, Oklahoma, and he is also a former circuit titlist. Sartain won his gold buckle in 2009, while Edler was crowned in 2020.
Edler leads a contingent of 12 bulldoggers, a group that includes seven NFR qualifiers: Stockton Graves, Riley Duvall, Tanner Brunner, Bridger Anderson, Cody Devers and Blake Mindemann. Brunner just solidified his fourth qualification in five years.
Team ropers are led by Sartain, but also in the mix are headers Andrew Ward, Coleman Proctor and Bubba Buckaloo and heelers Buddy Hawkins, Logan Medlin, Billie Jack Saebens and Joseph Harrison. Ward and Hawkins set the new standard for the fastest 10-run cumulative time at the NFR last December.
In addition to the Pattersons, there are five other steer ropers who have qualified for the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping, including Thomas Smith, Roger Branch, Mike Chase and Chet Herren. Jarrett will be joined in the tie-down roping field by Trent Creager, who earned his NFR bid in 2010.
Two-time National Finals Breakaway Roping qualifier Taylor Munsell will be joined this year by Beau Peterson in Las Vegas, while Leslie Smalygo will make her initial trip to the Nevada desert and will be joined by fellow barrel racer Emily Beisel. Tamara Reinhardt, a past circuit titlist, also is a past NFR qualifier.
Saddle bronc riders Tyrel Larsen and Hardy Braden both have had success in the region and have competed at the NFR in the past, while bull rider Trey Holston is making his first NFR.
“The circuit finals is a great way for the top talent in our part of the world to fight for another championship,” Henderson said. “The circuit system was developed to showcase the best talent in the various regions of the country, and I’d say the Prairie Circuit is tough to beat as far as having the best talent overall.
“We’ve got world champions and NFR qualifiers at our rodeo every year, and they come to Duncan to put on a show and prove why this is the best circuit in the country.”