ALVA, Okla. – When Lacey Geiger was looking for the next level of her education, she had some specific details she needed to hopefully finish her degree.
She found them in Northwestern Oklahoma State University and its rodeo coach Stockton Graves. That’s when she opted to move from Central Arizona College to Alva to not only earn her bachelor’s degree but to also compete among the best in the Central Plains Region.
“I was looking for a bachelor’s program in something that suited my degree,” said Geiger, a fourth-year student from Emmett, Idaho. “I saw Northwestern had a good rodeo program and that Stockton was the coach, and he has fantastic credentials. The school looked promising and had what I needed.”
She proved the choice was right this past weekend when she shared the breakaway roping victory at the Fort Scott (Kansas) Community College rodeo; Geiger and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M’s Bailey Stuva finished the rodeo with a two-run aggregate of 5.7 seconds to split the title. With that, Geiger moved into second place in the regional standings, just 10 points behind Stuva.
“It was a great experience, and my horse worked fantastic,” Geiger said of Oatie, a 15-year-old sorrel gelding she’s had for two years. “I couldn’t have asked for a better support team, a better coach or a better horse. Everything just happened to work in my favor.
“To me, this is a pretty tough region, so for me to get a little bit of breathing room is important. It’s definitely something that will help me in the long run.”
The goal is to finish among the leaders when the region’s season concludes in late April to earn a spot in the field at the College National Finals Rodeo; only the top two teams and the top three individuals in each event advance to Casper, Wyoming, to battle for the national titles. While she hasn’t earned a shot at that level yet, it’s something the Idaho cowgirl has been building toward through her college career.
“I’ve definitely learned a lot in college rodeo, and it’s a completely different game coming from high school and junior rodeo,” she said. “I had to get used to it and had to build my skills and confidence in order to get here and get to placing again. I think now that it’s my fourth year and I haven’t made the CNFR yet, it gives me more motivation to make the college finals. It’s definitely a goal of mine.”
It’s likely the goal of the hundreds of talented intercollegiate contestants battling through the rigors of the Central Plains season. The rodeo in Fort Scott was the sixth of 10 events on the calendar, and it was a turning point for Geiger and several others.
She was joined in the championship round by fellow Ranger breakaway ropers Jentri Hulbert of Arcadia, Nebraska, and Jayden Jensen of Fallon, Nevada. Barrel racer Samantha Chambers of Calhan, Colorado, placed in the opening round, then won the short round to finish second overall. She moved up to third in the region.
The Northwestern men were led by their top-of-the line group of steer wrestlers, which featured six cowboys earning points, including the top four led by Emmett Edler of State Center, Iowa, who finished fifth in the first round, won the championship round and had the best two-run aggregate to claim the title. He jumped up to second in the regional standings.
Central Plains leader Kaden Greenfield of Lakeview, Oregon, added to his lead by winning the first round and finishing second in the short round and average. Tyler Scheevel of Lester Prairie, Minnesota, finished third overall after splitting second in the opening round with teammate Jacob Haren of Erie, Colorado, who placed third overall. Tevin Cowen of Harrold, South Dakota, and DeQuan Laskey of Jones, Oklahoma, tied for sixth in the opening round.
In addition to his success in bulldogging, Haren also added key points as a header while roping with Ry Clark of Oklahoma Panhandle State University; they placed in the opening round and tied for the short-round win to finish second in team roping. Scheevel also scored important points in tie-down roping, placing fifth overall. As a heeler, Rhett Murray of Alma, Kansas, placed fourth in the short round and overall while roping with header Rhett Conkling of Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
As the Rangers teams focus attention toward the final four events of the season, they have many positives to take from Fort Scott. It’s the final push to see who will walk away with the coveted regional titles and be among the qualifiers to the college finals.
“If you have a coach like Stockton, who is constantly enforcing confidence and hard work and doing the little things right, it definitely helps you as a competitor,” Geiger said. “He’s big into the mental game, which you need in rodeo. He’s definitely a respectable competitor, and I respect him a lot as a coach. He not only helps us in rodeo itself, but he helps us in getting our minds right and pushing us to do well in practice and to work hard.
“That’s what it takes to win at any level.”