ALVA, Okla. – The Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo teams have high expectations.
To meet them, they must handle the rigors of the 10-event National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s Central Plains Region. It all starts Friday, Sept. 21-Sunday, Sept. 23, at the Colby (Kan.) Community College Rodeo.
“Between the kids returning and the ones who are new, I think we’ve got a lot of talent,” said Stockton Graves, the Northwestern rodeo coach who took over the program last November. “I think everybody’s excited to see what we can do and what we need to work on after Colby.”
They are. Senior Collin Domer of Topeka, Kan., is the lone returner who qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo last season. He knows the talent level on the Rangers team but also realizes just how tough competition is in the region, which is made up of teams primarily from Kansas and Oklahoma.
“Stockton brought in a bunch of new recruits that are really talented, and there are a bunch of freshman that are already a step ahead of the game,” said Domer, a team roper who again will pair with his brother, Ryan, a fall transfer to Northwestern from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. “We have all but one girl that was part of last year’s team.”
The women’s team showed promise a season ago, winning three event titles. Even though the ladies failed to qualify one member to the college finale last June in Casper, Wyo., there was tremendous growth in a group that featured a number of young cowgirls.
“We had a young girls team last year, and they’re going to know a little more,” Collin Domer said. “I think we have a lot of talent on both teams. These transfers and freshmen are new to the region, and they’re going to be a little gun-shy at the first one.
“The ones that have been here are the seasoned veterans now. That is going to help us out much more than it did last year.”
What advantage do the Northwestern contestants have over the field?
“I think one of the really big things that’s helped is that even before he was the coach, Stockton has been here and has been involved in practice,” Domer said, noting that Graves is a seven-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier in steer wrestling. “Shannon Frascht still lives here, so he comes to practice with us.”
Frascht is a team roper who qualified for the NFR in 2006 and is a four-time year-end champion in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Prairie Circuit.
“A lot of those guys want to come back and help, and we get to have the benefit of that,” Domer said.