Driggers, Graves like the No. 1 spot

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DODGE CITY, Kan. – It’s just been four months, but the team roping partnership of header Kaleb Driggers and heeler Travis Graves seems to be working quite well.

They’re No. 1 in the world standings, both having earned more than $75,000 since joining forces in March – Driggers has pocketed $75,904, while Graves has $79,012. They own at least a $10,000 lead over the No. 2 cowboys on the money list, and they’re a lock to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the year-end championship that takes place in December in Las Vegas.

Kaleb Driggers
Kaleb Driggers

They’re also the No. 1 team at the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo heading into the final two days of competition and have virtually clinched their spot in the championship round that is scheduled for 8 p.m. Sunday night at Roundup Rodeo and features the top 12 contestants and teams in each event from the preliminary rounds.

“It means a lot to do well here, because it hasn’t been a good week for us,” said Driggers, a two-time NFR qualifier from Albany, Ga. “Actually, it’s been pretty tough the last two or three weeks. It’s been kind of a dry slump for us, but if you can win, you can keep it rolling.

“When you’re not winning, you seem to try too hard and mess things up. Today I just wanted to take my time and get my steers down.”

That’s a valuable lesson and something the tandem did quite well Friday. They scored a 5.1-second run and sit fifth in the opening go-round in the morning, then followed that with a 4.8 (placing third in the second round) during the third performance. Their cumulative time of 9.9 seconds gives them a two-tenths of a second lead over the current runners-up, Erich Rogers of Round Rock, Ariz., and Cory Petska of Marana, Ariz.

Travis Graves
Travis Graves

“We had a pretty good steer, and we made a really good run,” said Graves, a four-time NFR qualifier from Jay, Okla. “My partner set him up so I could heel him quick.”

It’s a good start to the weekend, and it’s a big step for Graves. Because Dodge City is just 400 miles from his northeastern Oklahoma home, he’s always wanted to do well in the Old West town.

“This is the biggest rodeo, by far, in this part of the country,” said Graves, who admitted he hasn’t had much success inside Roundup Arena. “That’s why it’s such a big deal to me, because since I was a little kid, Dodge City was the biggest rodeo I’d ever heard of.”

Driggers, though, has seen his share of success. He’s qualified for the short go-round twice in a career that began in 2009 and has placed every year he’s competed in Dodge City. A year ago, he and then-partner Brad Culpepper won the second go-round.

“I like this rodeo, but once you’ve rodeod for a little bit, you figure out where your spots are,” Driggers said. “This is one of those for me.”

Now the tandem hopes to build on its lead in the standings.

“Our goal is to keep doing what we’re doing and finish it,” Graves said.

It starts by finishing well this weekend in southwest Kansas.

Dodge City Roundup Rodeo
Dodge City, Kan.
July 31-Aug. 4
Bareback riding:
1. Luke Creasy, 83 points on Harry Vold Rodeo’s Breezy Weather; 2. R.C. Landingham, 82; 3. Tim O’Connell, 81; 4. Seth Hardwick, 80; 5. (tie) Tom McFarland and Tilden Hooper, 79; 7. (tie) Caleb Bennett, Brian Bain and Tyler Scales, 77.

Steer wrestling: First round leaders: 1. Casey Martin, 4.2 seconds; 2. Matt Reeves, 4.3; 3. Chad Van Campen, 4.4; 4. Ty Willick, 4.5; 5. (tie) Bray Armes Seth Brockman, 4.6; 7. Riley Duvall, 4.9; 8. (tie) Jacob Shofner, Jule Hazen and Shayde Etherton, 5.0. Second round leaders: 1. Bray Armes, 3.2 seconds; 2. Casey Martin, 4.0; 3. (tie) Ben Shofner, John Kloeckler and Jason Thomas, 4.1; 6. Dru Melvin, 4.2; 7. Kody Woodward, 4.3; 8. Wade Sumpter, 4.7. Average leaders: 1. Bray Armes, 7.8 seconds on two runs; 2. Casey Martin, 8.2; 3. Seth Brockman, 9.4; 4. Riley Duvall, 9.7; 4. Shayde Etherton, 10.0; 5. Ben Shofner, 10.1; 6. Cody Pratt, 11.1; 7. Jule Hazen, 11.5; 8. Cody Kroul, 11.7.

Team roping: First round leaders: 1. Turtle Powell/Dugan Kelly, 4.3 seconds; 2. Coleman Proctor/Matt Kasner, 4.9; 3. (tie) Spencer Mitchell/Dakota Kirchenschlager and Erich Rogers/Cory Petska, 5.0; 5. (tie) Kaleb Driggers/Travis Graves, and Derrick Begay/Cesar de la Cruz, 5.1; 7. (tie) Bubba Buckaloo/Cole Davison and Clay Tryan/Jade Corkill, 5.2. Second round leaders: 1. Justin Davis/Clay O’Brien Cooper, 4.5 seconds; 2. Matt Sherwood/Tommy Zuniga, 4.6; 3. Kaleb Driggers/Travis Graves, 4.8; 4. Paul David Tierney/Jared Bilby, 4.9; 5. Erich Rogers/Cory Petska, 5.1; 6. Colby Lovell/Martin Lucero, 5.2; 7. Coleman Proctor/ Matt Kasner, 5.5; 8. (tie) Caleb Smidt/B.J. Dugger and Jake Orman/Corey Hendrick, 5.8. Average: 1. Kaleb Driggers/Travis Graves, 9.9 seconds on two runs; 2. Erich Rogers/Cory Petska, 10.1; 3. Coleman Proctor/Matt Kasner, 10.4; 4. Colby Lovell/Martin Lucero, 10.7; 4. Turtle Powell/Dugan Kelly, 11.0; 6. Caleb Smidt, 12.0; 7. Clay Tryan/Jade Corkill, 12.1; 8. Jake Orman/Corey Hendrick, 12.1.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Cody Wright, 84 points on Harry Vold Rodeo’s Chloe; 2. (tie) Tyler Corrington and Bradley Harter, 83; 4. Jacobs Crawley, 81; 5. Jesse Bail, 80; 6. (tie) Cort Scheer, Ty Atchison and Jesse Wright, 79.

Tie-down roping: First round leaders: 1. Jerome Schneeberger, 8.5 seconds; 2. E.J. Roberts, 9.0; 3. Cody Ohl, 9.1; 4. Bryson Sechrist, 9.3; 5. Ben Madsen, 9.4; 6. Tyler Garten, 10.0; 7. Justin Maass, 10.1; Tuf Cooper, 10.2. Second round leaders: 1. (tie) Caleb Smidt and Hunter Herrin, 7.8 seconds; 3. (tie) Fred Whitfield and Ryan Watkins, 8.1; 5. (tie) Paul David Tierney and Clint Carpenter, 8.4; 7. (tie) Clint Cooper/Jimmy Jumper, 8.5. Average leaders: 1. Jerome Schneeberger, 17.7 seconds on two runs; 2. Caleb Smidt, 19.1; 3. Cody Ohl, 19.4; 4. Clint Carpenter, 19.9; 5. (tie) Blake Deckard and Tuf Cooper, 20.6; 7. Ben Madsen, 21.1; 8. Don Coffell.

Barrel racing: First round leaders: 1. Taylor Jacob, 17.10 seconds; 2. Christine Laughlin, 17.12; 3. Laura Lambert, 17.22; 4. Shali Lord, 17.23; 5. Carley Richaradson, 17.,26; 6. June Holeman, 17.30; 7. Layna Kight, 17.32; 8. Jessica Frost, 17.33; 9. Kelly Waide, 17.34; 10. (tie) Morgan Figueroa and Carol Chesher, 17.35. Second round leaders: 1. Lizzy Ehr, 17.06 seconds; 2. Kendra Dickson, 17.08; 3. Carley Richardson, 17.10; 4. Laura Lambert, 17.13; 5. (tie) Kaley Bass and Whitney Baker, 17.14; 7. Christine Laughlin, 17.15; 8. (tie) Jessica Frost and Shali Lord, 17.18; 10. Natalie Bland, 17.21. Average leaders: 1. Christine Laughlin, 34.27 on two runs; 2. Taylor Jacob, 3432; 3. Laura Lambert, 34.35; 4. Carley Richardson, 34.36; 5. Shali Lord, 34.41; 6. Jessica Frost, 34.51; 7. Lizzy Ehr, 34.54; 8. Carol Chesher, 34.59; 9. Jean Winters, 34.60; 10. Kelly Waide, 34.69.

Bull riding: 1. Trevor Kastner, 91 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Hide Out; 2. Nate Perry, 89; 3. Sage Kimzey, 87; 4. Clayton Foltyn, 86; 5. Bart Miller, 85; 6. Brad Harris, 84; 7. Joe Frost, 82; 8. Shane Proctor, 78.


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