ALVA, Okla. – Rodeo is known as an individualized sport, whereby contestants battle one another for the fastest times or the best scores.
But there is a strong team presence, especially in college rodeo. Not only do cowboys and cowgirls battle for individual glory, they use it in a team race that helps decide which program is best, from one rodeo to another to the final season standings.
“If I go do my part, it helps the team out,” said Dalton Richards, a senior header at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. “We are still a team, but individually you still have to go do your own job.”
Richards did, winning the team roping title at the Oklahoma State University rodeo while competing with a longtime friend, Ben Whitton, who competes for Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Richards’ win was one of the key ingredients for the Northwestern men’s second-place finish this past weekend in Stillwater.
“We didn’t have the best of luck in the long round, but we got by that steer,” Richards said, who pointed to a 7.2-second run, which earned them a ninth-place finish in the first round. “We came back to the short round and drew a little better; we ended up fortunate enough to win the short round and the average, which you don’t hear about very often.”
Richards and Whitton were considerably faster in the championship round, posting a 5.3-second run. They finished the two-run rodeo 1.6 seconds quicker than the second-place team. Richards got help from Turbo, an 8-year-old blue roan gelding he borrowed from teammate Trisha Price of Faith, S.D.
“I don’t have a head horse here, but I’m fortunate enough that Trisha lets me borrow him,” Richards said. “I’ve rode many good horses, but I’ve never rode a horse that’s so easy to get along with. Any set up I’ve given him, he’s adapted real well and always gives me a chance to win.”
Turbo was the 2013-14 women’s horse of the year in the Central Plains Region. He’s just another fine example of the type of teamwork that comes in rodeo.
“Turbo and Dalton get along so good,” Price said. “I have four or five guys ride him every weekend. Everybody can get on him and rope. He’s easy to ride.”
Richards, meanwhile, was one of four Rangers in the final round, joining a trio of steer wrestlers who all finished quite strong in Stillwater. Michael McGinn, a junior from Haines, Ore., led the way by winning the event, downing two steers in 9.0 seconds. He was joined by Grayson Allred, who posted a 9.3-second run for second place, and Brock White, who finished fourth in 10.0 seconds.
While the men finished second in the team standings, the Northwestern women’s team has won all three rodeos that have taken place so far this season, including a dominating performance at Oklahoma State. Six Rangers were part of the short go-round, with goat-tier Shayna Miller of Faith, S.D., winning the title. Fellow goat-tier Lauren Barnes, a senior from Buckeye, Ariz., finished third.
Barrel racer Sara Bynum placed third in Stillwater, while a trio of breakaway ropers – Sage Allen, Taige Trent and Samantha Corzine – earned vital points to secure Northwestern’s perfect season so far.
Can they maintain that streak? They will find out quickly enough when the Rangers host the rest of the teams from the Central Plains Region next week for the Northwestern rodeo.