ALVA, Okla. – Joby Allen chooses to look straight ahead when it comes to competing for the steer wrestling title in the Central Plains Region.
“I don’t keep tabs on them,” he said of the standings, where he sits third with two events left on the region season. “I take every rodeo one rodeo at a time.”
It may be cliché, but that approach has allowed the Alva cowboy to focus on the tasks at hand. He has accumulated 440 points this season and is behind two Northwestern Oklahoma State University teammates: Cody Devers of Perryton, Texas, leads the race to the title with 490, while Colten Madison of Whiting, Iowa, is second, just 10 points behind.
Only the top three individuals in each discipline advance to the College National Finals Rodeo in June. Allen is right where he wants to be, but he hopes to be among those top-tier cowboys when the season concludes the end of this month.
Allen jumped into position for the season championship with a key victory this past weekend at the Southwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo in Weatherford. He won the first round with a 5.3-second run, the same time he used to finish in a tie for second place in the championship round. His 10.6-second cumulative time earned him the championship by eight-tenths of a second.
“I ended up drawing two good steers,” he said. “I’d been working on my scoring, making sure I got out. At Garden City (Kan.), I didn’t do that.”
Scoring is allowing the steer an appropriate head start while still being in good position. A barrier line crosses the timed-event chute and is released when the steer reaches the appropriate distance. The barrier, which is tied together by a thin string, will break if the animal is not provided an adequate lead. The result is a 10-second penalty, which typically takes contestants out of the running.
“I was just trying to get out of the barrier,” said Allen, who suffered the penalty the weekend before in western Kansas. “In the first round, I drew one of the better steers and made a good run.”
By winning the opening round, he was the last to go in the championship. Was there any pressure by being in that position?
“I felt a little bit,” he said. “There were a few good runs in the short go, so I knew I had to be fast. I knew I had a good steer, and I knew I had to take the barrier and go catch him.”
He had a little help from his mount, Boomer, a 12-year-old bay gelding owned by professional steer wrestler Ryan Swayze of Freedom, Okla.
“I got him the first part of June (2016), and I’ve had him since then,” Allen said. “He’s been working good.”
Devers moved into the region lead by finishing fourth in Weatherford, placing in a tie for sixth in the first round and tying Allen for second in the short round. In team roping, Tearnee and Wylee Nelson, a brother-sister tandem from Faith, S.D., finished fifth, while Maverick Harper of Stephenville, Texas, and Tanner Nall of Colcord, Okla., placed sixth.
Katy Miller of Faith placed in both rounds of goat tying and finished third overall. She sits third in the regional standings. Andrea Dufrane of Dawson, Minn., placed in the first round and held on fir sixth in the average. Barrel racer Sara Bynum of Beggs, Okla., placed second in the championship round and jumped to sixth in the average, while breakaway roper Taylor Munsell of Arnett, Okla., placed in both rounds and finished third overall.
With two rodeos remaining – Hays, Kan., April 21-23 and Guymon, Okla., April 27-29 – three other Rangers sit in position to advance to the college finals based on their regional standings: Mason Bowen of Bullard, Texas, leads tie-down roping; Dylan Schulenberg of Coal Valley, Ill., is atop the heading standings; and Ashlyn Moeder of Oakley, Kan., sits third in barrel racing.
But there are plenty of points available in the final two weekends for others to make their move.