ALVA, Okla. – The snow that fell on Hitch Arena on short-round Saturday night in Guymon, Okla., played right into Joby Allen’s hands.
“A lot of people hate that weather,” said Allen, who earned a share of the steer wrestling title at the Oklahoma Panhandle State University rodeo this past weekend and clinched the Central Plains Region title. “I just look at it that I have to deal with it. That’s my advantage. A lot of people don’t want to be there, but I’ll always remember that rodeo because it was snowing in the short go.”
Allen was one of three Northwestern Oklahoma State University cowboys who won region titles in the 2016-17 season; the Alva cowboy was joined by the team roping tandem of header Kass Bittle of Kremlin, Okla., and heeler Edgar Fierro of Hennessey, Okla.
They will advance to the College National Finals Rodeo in June, as will the women’s team, which finished second in the Central Plains this season. Other CNFR qualifiers are header Dylan Schulenberg of Coal Valley, Ill.; tie-down roper Mason Bowen of Bullard, Texas; and bulldogger Cody Devers of Perryton, Texas, who all finished second in their respective events – only the top three in each discipline advance to the finals.
For the women, only goat tier Katy Miller of Faith, S.D., earned a spot at the college finale, but she will have three teammates join her in Casper, Wyo., in June because of the team’s runner-up finish in the region: Goat tier Tearnee Nelson of Faith; Jenny Massing of Ponoka, Alberta; and Ashlyn Moeder of Oakley, Kan.
As has been the case for several years at Northwestern, the Rangers men were led in steer wrestling while competing in Guymon. Allen was one of three Northwestern bulldoggers to earn points, finishing fourth in the opening round, then dominating the championship round with a 5.6-second run in the snow and slop to share the event title with Denver Berry of Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
“I knew I was 10 points behind Cody (Devers),” said Allen, who also saw teammates Talon Roseland of Marshalltown, Iowa, and Riley Westhaver of High River, Alberta, earn points in steer wrestling. “I just wanted to make sure I got out on the barrier on my first one, score sharp and go catch him and throw him down and make the short go.
“I’d made nationals already, and the guy who owns this horse, Ryan Swayze, told me to just run one steer at a time. That’s been my game plan the last month.”
Even as cliché as it sounds, it paid off. Allen earned at least a share of the title in each of the final three rodeos of the season to claim his championship.
“We practice every day, and it takes a lot of dedication every day,” he said. “It means a lot to me. I brought back the region title to Northwestern and my hometown.”
The Rangers also secured points from header Logan Wood of Prescott, Iowa, who finished fourth in the opening round and sixth in the average while competing with Blake Toliver of Kansas State University. Tie-down roper Ethan Price of Leedey, Okla., shared the short-round victory and finished second overall.
For the women, breakaway roper Sami McGuire of Backus, Minn., held on to win the title in the Oklahoma Panhandle. She posted a 3.1-second time to finish runner-up in the first round, then was 3.4 for fourth in the championship. Here two-run cumulative time earned her the Panhandle State title by six-hundredths of a second.
“It was an all-or-nothing sort of situation,” said McGuire, who was one of four Northwestern ropers to score points. “There was no pressure. I brought my young horse, so it was, ‘Make this about him. Make the best run you can that he gives you the best shot for.’ ”
The other breakaway ropers to score points were Taylor Munsell of Arnett, Okla., who was 3.2 seconds to share the short-round victory and finish third overall; Sage Allen of Pawhuska, Okla., who was 3.6 to finish in a tie for fourth in the opening round; and Melissa Couture of Springdale, Ark., who was 3.7 to finish in a tie for sixth place in the first round. Neither Allen nor Couture had a time in the short round, but Allen still finished sixth overall.
In goat tying, Miller won the long round with an 8.2-second run, then was hampered in the wetter conditions in the finale, where she finished sixth in the short round; her two-run cumulative time of 19.7 seconds helped the South Dakotan finish in a tie for third place. Massing was 9.1 seconds in the first round to place fourth, then suffered a no-time in the second round.
The Rangers women did just enough to edge Panhandle State for the right to join regional champion Southeastern at the college finals.
“Our women’s team is really tough, so it says a lot that our team is one of the best,” McGuire said. “I think they’ve all worked really hard all year, and they definitely deserve it.”