DUNCAN, Okla. – With less than a month remaining in the Prairie Circuit season, the races for the 2017 regional championships are coming down to the wire.
The most heated contests may be for those cowboys and cowgirls on the bubble to qualify for the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19-Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Stephens County Arena in Duncan.
You see, it’s an honor for the best regional contestants to make their way to Duncan every fall. It offers a chance at big bucks and the biggest prizes of all – the year-end title in each discipline or the average championship at the regional finale, which is awarded to the contestants who have the best three-round cumulative score or cumulative time.
Those two individuals not only claim coveted championships, but they then advance on to the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo, which takes place next spring in Kissimmee, Fla. That’s important in that any contestant in the Prairie Circuit field has a chance to win the average title.
One of the toughest events in the race to Duncan is tie-down roping, where Comanche, Okla., cowboy Ryan Jarrett has a solid lead for the championship. Still, there are six cowboys who are battling for that 12th position in the championship, all separated by less than $1,700.
As of this week, Lane Jeffrey of Wilburton, Okla., is 11th with $4,349. He is followed by Billy Hamilton, Perry Dietz, Blake Eliason, Cody Shelley and Shade Etbauer – all are within range of claiming those bottom two spots for the circuit finale.
The chase for the steer wrestling year-end title will come down to how well the top performers do during the regional finals. J.D. Struxness leads the standings with just shy of $14,000, but the No. 5 man, Cole Edge, is just $3,000 behind. In essence, a cowboy on a roll could make up about $8,000 in just three days in Duncan.
But there are more than nine cowboys just trying to squeeze their way into qualifying for the circuit finals. Richard Coats sits 10th in the bulldogging standings with $7,781, while Jeff Miller is 19th and less than $3,000 behind.
Other leaders heading into the final few weeks of the 2017 campaign are bareback rider Steven Dent of Mullen, Neb.; header Coleman Proctor of Pryor, Okla; heeler Reagan Ward of Edmond, Okla.; saddle bronc rider Hardy Braden of Welch, Okla.; bull rider Kyle Ziegler of Atwood, Kan.; steer roper Chet Herren of Pawhuska, Okla.; and barrel racer Tracy Nowlin of Nowata, Okla.