ALVA, Okla. – Stockton Graves likes what he sees in the Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo team.
“Both the men and the women are doing outstanding,” said Graves, who witnessed the Rangers men dominate their hometown rodeo this past weekend to win the championship and move into first place in the Central Plains Region. “We consistently have had quite a few kids make the short round all season long and have done well across the board.”
The men’s team score 805 points, the most it’s earned through four rodeos this season. They were led by Riley Wakefield of O’Neill, Neb., who earned points in all three of his events: team roping heeling, steer wrestling and tie-down roping. He won the all-around title, as did women’s team member Jenny Massing of Ponoka, Alberta, who earned points in goat-tying and breakaway roping.
Of the men’s points, the lion’s share came in steer wrestling – Alva is already being likened to Checotah, Okla., which is the Steer Wrestling Capital of the World. Cody Devers of Perryton, Texas won both rounds and the average to lead the bulldoggers; Maverick Harper of Stephenville, Texas, placed second and Wakefield third.
“Cody has been a big benefit to the team,” Graves said. “His goal is to win the region, and that’s what he’s doing. Everybody else is just following suit.”
Also in the mix were Talon Roseland of Marshalltown, Iowa, who finished fifth, and Bridger Anderson of Carrington, N.D., placed sixth.
“I didn’t realize we were doing so good until I saw that we had seven out of 10 bulldoggers in the short round,” Graves said. “I’m really proud of them, because they put it all together.”
That seemed to be the theme, but it was vital for both the men and women in their races toward the regional title. The men now own a 113.33-point lead over the second-place team and will have a four-month break before returning to competition in late February.
Wakefield and his header, Jayden Johnson of Casper, Wyo., finished second in team roping, and Wakefield also captured points for finishing in a three-way tie for fifth place in tie-down roping. He was joined in the short round by fellow tie-down ropers Ethan Price of Leedey, Okla., who finished third in the opening round, and Harper, who placed third in the opener and sixth overall.
“I think the main difference in this year’s team are the multi-event cowboys – Riley, Maverick, Bubba (Allred of Kanarraville, Utah) and Ethan – have done a great job of getting points in multiple events,” Graves said. “That helps so much.”
For the women, Massing earned the bulk of her points in breakaway roping. She placed in both rounds and finished tied for fourth in the average. She also finished in a tie for fifth in the first round of goat-tying.
Cassy Woodward of DuPree, S.D., led the barrel-racing contingent by finishing third in both rounds and the average. Ashlyn Moeder of Oakley, Kan., placed twice and finished fourth, while Sara Bynum of Beggs, Okla., placed second in the opening round.
“Jenny has really come around this year,” Graves said. “I think she’s improved most in barrel racing, because she’s got a new horse. Goat-tying has been her main event, but she’s roping really well, too. It’s all coming together for her.”
It seems to be coming around for all the Rangers, and they hope to keep the momentum going their way when the spring portion of the season begins in February.