ALVA, Okla. – The surname Munsell is almost as popular in Alva as it is in Arnett, Oklahoma.
Over the years, the same Munsell clan has made a second home in this town of 5,100 while attending Northwestern Oklahoma State University and competing on its rodeo team. First there was Hunter, followed by younger sister Taylor. They now have a third member of the family enrolled and succeeding in the rodeo arena.
Sophomore Lindy Munsell earned her first college title this past weekend by winning the breakaway roping championship at the Garden City (Kansas) Community College Rodeo. She sealed her fate with a blazing 2.7-second run in Sunday’s championship round to win round and the aggregate title in a two-run cumulative time of 5.7 seconds, just one-tenth ahead of the field.
“It was definitely exciting, making my first short round and being able to capitalize on a good calf in the short round,” said Munsell, who watched Taylor win the 2019 national championship in breakaway roping. “I’ve been riding all of Taylor’s horses, and I’ve ridden a different horse of hers at every rodeo.
“It was good to finally clock with one of them and do some good.”
The horse is Ray, a palomino gelding raised on the family place near Arnett, a tiny community 100 miles southwest of Alva near the Texas Panhandle border. The key to Lindy Munsell’s success in Garden City, she said, was about maintaining focus and trusting her mount.
“Ray is Taylor’s good all-around horse,” Lindy Munsell said. “He’s done it all. A lot of other girls have ridden him and made the short go in a lot of events. He’s just a good horse and solid in just about every event you put him in.”
Munsell led the way for the Rangers women over the weekend, but she wasn’t the only Northwestern cowgirl to collect points. Fellow breakaway roper Jaylinn Fausnaugh of Stoutsville, Ohio, placed in both rounds and finished in a tie for third place overall.
The Rangers men were guided for the second straight week by steer wrestler Riley Westhaver of High River, Alberta. He won both rounds and the average title and overtook teammate Bridger Anderson of Carrington, North Dakota, for the lead in the Central Plains Region’s bulldogging standings.
Two other bulldoggers – Zane Thompson of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Jeremy Plourde of Carlton, Michigan – collected points in western Kansas. Thompson placed third in the opening round with a 6.3-second run and placed fourth overall. Plourde finished sixth in the long round.
Heeler Jayden Laubhan of Follett, Texas, finished among the leaders in both rounds and finished third overall, roping with Taylor Lagasse of Southwestern Oklahoma State University. Tie-down roper Bo Yaussi of Udall, Kansas, finished second in the long round, placed fifth in the short round and was fourth in the aggregate race.
For Munsell, making Northwestern her college choice was more than a family tradition. Yes, family had a great deal to do with it, but she had much more on her mind when she made the commitment to move to Alva.
“Hunter and Taylor – especially Taylor – had a lot of success rodeoing for (coach) Stockton Graves,” she said. “Taylor stayed here in Alva, so I knew it would be a good opportunity for me to be here with her and have her help me with my roping. I thought it would be the best place for me to step up my game and succeed.
“I know Taylor’s going to have me mounted really well, and the skill level I get from her is only going to get better. I’m trying to get better with my mental game, and Stockton’s helped me with that. He really knows how important it is to have a strong mental approach, and he pushes that on all of us. I need to keep improving on that.”
The weekend wasn’t all grand, though. A pall fell over the rodeo arena when news came Friday that two Central Plains Region competitors – Cinch Bullock and Hadly McCormack of Oklahoma Panhandle State University – were killed in a two-vehicle wreck while en route to Garden City.
“The whole region took a big hit,” Munsell said. “It took a toll on everybody, no matter what school you go to. I thought everybody came together and proved just how much of a family the Central Plains is.”
Winning and losing always takes a back seat to situations involving a young person’s death, but competitors know their hearts and the love for the game. Champions were crowned by the time the weekend came to a close, and the next rodeo is on the horizon.
“This is an amazing region,” Munsell said. “We’ve got some tough girls that rope in our region, and I just hope I can be in the mix when the season ends.”
Only the top three contestants in the final region standings in each event at the conclusion of the regular season advance to the College National Finals Rodeo. It’s the goal of every cowboy and cowgirl that wears a Northwestern black and red vest in Casper, Wyoming, each June.
“I’m just going to keep taking it one rodeo, one calf at a time and try to capitalize on the good ones I draw,” she said. “The end goal is to make the college finals.”