Ropers in a tight race for titles

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Curry Kirchner is the No. 2 header in the Prairie Circuit standings, trailing Andrew Ward by just $1.26 heading into the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo.

DUNCAN, Okla. – A year ago, header Andrew Ward of Edmond, Oklahoma, and heeler Buddy Hawkins of Columbus, Kansas, knew of the possibilities that could come their way if they were to win the Prairie Circuit’s team roping year-end championship.

They realized everything and more. After winning the heading and heeling titles, the tandem went on to compete together at the National Finals Rodeo, where they won just shy of $100,000 in 10 days. They both finished fifth in the world standings in their respective disciplines.

Then this past spring, they took their regional title to the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo, where they won again. They placed in the first two rounds and finished third in the two-run aggregate, then dominated the semifinals and finals to pocket $19,706. That financial boon has been a key reason they are in line to return to the NFR, set for December in Las Vegas.

They also lead the regional competition again heading into the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14-Saturday, Oct. 16, at the Stephens County Arena in Duncan. The race for the team roping titles will come down to the final three days of the circuit season in southern Oklahoma.

Both Ward and Hawkins own leads of just $1.26 over the No. 2 cowboys in the standings: header Curry Kirchner of Ames, Oklahoma, and Austin Rogers of Crescent, Oklahoma. But that’s just the top two in each discipline. Take this into consideration: Ward and Hawkins have each pocketed $12,723 in the region made up of rodeos and contestants primarily in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.

The top five headers includes C.J. Yeahquo ($12,279), Jake Clay ($12,140) and Coleman Proctor ($10,484); the top heelers include Jim Ross Cooper ($12,309) and L.J. Yeahquo ($12,279). All will be in the mix during the three rounds in Duncan.

Cooper and the Yeahquos all earned a good portion of their money at the largest rodeo in the circuit in Dodge City, Kansas. Ward and Hawkins, together, and Proctor also collected paychecks in western Kansas. The Yeahquos also won in Abilene, Kansas, that week, and Cooper placed there.

Just a week before that, Kirchner and Rogers finished second in Burwell, Nebraska, while Cooper, Ward and Hawkins all captured nice paydays in Lawton the second week of August.

They’ve all battled through a rugged summer run. With just a few weeks left before the circuit finale in southern Oklahoma, all know they’ll have to put on quite a show inside the building at the Stephens County Fairgrounds if they hope to walk away with the year-end title.


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