HEMPSTEAD, Texas – Tyler Ravenscroft had one goal in mind when he made the 300-mile drive from Durant, Oklahoma, to the Waller County Fair and Rodeo.
He wanted to qualify to return to this part of the country next spring to compete at RodeoHouston, one of the biggest regular-season events in professional rodeo. He gave himself a great chance during the first performance of Hempstead’s rodeo Thursday night, wrestling his steer to the ground in 3.2 seconds.
“I just wanted to be patient and use the cow that I was drawn,” said Ravenscroft, a senior at Southeastern Oklahoma State University from Nenzel, a hamlet of less than 20 people in north-central Nebraska. “I knew he was a really good steer. He went off in Stephenville (Texas) last week. I knew it was a good chance to get something done here.”
All he did was set a new arena record, the first time the since the rodeo became associated with the PRCA more than a decade ago. He had a bit of help, though. His hazer was Sean Mulligan, his uncle and a four-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier who has also hazed at the NFR many other times throughout his established career.
“That’s the fastest run I’ve ever had,” said Ravenscroft, 22, who is planning to make a run at his own NFR qualification in 2023; because this rodeo ends Oct. 1, the money earned in Hempstead counts toward next season’s standings. “I’m glad I got Sean to come down here for me.
“I needed the best in the business.”
Ravenscroft got that in more ways than one. Everything must go perfectly to post a run that fast, from Mulligan’s haze to getting a good start to riding the right horse. His is an 8-year-old sorrel mare named Cherry Bomb.
“She’s one Sean and I started when I was a freshman in college,” he said. “She’s my pride and joy. She did so much, from getting the start to giving me confidence all through the run. I know she’s going to stand there (in the timed-event box), and she’s going to give me the best go she can.”
That means running straight toward the steer so the bulldogger can jump from her back and onto the steer. Once there, Ravenscroft still had some work to do, and much of that was doing everything technically well.
“I’ve been practicing the last couple of weeks of hustling to the (steer’s) nose, because I’ve been behind all the time,” he said. “As soon as I got my feet on the ground, I knew I wanted to go to the nose.”
By doing so, he was able to utilize his momentum and that of the steer to turn the animal over on its side and stop the clock. The caveat is that the winner from the Waller County Fair and Rodeo will earn a spot in the RodeoHouston lineup next March.
He had no time to celebrate, though. He and Mulligan quickly loaded their horses back in the trailer and headed north. They had nearly five hours to drive, and Ravenscroft is scheduled to compete at his hometown college rodeo Friday morning in Durant.
He’ll need to pay close attention to the route, though, because he stands a great chance to return to the Houston area in five months.
Waller County Fair and Rodeo
Sept. 29-Oct. 1
Bareback riding: 1. Bradlee Miller, 85 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Cool Change; no other qualified rides.
Steer wrestling: 1. Tyler Ravenscroft, 3.2 seconds; 2. Cody Harmon, 4.3; 3. Justin Shaffer, 4.5; 4. Jeffrey Boriski, 5.1; no other qualified runs.
Team roping: 1. Wyatt Imus/Caleb Anderson, 11.3 seconds; Rusty Barnett/Michael Fortenberry, 14.2; no other qualified runs.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Zac Dallas, 86 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Pretty Woman; 2. Reginald Lecourt, 78; 3. (tie) Isaac Diaz and Clint Franks, 72 points; no other qualified runs.
Tie-down roping: 1. James Berry, 9.8 seconds; 2. Benny Mosley, 14.4; 3. Jim Mike Hutto, 18,7; 4. Michael Otero, 20.7; no other qualified runs.
Breakaway roping: 1. Taylor Hanchey, 2.2 seconds; 2. Jordan Jo Hollabaugh, 2.6; 3. Cheyenne Britain, 2.8; 4. Lari Dee Guy, 3.7; 5. Beau Peterson, 5.3; 6. Jackie Crawford, 16.3.
Barrel racing: 1. Ilyssa Riley, 15.51 seconds; 2. Kelly Allen, 15.58; 3. Sissy Winn, 15.68; 4. Molly Pritchard, 16.25; 5. J.J. Baldwin, 16.27; 6. Lauren Davang, 16.42.
Bull riding: 1. T. Parker, 86.5 points on Lancaster & Jones Pro Rodeo’s Mr. Quick; no other qualified rides.