Northwestern rodeo team playing host to two rodeos this fall

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Northwestern rodeo team playing host to two rodeos this fall

 Micah Samples at College National Finals Rodeo
Northwestern Oklahoma State University senior Micah Samples from Abilene, Kan., competes in the breakaway roping event during the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo. Northwestern’s rodeo team will play host to its first of two college rodeos in this area when more than 500 contestants converge in Cherokee at the Alfalfa County Fairgrounds Sept. 19-21. Northwestern’s Ranger Rodeo in Alva will be Oct. 30-Nov. 1.
 Northwestern Rodeo team members who qualified for 2014 College National Finals Rodeo
Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo team representatives at the College National Finals Rodeo the first week of June in Casper, Wyo., included (front row, left to right) Karley Kile, Kesley Pontius, Micah Samples, Lauren Barnes, (back row) Stephen Culling, Parker Warner, Chase Boekhaus, Trey Young, and Coach Stockton Graves.
The successes of the Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo team continue to grow as its members have been tapped by the Central Plains Region to organize and produce two of the 10 collegiate rodeos typically held during a rodeo season.

Colby (Kan.) Community College opted out of its annual rodeo leaving only nine events for the student-athletes to attend. Stockton Graves, Northwestern rodeo coach, offered to pick up that rodeo, giving Northwestern two home rodeos this fall. The first rodeo will take place in Cherokee Sept. 19-21 at the Alfalfa County Fairgrounds, with the annual Ranger Rodeo at the Woods County Fairgrounds Arena on Oct. 30-Nov. 1.

“I initially offered to host a second rodeo to benefit the students,” Graves said. “I didn’t like the thought of them only getting the chance to go to nine rodeos instead of 10.”

Events in Cherokee will take place Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., with the short round starting at 11 a.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for children. Some slack events will take place Friday night after the evening performance, as well as at 9 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Slack is free and open to the public.

Although Northwestern’s first rodeo will take place in Cherokee, Graves said about 500 contestants and their families will be in the area, meaning the economic impact of the event will benefit both communities.

“We appreciate our students working hard to make two rodeos possible,” Graves said. “We’ve received tons of support from the University, the community and the businesses of both Woods and Alfalfa counties. No Alva tourism money we receive for our Ranger Rodeo will be used for the additional rodeo in Cherokee, but many of our largest sponsors were more than willing to help out for both rodeos. They recognize it’s a win-win situation.”

Northwestern’s rodeo team, which has had a number of its members qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo in past years, is the second largest in the nation with 114 members this year.

For its efforts last year, eight members qualified for the CNFR in June in Casper, Wyo., where more than 400 contestants competed from 11 different regions, comprising more than 100 universities and colleges.

The women’s team won the reserve champion title in the Central Plains Region, qualifying four to represent Northwestern as a team at the CNFR where it posted an eighth-place finish in team standings among a field of 31. Four men competed in individual events, finishing 22nd out of 56 teams.

For the women at the CNFR, Lauren Barnes, Buckeye, Ariz., alumna, placed fourth in the nation in goat tying, while Micah Samples, Abilene, Kan., senior, who also represented Northwestern at the 2013 CNFR, earned fifth in breakaway roping. Goat-tier Karley Kile, Topeka, Kan., senior, who placed fifth in goat tying at the 2013 CNFR, and breakaway roper Kesley Pontius, Watsontown, Pa., alumna, also competed.

For the men, senior Stephen Culling, last year’s regional runner-up from Fort St. John, British Columbia, Canada, claimed third in the steer wrestling at the CNFR. Trey Young, Dupree, S.D. alumnus, also reached the finals for the men in tie down roping. He ranked third through the first three rounds but failed to land a qualifying mark during finals, sinking him to 11th overall. Heeler Chase Boekhaus, Rolla, Kan., senior, and header Parker Warner, Jay alumnus, also competed.

For more information about Northwestern’s rodeo team, contact Graves at (580) 327-8688 or