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ALVA, Okla. â€“ For a few members of the Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo team, qualifications to the College National Finals Rodeo are set.
For others, there is some work to be done this coming weekend at the final event of the 2013-14 Central Plains Region season in Guymon, Okla. Take junior Ryan Domer of Topeka, Kan., who sits third in the all-around standings, 285 points behind the No. 2 spot and a secured trip to Casper, Wyo., in June.
â€śIâ€™m going to really have to crack down and come out all guns blazing to have a good weekend to get the points to make it to the college finals in the all-around,â€ť said Domer, who competes in tie-down roping, team roping and steer wrestling. â€śI have three chances to get the points I need. I just need to draw the right steers and get my mind right.â€ť
Domer sits seventh in steer wrestling and eighth in tie-down roping. He needs to have his best finish to date at Oklahoma Panhandle State Universityâ€™s Doc Gardner Memorial Rodeo in order to return to the college finals.
The Northwestern men have two cowboys â€“ tie-down roper Trey Young of Dupree, S.D., and heeler Chase Boekhaus of Rolla, Kan. â€“ who lead their respective events and are locks to compete in Casper during the week-long championship that begins June 15. Steer wrestler Stephen Culling of Fort St. John, British Columbia, sits third with a 90-point lead over the fourth-place bulldogger. Header Dalton Richards of Hawkinsville, Ga., is fourth, just 40 points shy of the qualifying mark.
The team of header Parker Warner (Jay, Okla.) and heeler Dustin Searcy (Mooreland, Okla.) sit eighth with 240 apiece but still stand an outside chance to qualify.
In college rodeo, only the top two teams in each region can qualify all six men; there are four who represent the womenâ€™s teams. Only the regional all-around champion and runner-up advance in both menâ€™s and womenâ€™s races, then only the top three in each event earn the right to compete for the coveted National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association titles.
For the Rangers women, breakaway roper Micah Samples of Abilene, Kan., and goat-tier Karley Kile of Topeka, are in place to advance. Both are in second place in their respective events; Kile is locked in to the college finals, while Samples has a few cowgirls on her tail for a top-three finish, including teammate Kelsey Pontius of Watsontown, Pa. Pontius sits fourth with 278.3 points, fewer than 13 points behind the No. 3 roper.
The Northwestern men are coming off a second-place finish this past weekend at the Fort Hays (Kan.) State University Rodeo, posting 390 points. They were paced with nine cowboys qualifying for the championship round, with four of the top five bulldoggers in the mix: Jess Woodward of Dupree, S.D., finished second, followed by Tee Hale (third) of White Owl, S.D.; Chase Lako (fourth) of Hunter, N.D.; and Domer (fifth).
â€śSteer wrestling is the only thing thatâ€™s been going right for me,â€ť Domer said. â€śSteer wrestling has kept me where I need to be regarding the all-around.â€ť
Young continued his strong season with a second-place finish in Hays, roping and tying two calves in a cumulative time of 24.0 seconds, just two-tenths of a second behind the winner. Boekhaus, roping with Ethan Fox of Southeastern Oklahoma State University, placed second in team roping, while Richards and Tad Sheets of Brewster, Kan., finished among the leaders. Lauren Barnes of Buckeye, Ariz., was the lone member of the womenâ€™s team in the short round, finishing sixth in goat tying.
â€śOur girls team has been right there where they need to be all year,â€ť Domer said. â€śTheyâ€™ve been getting their side done. The guysâ€™ team has been a little off. Weâ€™ve been hit and miss at every rodeo.â€ť
Of course, the Rangers men hit pretty well in western Kansas last weekend.
â€śWe needed a little more of that this year, and we wouldâ€™ve been just right,â€ť Domer said.