By Chaney Latham
Oklahoma Panhandle State University
GUYMON, Okla. – The 2011-2012 collegiate rodeo season has come to an end with a spectacular finish for the Oklahoma Panhandle State University rodeo team.
It has been a hard fought battle all year long for the men’s team to secure one of the top two positions in the region in order to compete at the College National Finals Rodeo this June. Requiring a show down at the hometown Doc Gardner Memorial Rodeo on Saturday afternoon, the Panhandle State posse was able pull it off by capturing the men’s team title, beating the nearest competition for runner-up by more than 400 points.
Five of the 10 saddle bronc riders to qualify the short go-round were from Panhandle State. Junior Allen Boore got on McCloy Rodeo’s Air Pockets, earning an 83 the highest marked ride of the rodeo. Combined with his first-place 77 in the first round, which he split with teammate Whit Peterson, Boore claimed the title. Teammates Joe Harper, Peterson, Josh Griggs and Jake Watson took second, third, fourth, and sixth places, respectively.
Freshman Joe Frost was the lone Aggies bull rider to compete in the final round and was one of just three cowboys who secured a qualifying eight-second ride. In addition, he posted an 87 in the opening round, the highest marked ride. Even though he failed to score on his second bull, Frost finished second overall. More importantly, he won the year-end all-around and bull riding championships in the Central Plains Region, bettering his bull riding competition by nearly 100 points.
“I decided I was going to do whatever it would take to win every time,” Frost said. “Whether I did or not, I would expect nothing but first every time I nod my head.”
The winning attitude combined with a strong work ethic has been a key to his success, but Frost has found plenty of other assistance along the way.
“I am very lucky to have both of my coaches be such great role models,” he said. “They have become two of my heroes in life and in rodeo, and as far as the team goes, I am extremely excited about the future.”
Steer wrestlers Weston Taylor and Dusty Moore earned a trip to the short round; Moore was solid with a 6.0-second run in the first round and a 6.2 in the second, good enough for second place overall. Taylor also earned some points by getting both of his steers thrown as well.
Senior all-around cowgirl Kaylee Moyer won title in goat tying, posting an 8.8-second run to finish second in the long round and an 8.9 in the final round to win the two-run aggregate. Moyer also qualified for the finals in breakaway roping, earning a trip with teammate Kashley Schweer. Both ladies suffered some tough luck in the final performance, but Moyer gathered a few points even with a broken barrier.
Another all-around cowgirl, Chaney Latham, qualified for the short round in both goat tying and barrel racing. She made solid runs in both events but placed fifth in barrel racing.
With the Doc Gardner Memorial Rodeo championship, the Panhandle State men moved into second place in the region behind Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College and earned a trip to the college finals. In addition to Frost’s championship, Moyer finished the region second in goat tying and third in breakaway roping. Saddle bronc rider Justin Hegwer finished third in the region, two spots behind graduate assistant coach Tyrel Larsen, who won the region competing for rival Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
“I’m just proud of the kids,” assistant coach Robert Etbauer said. “I think we have a good crew, and a good bunch of kids.”
Etbauer’s all-around horse, Rambo, was named regional horse of the year.
Coach Craig Latham was named regional coach of the year and accepted the award with tears in his eyes before a standing ovation from the crowd at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena. Latham, who has been battling cancer much of this season, was honored for his high spirits during his fight against the disease.