Bios, 2014 champions, Elk City


Will Lowe, bareback riding champion

Three-time world champion Will Lowe came out of Elk City in 2014 with a win.

He rode the Beutler and Son Rodeo Co. horse Black Kat for 86 points to win the ’14 title.

He loves that horse, and for good reason. It’s carried him to the pay window at two previous rodeos. “I really like that horse of Bennie’s,” he said. “I was 90 (points) on that horse in Burwell (Neb.) and 86 in Lawton a few years ago.”

He also likes riding at Beutler and Son Rodeos, and especially in Elk City. “When you’re at Bennie’s hometown deal, you know it’s going to be awesome. Bennie is as deep (in livestock) as anybody, and drawing Black Kat is always a plus. And that’s not the only one you can win his rodeos on, that’s for sure.”

Lowe likes to stay busy, whether it’s rodeoing, building fence or taking care of his herd of cattle. “I’m up for whatever,” he said. “I try to stay busy. I’m not one to sit on the couch and watch TV.” His cow herd is pretty tame, too. “They’re easy. Honk the horn and they come running.”

When he’s on the rodeo road, he and his wife Tiffani’s sons, ages five and three, often come along.

Brandon Volker, steer wrestling champion

Alva, Oklahoma cowboy Brandon Volker turfed his steer in 3.6 seconds to become the 2014 Elk City Rodeo of Champions champion.

The cowboy knew he had a good steer. “I’d seen him go quite a bit last summer,” he said. “I took the start I needed to take, everything seemed to happen pretty quick, and everything went good. ‘

He and his wife Lacey welcomed their first child, a daughter, into the world last fall, and she’s changed their life. “It’s been great,” he said. “She’s always making us laugh.” And the little girl has already been to a few rodeos, attending her first one two weeks after she was born. Brandon is already planning for her rodeo future. He has two or three barrel and breakaway horses around, and “I may lose my bulldogging horse someday (to her), but it’ll all be worth it.”

When he’s not on the rodeo trail, Brandon works for an oil and fuel distributor. His boss is also a rodeo contestant, so he understands when Brandon needs to leave to rodeo. “As long as I get my stuff done,” he can leave.

Lacey, his wife of three years, also competes as a barrel racer and is doing more breakaway roping. “I’ve gotten converted to chute help,” he joked. “But it’s been good.”

Mike Bacon, team roping heading champion

Mike Bacon was the front half of the 2014 Elk City Team Roping champions.

The Boswell, Okla. cowboy partnered with heeler Joseph Harrison to rope his steer in 5.6 seconds.

He remembers his run well. “I had a plan for how to make my run, and when I nodded my head, it worked. That steer was really good.”

When he’s not on the rodeo trail, Mike rides and trains roping horses. He is the sixth of seven boys, with a younger sister, and he and his older brothers all rodeoed as youngsters. Everyone else has mostly quit rodeoing except for a brother who team ropes at jackpots.

In his spare time, he loves taking his six year old daughter horseback riding. She loves to ride with her dad. “Our fun time is to just ride.”

Joseph Harrison, team roping heeling champion

Joseph Harrison was at the heel end for the 2014 Elk City Rodeo team roping champions.

The Overbrook, Okla. cowboy has roped with header Mike Bacon for three years, and Joseph appreciates his header. “He’s been in just about every rodeo setup there is and has been to all the arenas, so he has a pretty good idea of where we’re going, what the setup is like and what horse he needs to take.” Mike is a former heeler, so that helps, too. “He heels really good, so he understands what I need. He’s just good to travel with and he gets along well with everybody.”

Joseph shows team roping horses at American Quarter Horse Association shows, and works for Bobby Lewis Quarter Horses.

In his spare time, he likes to hang out with friends and fish. “I’m not really a lake fisherman,” he said. Farm ponds are his preference, and he usually fishes for largemouth bass and crappie. When his wife, Jodi, is in the mood for a fish fry, he’ll keep what he catches.

Joseph has been a PRCA member since 2007 and has competed at the Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo three years.

Steven Dent, saddle bronc riding champion

Steven Dent rodeo the Beutler horse Wound Up for 87 points and the 2014 Elk City title.

The Mullen, Neb. cowboy was also entered in the bareback riding, where he tied for fourth place.

He’s an all-around athlete, excelling in football, wresting, track and field and rodeo in high school. Mullen High School (the town has a population of 509) plays eight-man football, and in Dent’s junior year, was the state champion, where he led the state with 2,488 rushing yards. His competitive streak runs deep: he was also a state wrestling champion his senior year.

He and his wife Kay and their two young sons ranch in the Sandhills of Nebraska.

He has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo seven times.

Tana Poppino, barrel racing champion

Tana Poppino rounded the barrels in 15.90 seconds to win the barrel racing title at the 2014 Rodeo of Champions.

Her mount in Elk City was Goose, a thirteen year old gelding out of Doc’s Hickory, who she has owned since he was five. Goose was plagued by physical problems last year, but Tana thinks most of them have been worked out.  “We are hoping things have smoothed out,” she said. His problems “have caused a lot of really bad habits in the runs, and we’re working out those challenges.”

As a seasoned barrel racer, the three-time Wrangler NFR qualifier knows there are so many variables that affect a contestants’ run or ride. “That’s one thing about rodeo,” she said. “You can’t control the ground and the stock and the weather. You have to do your best every time, and know it’s going to work out.” 

When she’s not barrel racing, she enjoys riding horses and helping people find horses that are a good fit. “If I find a nice horse, then I find a rider that fits that horse. If I can match a kid up with a horse that’s going to help them learn how to win and enjoy our sport, that’s almost better than a (barrel racing) win.”

Tana’s husband and son are also rodeo contestants. Marty and their son Brodie are both steer ropers; Brodie is the 2014 Prairie Circuit Steer Roping Champion and competed at his first Ram National Circuit Finals Steer Roping this past June.

 

Corey Navarre, bull riding champion

Corey Navarre went out with a bang.

The Weatherford, Texas cowboy retired from bull riding last year, and in his second to last bull, in Elk City, he won the title with a score of 84 points on a Beutler and Son Rodeo bull.

It was a good ride, on a bull “that did exactly what I needed him to do,” Corey remembered, “which was to win first.”

Corey’s rodeo resume is storied: he’s the only cowboy to ever qualify for the Wrangler NFR, the PBR World Finals and the College National Finals Rodeo all in the same years (1998 and 1999), and has qualified for four Wrangler NFRs and eight PBR World Finals.

Retirement from rodeo is good, Corey said. “It’s nice to be at home, sleeping in my own bed every night, not rushing to load up and head somewhere. I’m really enjoying it.” His daughters, ages eight and four, however, miss rodeo. “They’re a little disappointed now and then when we don’t load up in the motor home and go somewhere, but they don’t miss saying goodbye,” Corey said.

In retirement, he is raising and selling bucking bulls, and being a former rider is an advantage. “It’s nice to have the upper hand, because I have an idea of where the bulls would work best and I know a lot of people out there who might buy them.”

A native of Louisiana, he came to Oklahoma on a rodeo scholarship to Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford. There, he met his wife, Melissa Riddle Navarre, who was in college on a basketball scholarship. They married fourteen years ago.