2018 Champions, Elk City Rodeo

Bareback riding champion – Clayton Biglow

Clayton Biglow scored 87.5 points on Beutler and Son Rodeo’s Nutrena Anything Goes to win the bareback riding title at the 79th annual Rodeo of Champions in Elk City.

It was his first trip to the Elk City rodeo, and his first time on the horse, and everything went according to plan. “That’s an outstanding horse of Bennie’s,” he said. “She’s pretty bucky. She’s bucked in a lot of short rounds across the country and they’ve won a lot of money on her. I had a really good horse to win the rodeo and I’m glad it worked out.”

Biglow loves coming to the small-town rodeos. “The hospitality was great, and that rodeo has a lot of history. I enjoy those community rodeos. They’re a little more old school.”

The 24-year-old cowboy, who rodeoed for Feather River College in Quincy, Calif., competed at the College National Finals Rodeo twice and has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo three times. He grew up on a ranch near Clements.

Favorite meal while traveling:  “Italian food, especially chicken alfredo.”
Favorite beverage: Arnold Palmers and black coffee.
Favorite music while traveling:  Country and rock and roll. 
Role models: “My father (Russ Biglow). I’m pretty much doing everything he did when he was my age. He’s a great inspiration, a great guy to look up to.” Russ rode bareback horses professionally for six or seven years.

 

Steer wrestling champion – Kyle Eike

A win at the Elk City Rodeo of Champions propelled steer wrestler Kyle Eike to his first qualification for the Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo.

He turned in a time of 3.5 seconds to win first place and a check for $1,990.

Eike, who is 21 years old, rode his blue roan horse named Ice. Ice came to the Eike farm in Glenarm, Illinois, when Eike was a junior in high school. The horse, who is the same age as his master, is excellent at his job. “He loves to run,” Eike said. “He’s the kind of horse that enjoys his job. You can practice on him, then turn him out into the pasture and he’ll still run in circles. He thinks it’s a race.”

Eike is 2019 graduate of Kansas State University, graduating with a degree in ag economics and a minor in ag technology management. After graduation, he’ll head home to the family farm in central Illinois to work. Along with his dad and granddad, they raise corn and soybeans.

While at Kansas State, Eike was on the rodeo team, was one of the men’s team captains, and served on the K-State Rodeo executive board. The family farm schedule will be conducive to rodeo, he thinks. The busiest times of the year on the farm are spring and fall, when they are planting and harvesting, and he hopes to rodeo throughout the summer.

Favorite meal while traveling:  A good steak, medium rare to rare.  
Favorite music while traveling:  Red Dirt country, including Aaron Watson, Cody Johnson, and the Turnpike Troubadours. 
Favorite movie: The Fast and Furious movies. 
Role models: “There are more than a few. Chancey Larson has helped me out a lot. He’s shared his knowledge to help me bulldog, and how to enter, and where to go, and how to handle (rodeo) things.
“I take a lot of inspiration from my dad (Tim Eike) and my grandpa (Dean Dowson), who are at home and doing the farming. I don’t know how they do it, but they’ve given me every opportunity that I could ever want.”

 

Team roping co-champions – Gavin Foster and Justin Fox

Gavin Foster was the header for one of the teams that split the team roping title at the 2018 Rodeo of Champions.

Foster, Elmore City, Okla., teamed up with Justin Fox to rope their steer in 5.7 seconds.

It was a good run, Foster said, “one of those times when it feels easy, which is not always the case.”

Foster was riding an eleven-year-old mare named Faith, who was purchased from a friend last year. The mare is unusual. “She’s kind of a freak, really,” he said, “just for athleticism. She can really run, she really gets ahold of cattle fast and finishes fast.”

Last year was a return to rodeo for Foster; he had taken a six-year hiatus to concentrate on his job and his family. He had competed at jackpots and regional rodeos, but couldn’t be gone from home too much. He is struck by how the competition has improved. “I was really impressed with how tough it has gotten,” he said. “It seems like about everybody ropes really good. It’s crazy.”

His check for $1,060 helped him and Fox qualify for the Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo. For him, it was his second qualification.

Favorite beverage on the road:  “I’m a Dr. Pepper lover.”
Favorite music while traveling:  “We listen to a little bit of everything, we drive so much. Definitely country music, and Christian music, also. With satellite radio, I listen to Prime Time Country, 80s and 90s music. That’s probably my favorite.”
Role models: “I can’t go without saying that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. As for others, my parents, my dad are role models. My dad grew up poor and came from nothing. He’s worked hard his whole life to give me everything he never had. He’s taught me to do the same, and that’s what I try to carry on for my little girl.”
Gavin’s wife Jena is part of his success. “She’s definitely been my biggest supporter. None of my world would work without her.”

Justin Fox heeled for Gavin Foster, turning in a 5.7 second run to split the win at the 2018 Rodeo of Champions.

The Beggs, Okla. cowboy and his header made a good run on the steer they had. “We used our steer to the best of its ability,” he said. “We maxed our steer out. It was a textbook run.”

It was the first rodeo the two had roped together at, and they had a good weekend, winning money not only in Elk City but at Cedar Vale, Kansas as well.

Fox was on his nine-year-old bay, Ransom, a Judd Little horse that he broke and trained. “He’s amazing,” Fox said. “He always comes through. You can put him in any situation and he lets you prevail. He never takes a bad shot away from you and always puts you in the right spot at the right time. He’s been an amazing horse.”

This was the second year he competed in Elk City.

Favorite restaurant in Elk City:  “Braum’s, every time. Nothing puts a smile on your face like good old ice cream.”
Favorite music while traveling:  “My music stays on shuffle. I go from Red Dirt to rock and roll. I love all kinds of music. But if you want to get my blood pumping, it’s Nickelback and Rock Star.” 
Favorite movie: “I love to watch movies. I don’t have a favorite. There are so many – can we just say Netflix? I watch Netflix twenty-four – seven when I’m driving down the road.”  
Role models: Former steer wrestler and team roper Jody Stamper. “He’s my best friend. He’s a guy I think the world of.”

 

Team roping co-champions – Brandon Gonzales and Boogie Ray

Brandon Gonzales was on the front end, with Boogie Ray, to tie for the team roping win at the 2018 Elk City rodeo.

Gonzales, of Lipan, Texas, remembered the steer he and Ray roped in 5.7 seconds. “He ran pretty good, and when I scored him, he was dang sure running. I tried to set Boogie up as best I could. He did a great job of heeling on him.” One of the best parts of winning for Gonzales was “taking the victory lap, and them handing you $100 in those fancy little coins,” he remembered.

At his home in Lipan, Texas, he is surrounded by the best team ropers in the world, he said, “and it’s an everyday battle to try to make money roping over here, in the open (jackpots). Lipan is a good place if you want to build yourself. The only way I’ll lose is if I quit.”

He loves team roping. “We wouldn’t have this dream if it wasn’t placed in us,” he said. “I think the Lord has a reason for us to be (in rodeo), to glorify Him. If you don’t focus on Him, it’s hard to stay positive.”

He also counts his blessings. “When I pull into my place, I look around. I’ve been very blessed to have what I have. I could never have put it together myself.”

In Elk City, Gonzales rode a thirteen-year-old named Cracker Jack, a sorrel with four white socks and a bald face. “He’s a very good horse. He’s really fast,” Gonzales said. With Frenchmans Guy blood in him, “he’s what all the barrel racers want.” Gonzales rides him more at the bigger outdoor rodeos, those with longer scores.

Favorite food on the road:  “Red and green chili. New Mexico has the best red and green chili, and I’m very partial to it. It could be a green chili cheeseburger or a red chili enchilada.” (Gonzales is a native of New Mexico.)
Favorite music while traveling:  “I like to listen to podcasts like the X Factor Roping Podcasts. They interview all of the successful ropers and talk about their journeys. I really enjoy listening to that. I watch on Youtube a lot of motivational speakers, like Zig Ziglar and Jim Rohn.”
Role models: World champion team roper Chad Masters. “He’s a really good friend of mine and he’s done a lot for me. He’s really good for my family. He works very hard. When I moved here (to Lipan), he headed for me, to go to the American semi-finals. I’m telling you, he’s the ultimate very, very good guy.”

Boogie Ray was on the heel end of one of the teams that split the win in the team roping at last year’s rodeo. He and header Brandon Gonzales turned in a time of 5.7 seconds to each take home a check for $1,060.

Ray, who lives in Mabank, Texas, remembered the steer he and Gonzales had drawn; the animal had run at the Altus, Okla. rodeo a few weeks earlier. It wasn’t the best steer in the draw, but the team made it work. “Brandon told me he’d let him get out there (in the arena), and try to win something on him but not do anything crazy,” Ray said. “The steer squirted out of there and jumped to the right. Brandon smoked it on him. It was just a good run. At these rodeos, there are a lot of good teams there, but you don’t want to beat yourself.”

A WNFR qualifier, Ray works for a stock contractor, putting on the Mesquite, Texas rodeo in the summers and rodeos when he has a chance. It was his first time to Elk City, and Steven Johnson, the rodeo committee man who volunteers to park contestants, made a strong impression on him. “We got there a little before the rodeo, and the parking lot was full. (Steven) had to park us on the street. He was friendly, and he realized we needed to get to our truck and horses, and he helped us out.”

Ray has qualified for the Texas Circuit Finals a dozen times. He and his wife Robbin have two daughters, both in college, and Ray goes to their rodeos, but takes on a spectator role at them. “I don’t get to go into the arena,” he said. “I have to sit in the stands, which is kind of hard.”

Favorite food on the road:  “I’m a fruit person. As I’ve gotten older, I try not to have pizza and other crazy things like that. I like bananas, oranges, and apples.”
Favorite music while traveling:  “Unfortunately, my wife and kids don’t like it so much, but I listen to Rural Radio on Sirius/XM all the time. They have rodeos, the Western Sports Round-Up. I’m a rodeo fan. To my detriment, I over-rodeo it sometimes, I guess.”
Nickname:  “From forever, Boogie has been my name. My middle name is Benjamin, and my mom nicknamed me Boogie, because she didn’t want me to be called Benjie.” Boogie ran for the PRCA team roping director position several years ago, and on the ballot, he was listed as Lee Ray. “They put my name as Lee Ray, and nobody knew who it was.”
Role models: With his work at the Mesquite rodeo, Ray has been able to see rodeo from both sides. He admires both the contestant and the stock contractor. “The contestants, they’re trying to win, and the stock contractors, they’re trying to pencil it out by producing an event that people want to come to, that people want to watch, that’s not just contestant-oriented. It’s neat to see the guys who have succeeded in it and the way they do it.”

 

Saddle bronc riding champion – Brady Hill

Brady Hill’s biggest win so far in his career was at Elk City in 2018.

The Onida, S.D. cowboy scored 85 points on Beutler and Son’s Wound Up to win $3,068 and the saddle bronc riding title.

The horse, who has been selected to buck at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo five times, was one Hill was delighted to have, even though the ride went by in a flash. “I don’t remember a whole lot of the ride. I just blacked out when I nodded. I nodded and the subconscious mind took over and let my body do what I’ve been training it to do.”

The twenty-year-old cowboy is a student at Western Texas College in Snyder, where he will graduate in May of 2019 with a degree in metal fabrications. He rodeos for the college, and last year, finished tenth in the nation at the College National Finals Rodeo.

After graduation, he plans on rodeoing full time.

Favorite movie: Comedies, especially those with Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler
Role model: Billy Etbauer. “He’s a five-time world champion from South Dakota, he was born and raised there. He’s a kind of a go-for-it, all or nothing kind of bronc rider. He had a really classy style.”  

 

Tie-down roping champion – Mason Carter

Mason Carter won the tie-down roping at the 2018 Rodeo of Champions.

The Checotah, Okla. cowboy had a time of 9.3 seconds to win the first place check for $1,622.

Carter comes from a long line of cowboys. His granddaddies on both sides were cowboys. Granddad Roy Duvall, on his mom’s side, was a three-time world champion steer wrestler. Granddad Roy Carter, on his dad’s side, is a cutting horse trainer, owns bucking bulls, and used to ride bulls. “I didn’t have a choice,” Carter said, of rodeoing. But his Granddad Duvall made sure he was not going to ride bulls. When he was a kid, Granddad Carter put him in the steer riding, and when he dismounted, he slipped and the steer stepped on his face. “I wasn’t supposed to be in (the steer riding) but he thought I could ride them,” Carter said. “I’m glad they broke the egg in me earlier in the bull riding.”

In addition to the tie-down roping, he steer wrestled in Elk City the last two years. In 2017, he tied for fifth place in the steer wrestling. He likes both events, but roping sometimes works out better for him, “just because I’m not a real big guy. But if I draw a good steer, I can throw them just as fast.”

Favorite food while traveling: Beef jerky  
Favorite music while traveling:  “We listen to a little bit of rock, a little bit of country. I like all music: rock, country, rap.”
Nickname:  Mase 
Role models: “My granddads, both of them. They rodeoed their whole life, they know how to enter, ways to get to the rodeo, everything. They’ve been there and done that. Both of them are giving me advice, and it helps. When I’m in a position where I don’t have as good a calf, they can help me get through it, or they might know an easier way.”  

Barrel racing co-champion Dona Kay Rule

Dona Kay Rule split the barrel racing title at the 2018 Elk City Rodeo.

The Minco, Okla. cowgirl rounded the barrels in 15.82 seconds to tie with Randi Buchanan.

She was aboard her ten-year-old gelding, High Valor, “Valor.” The sorrel, purchased from Lana Marek of Canadian River Quarter Horses, is really kind, she says, and “doesn’t have as many quirks as my last horse did, which is kind of nice.” She won second place on Valor in Elk City in 2017.

Elk City is a special rodeo to her and her husband, John David Rule, because of the rodeo connections. The Rules, who owned National Saddlery in the Oklahoma City Stockyards for thirty years, did business with the Beutler family. She is also appreciative of the effort the rodeo committee goes to, for the rodeo. “There are so many neat things they do,” she said, pointing out the $100 bonus that goes to the fast run or high scored ride in each event and each performance. “They make you feel so welcome. Some places you go and you don’t feel that way. Not in Elk City. They welcome you with open arms.”

Favorite snack while traveling:  spicy nacho Doritos, sweet tea, and cherry sours. “If I have all those things, I can make it for miles.”
Favorite music while traveling:  Christian music or really old country. (Christian artist) “Toby Mac is my favorite.”
Role model: “Anybody who has quality horsemanship. I always admire quality horsemanship.” Her dad, Don Fredrickson, is also a role model. “My dad is my one hundred percent inspiration. He raised me, and it was just me and him. He worked hard, he played hard, and he practiced hard. He instilled responsibility in me. When it was time to work, you worked. When it was time to play, you had fun.”

Barrel racing co-champion Randi Buchanan

Randi Buchanan tied with Dona Kay Rule for the barrel racing win at the 2018 Elk City Rodeo.

Buchanan had a time of 15.82 seconds to split the win and earn a check for $1,657.

She was aboard her eleven-year-old bay mare, Royal Flighta Fame, “Cricket.” Cricket, a cutting horse reject, had fibrotic myopathy, a gait abnormality. The horse was unwanted, but her owner, Wilma Hybarger of Fallon, Nev., lent her to Buchanan for two years to train. Cricket turned out to be an exceptional barrel horse, and Buchanan had a connection with her.

But she was sold to someone else. When that person put her back up for sale, Buchanan jumped at the chance to buy her. “I sold my trailer and put my truck up for collateral,” she said. “I told my fiancé that I’d rather have her in my pasture as a brood mare than not have her at all.”

Cricket did well in Elk City. “Once I got around the second barrel, I knew I was going to have a good run,” Buchanan said. “She came out (into the arena) and was running from the minute she hit the alley way. She was really, really working there, She was really firing.”

Her victory lap was almost as memorable as her winning run. “I almost fell off my horse,” she laughed. The victory lap horse was provided, and “he looked at the barrel and spooked. I thought, I’d better get my seat.”

Buchanan grew up near Reno, Nev. She is a 2017 graduate of Oklahoma Panhandle State University with a degree in biology. She and her fiancé Peyton Holliday, will marry in November 2019.

Favorite restaurant: Freddy’s Steakburgers and Frozen Custards. “Ice cream is my weakness,” she said. “I can thank (fellow barrel racer) Cayla Small for that one.”

Role model: Wilma Hybarger, a former trick rider, cutting horse rider and barrel racer who lives in Fallon, Nev. She has “honestly been a blessing in my life. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be where I am today, nor would I have the horses I’m on.” 

Her parents are also role models for her. Buck and Shari Buchanan have done all they can to help their daughter. Shari “always taught me that you never stop learning. She put me with some of the greatest horsemen around. My mom has given me everything: from her last dollar to get me to a rodeo, to teaching me how to stand on my own two feet, to being respectful. I hope I become her one day.”

Her dad has given his daughter his sense of humor. “Dad keeps my humor alive, for sure.”

 

Bull riding champion Garrett Tribble

Garrett Tribble has competed at the Beutler Bros. Arena several times as a youth, but never in the pro rodeo.

And he came home from his first Rodeo of Champions last year a winner.

He scored 84 points on the Beutler and Son Rodeo Co. bull The Gift to win the 2018 title.

The Bristow, Okla. cowboy lives about three hours from Elk City and competed there because it’s a circuit rodeo.

Tribble, Bristow, Okla., has been to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo twice (2016 and 2018).

Favorite snack while traveling:  Gummy bears. “I eat gummy bears all the time.” 
Favorite music while traveling:  “Usually country music but you have to throw in a little mix of rap or rock to get pumped up every now and then.” 
Nickname: “Some of my buddies call me G-Man or Trib.”
Role model:  Lane Frost and Chris Shivers. “Lane was one of my heroes, ever since I was a little kid. When I was a kid, I watched the movie Eight Seconds every day. Chris, too. I liked his attitude and the way he rode bulls.”