MPCC cowboy finishes third in the nation
Mid-Plains Community College steer wrestler JD Draper is third in the nation following the conclusion of the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo. Draper threw his third and final steer in 5.2 seconds during the short go on Saturday.
“JD did very well,” said Garrett Nokes, MPCC rodeo team timed event coach. “He made good, consistent runs all the way through. There were a couple of times when he could have probably pressed harder, but the important thing is that he stayed in there, and that’s what a person needs to do at that level of competition.”
Draper, of Oakley, Kan., had a total time of 20.2 seconds on three head.
“He was never quicker than 4.8, but never longer than 5.2,” said Nokes. “He just got in there and took care of business every run.”
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Making it to the final round of the CNFR had been a goal of Draper’s for a long time. Once he was there, he had to contend with the pressure of competing alongside the toughest steer wrestlers in the country — many of them professionals.
“Garrett taught me to think about one steer at a time, which helped,” Draper said. “I had to look at the competition as just another rodeo. Whether it’s the biggest rodeo in the world, or a day in the practice pen, I have to focus on me and doing the best job I can.”
He was quick to point out that the success wasn’t his alone, however.
“I have to thank Garrett, steer wrestler Chad VanCampen, of McCook, and my family,” said Draper. “If not for them, I wouldn’t have been able to do as well as I did. I also want to thank Austin Madison (a MPCC rodeo team member from Whiting, Iowa) for hazing for me.”
Draper plans to return to Mid-Plains in the fall to spend one more year learning the business side of rodeo from Nokes. His CNFR qualifying teammates: Madison; Koby Jacobson, of Haiku, Hawaii; Marshall Still, of Oconto; Danielle Wray, of Ord and Wyatt Williams and team alternate Chance Williams, both of Ord, will all return with him. The only one who will not is Clay Bauer, of Arcadia, who graduated.
“I think it’s awesome as a community college to take seven to nationals and only lose one going into the next year,” Nokes said. “Now that they’ve had that experience, there’s no doubt in my mind that they will be back.”
Nokes said the steer wrestlers as a whole did an outstanding job. Still’s first steer dog fell with him, meaning the steer fell in the opposite direction that Still was trying to throw him. Still had to stand the steer up and re-throw him.
“He made a good run in the second round and placed in the third round,” said Nokes. “He just missed the short go by two, and finished 14th in the nation. Austin Madison had a pretty strong steer in the first round, then he came back and had a 4.5 in the second round to place seventh. He should have won the third round, but the steer hung a leg, and he had to roll him off it.”
Nokes said if Madison’s final steer would have hit like he was supposed to, Madison probably would have had a 3.4-3.5 and would have won the round.
“I don’t know if was jitters, but the rest of the team didn’t have much luck,” Nokes said. “The team ropers both had trouble in the first round, and that makes it awful tough. It ends up being a rough week when you start off like that.”
In the tie-down roping, Bauer was riding a borrowed horse and had never roped a fresh calf on him. His timing was off. He missed the first calf, then roped the second, but the calf got up. Bauer took a chance on the third calf, trying to be fast, and missed it as well.
“The team ropers did good,” said Nokes. “Maybe they could have been helped by their partners a little bit more or done better themselves, but they will be back. Koby hadn’t seen bulls like that before. They were big, rank professional bulls, and he couldn’t quite make it to the whistle on any of the three, but I have no doubts that he will be back there next year, too, going for a bit of revenge.”
Overall, Nokes was happy with how the team did and the exposure they got to a higher level of competition.
“I was awful proud of how the kids handled themselves both in and out of the rodeo arena,” Nokes said. “Even when things weren’t going so well for them, they were polite and respectful and carried their heads high. I think that’s a great reflection on them, on the team and on Mid-Plains Community College.” ❖
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