The announcer calls her name. The paint horse dances underneath her. The gate opens into the arena. The red dirt is groomed perfectly, and the barrels wait ahead. She lets her horse go. The wind blows back her horse’s mane. Her horse’s hooves dig into that red dirt as it goes flying behind them. She’s done this hundreds of times, but the rush is still there. Sara Bynum, a senior, travelled to Durant to compete at the college rodeo along with other Ranger rodeo team members. Bynum made the fastest run of the weekend during her first barrel run on Saturday morning, which put her in the short round on Saturday night. During the short round Bynum placed fifth, but still was able to win the weekend average.
This is the second college rodeo of the year, and Bynum has done well at both of them. In Colby, Kansas, on Sept. 15-17,
she placed third in the weekend average in the barrel racing. This year Bynum is taking a different approach to rodeos.
“This year I just wanted to go have fun and not stress about every rodeo like I normally do,” Bynum said. Not only does Bynum hope to approach rodeos in this manner, but has been able to incorporate this into her life.
“I’ve had to stop worrying about what other people said about me and thought about me,” she said. “I’m just learning to be okay going alone, and being happy with what I have.” But Bynum isn’t alone. The paint horse that has taken Bynum to short rounds, college finals and multiple other wins is a horse she found on Craigslist for $600. Now Loretta, Bynum’s horse, is helping her succeed in the college ranks.
“My horse is a diamond in the rough,” she said. “I’m really blessed to have her because I could have never afforded her at
this point.” Bynum said she plans to have fun and let Loretta do her job at the upcoming rodeos. Although Bynum tries to stay out of Loretta’s way she does some mental preparation for herself. “Right before my run I try to see it perfect as many times as I
can,” she said. “As soon as I step on [Loretta] I just don’t think about [my run].”
Bynum’s run this weekend was a huge accomplishment for her and Loretta, because there are many competitive horses in our region. Not only does the barrel racing have a lot of competitive girls, but the other events throughout the weekend were competitive. Northwestern’s rodeo team competed with the best of them.
The Rangers are already having a better year than last. The men and women teams placed second in the team standings.
In the barrel racing, Bynum placed first in the average. Behind her in fifth, sixth and seventh place was Jennifer Massing,
Alyssa Gabrielson and Ashlyn Moeder. Gabrielson also made it to the short round in the breakaway roping. She placed eighth. Taylor Munsell placed second in the average. Cassy Woodward and Brittany Cudsworth also placed 10th and 11th.
The women did not have as good of a weekend in the goat tying. Kayla Copenhaver placedninth in the goat tying average, and was the only woman to make the short round. The Ranger men had three make it back in the tie down roping. Riley Wakefield placed third in the average. Tanner Nall and Ethan Price placed fifth and Bynum makes clean sweep sixth, respectively.
Wakefield also placed well in the team roping, winning first in the average with his partner
Jayden Johnson. Price placed second in the team roping average. Kass Bittle and Jaydon
Laubham placed fifth in the aver age. Dylan Schulenberg placed eighth in the average.
As usual, the men’s best event was the steer wrestling. Jace Rutledge won the weekend average.
He was followed by Brent Woodward, Bridger Anderson, Colton Madison and Colton Brown, who were in fifth, sixth, ninth and 10th.
“We have really competitive girls and guys in almost all the events, except the rough stock,” Bynum said. “I think we are very competitive and we will have a successful year.”
Success is one thing that Bynum thinks about a little differently than others. Going into the future she hopes to find her
own success, even if it isn’t the same path as others.
“One day I’d like to find a job that makes me happy,” she said. “I may not make a lot of money, but this last year has taught me
that being happy will make you more successful than being worried about everything and being miserable.”