2016 Kansas Biggest Rodeo Champions
2016 bareback riding champion – Clayton Biglow
Clayton Biglow won the bareback riding title at the 2016 Kansas Biggest Rodeo.
The Clements, Calif. cowboy topped the scoreboard with 84.5 points on Beutler and Son Rodeo’s horse Pebbles, a horse he knew he would do well on, but he didn’t think he’d win the rodeo with his score. “I thought something better would win it, but I got lucky,” he said.
The 2016 season was an exceptional one for the 21-year-old cowboy. He won the 2016 Resistol Rookie of the Year award and qualified for his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The Wrangler NFR was wonderful. “It was a dream come true,” he said, “everything I thought, and more. I was nervous, but if you’re not nervous, you’re not human. But it was a good nervous. I wanted to get my first one out of the way, and after that, it would be just like another rodeo.” He’s anxious to qualify again. “They treat you like royalty. It was an amazing experience, and I can’t wait to do it again.”
At the 2016 Wrangler NFR, he won rounds two and three, and finished seventh in the world.
Last year, he traveled with fellow bareback rider Wyatt Denny, and this year, Kash Wilson jumps in the rig. They love to find fun things to do on the road, often golfing. “We do it all,” Biglow said, “if it has a thrill to it. We’ll go on Google Maps and see if there are lakes. Paddle boarding, rock climbing, we play a lot of basketball at the gym. We’ve found a lot of cool things to do on the road.” Clayton didn’t have the chance to golf in Phillipsburg; he and Denny were on to the next rodeo after their rides.
The Phillipsburg rodeo is a memorable one for them. “It’s a Bennie rodeo,” Clayton said. “To win one of his is pretty cool, and that’s a cool rodeo. Those are my favorite ones, those in small towns. (The small town rodeos) stick out in your mind, and when you’ve been to the big ones, they’re a breath of fresh air.”
2016 steer wrestling champion – Jake Kraupie
Jake Kraupie made his first trip to Phillipsburg count.
The Gering, Neb. cowboy turfed his steer in 3.5 seconds to win the 2016 Kansas Biggest Rodeo title.
Kraupie, a good friend of two-time world champion steer wrestler Dean Gorsuch, rodeoed last year with Gorsuch, and in Phillipsburg, was riding Gorsuch’s horse Chevy.
Chevy, a 15-year-old sorrel gelding, is a winner, Kraupie said. “He’s a great horse. He scored really good and he can dang sure run hard.” Kraupie rodeoed in the Northwest with Gorsuch two years ago and rode the horse there as well. “He takes a little getting used to, but not much. He is just a wonderful horse, he tries his butt off every time, and gives you a chance to win.”
Gorsuch, who is nearly twenty years Kraupie’s senior, helped Kraupie and his brother Del Ray get started. They had steer wrestled before they met Gorsuch, but after they bought a horse from him, he began helping them practice. He has improved the Kraupie brothers’ game, Jake said. “He not only taught us how to bulldog, but he taught us how to be a winner. He’s always upbeat. It doesn’t matter if you land on your head, he finds something good to tell you about. He doesn’t look at the negatives, he looks at the positives.”
Kraupie works with his family in their auction business, selling real estate, farm equipment and antiques.
2016 team roping champion header – Colby Lovell
Colby Lovell teamed up with heeler Travis Graves in Phillipsburg to make what he considered their best run of the year.
Not only did the duo win the Phillipsburg rodeo, they won the Abilene, Kan. rodeo the same weekend, and the checks were appreciated. “When you get two back to back wins like that,” Lovell said, “it’s like playing leapfrog.” Lovell was securely in the top fifteen in the world before the weekend, but Graves, who didn’t start pro rodeo till June, needed to win more. “It takes a lot of stress off things,” Lovell said. “You don’t want (a qualification to the Wrangler NFR) to come down to the last rodeos.”
The six-time Wrangler NFR qualifier rode his thirteen-year-old palomino, Fast Time, all of last year. The horse is “probably the best horse I’ve had. He’s taken me further, and given me a chance to win the world,” Lovell said. “I have a lot of fond memories with him. Every steer I ran, he gave me one hundred percent, every time.”
Fast Time no longer belongs to Lovell; the Madisonville, Texas cowboy has sold his horses and cut back on his roping. He’s decided to stay closer to home, so he can enjoy his wife, Kassidy, and children, a son, who is eleven, and a daughter, who is three. Rodeo isn’t an easy lifestyle when a person has children at home, and Lovell’s daughter would call her daddy, crying, “and that’s hard,” he said. But he continues to rope at local rodeos and may someday rodeo farther from the house.
It was the second time Lovell has won the Phillipsburg rodeo; he did it in 2012 as well. His mother wears one of the buckles, and the other is displayed at his home.
2016 team roping champion heeler – Travis Graves
Travis Graves heeled for header Colby Lovell to make the winning team roping run at the 2016 Phillipsburg rodeo.
Graves, of Jay, Okla., partnered with Lovell for a 3.8 second run.
The eight-time Wrangler NFR qualifier had a good steer in Phillipsburg, he said. “He ran straight, He rode his seventeen-year-old sorrel horse named Manny, who he has owned for six years. “He’s my best horse, a really good, solid horse who scores really good. He does the same thing every time. He’s just a winner. He knows his job.”
Graves thinks last year was about the fifth time he’d competed in Phillipsburg, and he enjoys the rodeo. “They’ve done a good job for such a small town, in adding a lot of money. They hustle up and get that money for us. It’s crazy. I don’t understand how they do it, but I’m glad they do.”
2016 saddle bronc riding champion – Jacobs Crawley
Jacobs Crawley loves Phillipsburg on a Saturday night.
The 2015 PRCA World Champion saddle bronc rider scored 86 points on the Beutler and Son horse Little Angel on the Saturday night performance of the 2016 rodeo to win the championship.
He was tickled to be in town. “You got a Saturday night, and they pack (the fans) in, and there’s more people at the rodeo than in the whole town,” he said. “That’s what I like being part of.”
A PRCA member since 2006, he loves what he calls the “Kansas run:” the rodeos in Kansas the first weekend of August, including Phillipsburg, Abilene, Hill City, and Dodge City. “Those rodeos are the heart and the soul of our association,” he said. “They get great crowds, and everybody is excited about rodeo. There’s nothing more fun than being at an exciting rodeo on a Saturday night in Kansas.”
He loves the travel part of rodeo nearly as much as he loves riding bucking horses. “I think it’s a blast to see new things and go to new places. Every time we go (to a rodeo), there’s a celebration and a fair and they’re all excited about you being there. I think it’s cool that we get to go from town to town and experience it, not to mention the bucking horses when we get there. It’s a total package.” His optimistic view of rodeo translates into his view of life: “If you’re not happy, you’re missing the point.”
When his wife, Lauren isn’t traveling with him, he goes with his younger brother, Sterling. “He’s my lifetime traveling partner,” he said. Sterling is also a saddle bronc rider; he has qualified for the Wrangler NFR three times, while Jacobs has qualified six times. Sterling won the Phillipsburg rodeo in 2014.
2016 tie-down roping champion – Taylor Santos
Taylor Santos loves the challenges of pro rodeo, and at Kansas Biggest Rodeo, he overcame the obstacles to win the 2016 tie-down roping title.
The Creston, Calif. cowboy roped his animal in a time of 8.1 seconds to win the three-piece buckle As a rookie, it was Santos’ first trip to the north-central Kansas town, as were most of his rodeo trips this year. He’s relied on rodeo veterans to learn the ropes. “After I roped (in Phillipsburg), I called (fourteen-time Wrangler NFR qualifier) Blair Burk, because I talk to him about entering. He asked how I did in Phillipsburg, and I said, I made a good run. He said, ‘well, I hope you win it so we can have matching buckles.’ They give the coolest three-piece buckle there, so that was exciting.” Santos has put the Phillipsburg buckle on his “nice belt, so I can wear it to weddings, special occasions, and banquets.” (Blair Burk won the tie-down roping at the Phillipsburg rodeo twice, in 2000 and 2002.)
The year 2016, his rookie year, was good for the Resistol Rookie of the Year winner, and “darn sure a learning experience,” he said. “It seems like you can have everything planned out, how things will go, but there are so many variables you have to learn to adjust to.”
The variables and constant challenges are what he enjoys about rodeo. Factor in entering, caring for a horse, driving to the rodeo, and drawing good, “and after all those variables, you have to execute,” he said. “There are always things to work on (in rodeo). Rodeo isn’t something you master and are always good at. It seems like it’s something a guy always has to work at. That’s why I like it. You can always get better at it.”
Last year, Santos rode Sid, an eleven-year-old dun gelding who this year will be his secondary horse. Hank, a fifteen-year-old bay, is his primary mount in 2017.
2016 barrel racing champion – Carley Richardson
Texas cowgirl Carley Richardson turned the barrels in 16.92 seconds to win the championship in Phillipsburg.
The cowgirl, a two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier, rode a 13-year-old gray gelding named Radio, who she made the WNFR on in 2015 and 2016. She and her family have owned Radio since he was a two-year-old, and she and her dad, Jim, trained him. Radio is very confident, Richardson said. “He’s not scared of anything. He has a real presence about him, like he knows he’s good. He’s not overly friendly. He likes to do his job and be left alone.”
Last year was the third time Richardson had competed in Phillipsburg, and she loves the rodeo. “I ran in slack,” she said, “and even in slack there’s a big crowd in the stands. It’s pretty neat that in that little bitty town, all those people are there.”
When she’s on the rodeo road, Carley tries to work in some touristy visits, or catch up on her sleep. She also likes to take care of her horses, and “eat somewhere good, besides gas station food.”
Usually her mom, Marsha Richardson, doesn’t travel with her, but all three times she’s been to Phillipsburg her mom has come along, too. “She likes that rodeo,” Carley said.
Carley was appreciative of the buckle she received as champion. “It’s a three-piece buckle set, and you don’t win those very often. It is beautiful.”
2016 bull riding champion – Sage Kimzey
Three-time world champion Sage Kimzey won the 2016 Kansas Biggest Rodeo’s bull riding title.
The Strong City, Okla. man rode Beutler and Son Rodeo’s Ranger Rick for 83 points to win the rodeo.
He knew Ranger Rick was capable of getting him to the pay window. “I knew I had a chance to win, if I could get him rode,” he said. “By the time Phillipsburg rolls around, everybody is super tired and has been on the road for two months. It’s always good to have one by your name that will give you a chance to win, and Ranger Rick is definitely that kind of a draw.”
Kimzey, who is the son of former bullfighter and barrelman Ted Kimzey, came to the Phillipsburg rodeo as a kid, when his father worked it in 1998 and again in 2000 (Kimzey also worked the rodeo in 1980-81). It’s not his hometown rodeo, but it has that type of a feel to it, he said. “The people there are great. It’s just a fun rodeo to come to. A lot of dad’s old friends are there, and new friends, too. It’s a fun place to get to come and compete at, for sure.”
When he’s on the rodeo road, he enjoys golfing. “I took up golfing in the past couple years. That’s what I do to slow everything down and get away from everything when I’m on the road. It’s a good change of pace.”
The 22-year-old cowboy has a goal: he’d like to win nine world championships, one more than the record of eight, held by Donnie Gay. And there are a lot of good years to come for him. “Staying healthy is the hard part of our sport. Barring injuries, I should have a good career ahead of me.”