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GUYMON, Okla. â€“ There is a powerful rodeo legacy in Texas County, Okla.
It might be the vast grasslands or the Western heritage that encompasses the landscape. It might be that there is a terrific proving ground just miles away from the county seat, at Oklahoma Panhandle State University.
The reality, though, is that this vast land is home to many of the greatest cowboys who have ever made a living on the rodeo trail. Those that still compete are already making their plans to return home for the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 1; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 3, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena.
â€śI love that rodeo,â€ť said Cort Scheer, the 2014 Reserve World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider from Elsmere, Neb. â€śIâ€™ve never won it, but thatâ€™s on the bucket list. In fact, itâ€™s closer to the top of the bucket list. Itâ€™s pretty much a hometown rodeo.â€ť
Scheer is a four-time qualifier to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and is one of five men who competed in Las Vegas this past December with ties to the area. He was joined by Taos Muncy, Tyler Corrington, Joe Frost and Trevor Brazile.
Brazile, the 21-time world champion who earned steer roping and all-around gold buckles in 2014, grew up near Gruver, Texas, just south of Guymon. He is the King of the Cowboys with world titles in three of four roping disciplines and a record 12 all-around championships. In Vegas, Brazile won more than $191,000 in team roping and tie-down roping.
Now living in Decatur, Texas, he is a multi-time Pioneer Days Rodeo champion. Thatâ€™s one of a couple of comparisons he shares with Muncy, a two-time world champion saddle bronc rider from Corona, N.M. While a sophomore at Panhandle State, Muncy won the college bronc riding championship, then followed it up in December with the world title.
He added another championship in 2011. His run in 2014 was worth a sixth-place finish. He is one of just three men to have won a college championship and a world championship in the same discipline in the same calendar year, joining all-around titlist Ty Murray and bull rider Matt Austin.
Frost had a chance at that run. As a junior at Panhandle State, he won the college bull riding title, then qualified for the NFR. From Randlett, Utah, he pocketed nearly $105,000, winning two go-rounds and finishing second in the average. He also finished as the Reserve World Champion.
Corrington is from Hastings, Minn., but now lives near Gruver. He earned more than $26,000 in Las Vegas and finished 11th in the world standings. His traveling partner, Scheer, had a big payday in the City of Lights, cashing in for more than $93,000. He won the opening round and finished second in the average.
Now theyâ€™re eyes are set on Texas County the first weekend in May. For Scheer, heâ€™ll carry on a strong legacy that comes with being a Panhandle State rodeo team alumnus.
â€śWith that, youâ€™ve got motivation and pressure,â€ť he said. â€śYou want to make them all proud. I donâ€™t know if Iâ€™ll ever do what they did, but Iâ€™m dang sure going to try.â€ť
Thatâ€™s quite a quest. In all, cowboys with ties to the Oklahoma Panhandle own 12 gold buckles: saddle bronc riders Billy Etbauer (5), Robert Etbauer (2), Muncy (2), Tom Reeves and Jeff Willert, and team roping heeler Jhett Johnson.
â€śItâ€™s an honor to ride in front of those guys,â€ť Scheer said. â€śGuymon is made for bronc riding. A lot of guys say itâ€™s South Dakota, but after the Etbauers moved down here from there, this is bronc riding territory. There are a lot of old guys around this area that rode broncs and rode them right.
â€śThere ainâ€™t no sugar-coating going on around here. You have a lot of world champions on the back of the bucking chutes. You can just get better because of the level of competition.â€ť