By Ted Harbin/for the Will Rogers Stampede
CLAREMORE, Okla. – Laine Herl is just 21 years old and has big dreams in the world of rodeo.
He took a pretty big step forward May 22 during the first performance of the Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo. Herl, of Goodland, Kan., posted a 4.1-second run to take the early lead in steer wrestling with two performances remaining.
“I’d really like to win the rookie of the year (award),” said Herl, the No. 2 cowboy in the Resistol Rookie of the Year standings. “I drew a good steer and had a good start. That makes a big difference.”
Herl just finished the 2014-15 college rodeo season in fourth place in the steer wrestling standings while competing at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, about three hours west of Claremore. Unfortunately, only the top three earn the right to compete at the College National Finals Rodeo that will take place next month in Casper, Wyo.
“I missed the college finals by just five points,” he said, noting that the region was filled with talented steer wrestlers. “We had about half the top 15 guys from Northwestern. Practice was tough, but everybody was there to help everybody else.”
That came in handy as he prepared to take his place among the top competitors in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the premier sanctioning body for the sport. He’s traveling with veteran Jule Hazen, a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Ashland, Kan.
“Jule’s helped me a lot,” Herl said. “My horse got hurt, so he allowed me to get on his. I’ve just learned a lot from him. It helps with the little things that nobody would really notice. They do all the fine-tuning things that nobody really sees, but that makes a big difference.”
Herl was a multi-sport star at Goodland High School and had scholarship opportunities in both wrestling and football. He chose rodeo instead.
“My dad bulldogged for a long time,” he said. “He was still going when I was growing up, and it made me want to do it. For me, rodeo’s a better sport because everybody’s willing to help everybody else.”
Courtesy of PRCA