Two of Oklahoma's Own now can say they are the best college team ropers in the country.
Ochelata's Sawyer Barham and Durant's Kolton Schmidt won the championship at the College National Finals Rodeo in Wyoming last weekend.
“It was just good to go all that way and win,” Barham said.
The dirt, the dust and the moment that steer comes flying out the chute -- that's what cowboy Sawyer Barham lives for.
“It's more of a lifestyle than a sport. It takes pretty much everything you got,” Barham said.
For nine years, since he turned 12, Sawyer has been doing just that, giving roping everything he's got.
“It's just every minute of every day,” he said.
His love for the rodeo life landed him a full-ride team roping rodeo scholarship at Coffeyville Community College.
“It takes a lot of work," he said. "It's been fun, so it doesn't feel like work.”
It was all about fun Sunday, when he and his buddies saddled up for some friendly competition at a backyard arena in Chelsea.
Even on a small scale, Barham says he get an adrenaline rush, but his biggest rush, yet, came last weekend when he roped in the College National Finals Rodeo.
“It was great. I didn't know it'd be this big of a deal, really,” he said. “That was kind of when it started hitting, when I had to start doing stuff with ESPN.”
He and his partner Kolton Schmidt, of Southeastern Oklahoma State, won the championship. They beat every other college team in the country.
“Our fastest one was 5.1, then we was 6 on the rest of them. 6.2 and 6.7,” Barham said about their finishing time. “It's kind of weird when you say national championship rodeo, but if you really get to thinking about it, it's just like all the universities and everybody all rodeoes together.”
Schmidt was the header, in charge of the horns. Barham was the heeler, roping the hind legs, and he's pretty humble about it about his role.
“He [Schmidt] was probably more than half of it, really. He's the quarterback of it pretty much, he gets everything set up to make my job easy,” Barham said.
The guys won a year supply of Cinch clothing, a saddle, a big, shiny buckle, $2,800 each, and a chance to rope for a million-dollar prize during The American Rodeo in Dallas.
“I get an exemption to the semifinals, so if I make it to the finals, I'll have a chance at a million, it'll be a pretty cool deal,” he said.
It would also make him more recognizable in the rodeo circuit, although winning the national championship has given him a name in his own right.
“It's dang sure helped a lot, hopefully it'll help with sponsors and stuff and I can go a little bit more.” Barham said.
The short round of the College National Finals Rodeo will air on ESPNU in August.
The exact time and date have not been set.