By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (August 1, 2017) — Lane Livingston travels with 3-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier Marty Yates and counts 2005 world champion and 10-time NFR qualifier Ryan Jarrett among his closest friends.
On a Sunday when one of his career goals came true in just his rookie season, Livingston, an Erath County resident living just north of Stephenville, succeeded Yates and edged out Jarrett as champion of the Cheyenne Frontier Days.
“It still kind of shocking and hasn’t really sunk in,” said Livingston. You go there as a rookie, and you’ve been and watched it a couple times, but you still don’t really know what to expect until you do it. Then the first calf went pretty well, and that built confidence for the second run. On Sunday, I got a good calf and made the most of it, and everything since then has just been kind of a whirlwind, in a good way, of course.”
Livingston took third in the finals in 14.3 seconds, wrapping up his three-head performance in Cheyenne with a total time of 38.0 seconds. Jarrett was 38.4 for second, and third place was the legendary Trevor Brazil in 39.1.
A past Tarleton State rodeo athlete who earned the bulk of his college success at Weatherford College, Livingston, a native of Seymour, said the experience of winning at Cheyenne was greater than he ever imagined.
“You get in the practice arena and you’re running that final four calf at The American or that short-round calf at Cheyenne, you’re always imagining something like that,” said Livingston. “But it’s so surreal when you are actually there, backing into the box for real in the short round at ‘The Daddy of Them All.’ It’s shocking, really, but it’s still a good feeling. You could say it’s a feeling like none other, because there’s just nothing quite like knowing you’re in that box on Sunday with a chance to win Cheyenne Frontier Days.”
But thanks to preparation, Livingston says his confidence never wavered.
“It was surreal, but at the same time, I felt a sense of confidence, like I can do this. I guess that just comes from practicing so much. When you put the time in and train yourself to tune out the distractions of everything around you, suddenly it’s just about doing your job. That’s the way I approached it.”
Winning the average meant more than $9,700 was added to the 6,400-plus he picked up in first round – tied for second in 10.7 – and the short-go – his third-place finish in 14.3 earned him more than 1,200. Just as important as his money-making runs were staying in the average in the second round, when he roped and tied in 13.0. He missed the money, but 13 is a good time at Cheyenne, certainly enough to keep a contender alive.
The win did more than just keep alive Livingston’s hopes of winning the Resistol Rookie of the Year title.
Livingston more than doubled his season earnings at Cheyenne, moving him to winning 1,900 of the lead in the rookie tie-down standings. He had just more than $14,000 previously, and now has $30,280.75 officially for the year. Louisiana cowboy Justin Smith maintains a narrow lead with $32,151.60, followed by Tyler Milligan of Oklahoma at $31,026. Those are the only tie-down rookies with more than $15,200.
“I had a lot of success at Weatherford in the college rodeos, but this out here, being on the road all the time, this is a whole different animal,” said Livingston. “Sometimes we’re competing one day, driving 1,200 miles to get to the next one and we get there and are ready to go again on just two hours sleep. I guess I’m just now starting to get used to all that, because I didn’t know how to handle it at first, really.
“I wasn’t winning as much as I would have liked, but when you win ‘The Daddy,’ it can turn things around in a hurry,” he said. “I definitely want to win the Resistol Rookie of the Year. There’s a lot of money still out there and I want to win as much of it as I can and then just see where I’m at.”
Livingston returned with Yates to Erath County following the biggest win of his career, but the rest at home is short lived. They head out to Dalhart Wednesday with three competitions to follow in Kansas – Abilene (KS, not TX) on Thursday, Phillipsburg Friday and Dodd City on Saturday. Then it’s home for a week before a grueling five weeks on the road.
Livingston is proud that coming home means parking the truck and trailer in Erath County. He loves his hometown, but Seymour is not Stephenville. Nor is anywhere else, says the young cowboy.
“I’ve been here four years and I love it because it’s the Cowboy Capital of the World. I can’t imagine a more fitting place for a guy like myself. It’s where the highest level of competitors in our sport have gathered, there is always a roping or jackpot going on and it’s centrally located for all the winter rodeos. It really is the Cowboy Capital of the World. The name says it all.”
Livingston wasn’t alone among past Tarleton athletes winning at Cheyenne, where the 2017 saddle-bronc riding champ is Brody Cress.
Cress conquered Black Box, of Sankey Pro rodeo & Robinson Bulls, for 88.5 points in Sunday’s finals, winning both the round and the average.
Cress tied for fourth in the first round, scoring 83.5 points and pocketing almost $1,500. He added almost $3,800 for an 84-point, second-place ride in the second-go.
His victory in the finals was worth $1,650 and the average paid more than $7,300. In all, Cress pulled out of Cheyenne with $14,241.