Ignacio grad to rodeo in La Junta

The late New York Yankee baseball great Lawrence Peter Berra, amongst all his well-known ‘Yogi-isms,’ once remarked, ‘When you come to a fork in the road, take it.’

Recent Ignacio High School graduate Tyler Beebe did exactly that … sort of.

For whereas the famous catcher’s comment likely referred to the pursuit of multiple possibilities produced by one’s hunt of a primary objective, two options—one much more visible to CHSAA’s masses—Beebe pursued as a Pine River Valley prep more or less combined to singularly route him into his post-Bobcat future …

… as a two-sport student-athlete at La Junta-based Otero Junior College.

“I was originally going to go there and wrestle, but I didn’t get a Letter-of-Intent,” he said.  “So I told them we’d talk to the rodeo coach, and the rodeo coach offered me a scholarship.  I was like, ‘Sweet!’”

“He’s one of my only two-sport athletes…it’s a unique situation,” said OJC Wrestling head coach Chris Hacker, a two-time Class 4A 152-pound State Champion at El Reno, Okla., and former teammate of not only future international standout Jordan Burroughs but also San Juan Basin League products Tucker Lane (Nucla) and Dustin Weitzel (Dolores) at the University of Nebraska.

“Rodeo is going to help him pay for school,” he stated, “and definitely help him get ready for the season.”

That means in addition to riding and roping for a National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association program which will have one representative in Casper, Wyo., at the upcoming (June 12-18) 68th College National Finals Rodeo, Beebe will be walking on to Colorado’s first-ever varsity mat squad at a two-year institution.

“He’s proud of me,” said Beebe, referring to IHS Wrestling Head Coach Jordan Larsen.  “I wrestle with him every day, so he’s like, ‘You’re going to be good in college.  You’ve just got to work like you do in our room.’”

Beebe went 37-12 his senior season for 2A Ignacio and placed fifth at 132 pounds inside Denver’s Pepsi Center to end his second (he’d also gone at 120 for 3A Bayfield in ’12-13) run in a grand-finale bracket.

“At the Rocky Mountain Nationals (March 19-20, also in the Mile High City) I talked to Coach Hacker, and I went and visited the campus,” Beebe recalled.  “Then we went and visited the rodeo coach….”

That would be Linsay Sumpter, wife of six-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo-qualifying steer wrestler Wade (originally hailing from Fowler, he played football at University of Northern Colorado in Greeley), but for whom Beebe will hope to emulate another preeminent Wade—a seven-time WNFR qualifier in his own specialty.

“Wade Sundell,” he said, of the Boxholm, Iowa, saddle bronc star who placed third in the average (737.5 on nine head) at the 2015 WNFR in Las Vegas, Nev., and second in the final world standings with $273,065 earned.

“I plan to do saddle bronc and team-rope,” said Beebe, interested in studies toward an Associate of Applied Science degree in Livestock Production at OJC.  “I haven’t team-roped at all this year, but out there I’m going to start so I can get my horse in shape and ready to go.”

“I rode two broncs a while ago, and this year I started up again,” he continued.  “I have fun doing it.”

“A kid who’s a little green in riding broncs, there’s room for him to develop at Otero,” Sumpter said.  “And he’s very dedicated to the fitness side of the sport, from having wrestled, played football.”

Rattler Rodeo’s 2015-16 campaign concluded April 29 through May 1 in Laramie, Wyo., at the University of Wyoming’s 67th Annual Laramie River Rendezvous, and OJC ended the season with its men and women each finishing ninth in the NIRA’s Central Rocky Mountain Region team standings, and a dozen individuals ranked.

Leading Otero overall was Fowler product Nichole Waggoner, who finished the season splitting third and fourth place in barrel racing, making her the first Rattler to reach the CNFR since the program’s 2009 reinstatement (it was axed due to funding cuts in about 1985).

Another OJC standout, however, could be a better barometer for Beebe in his first go-round (pun intended).

For not only did 2015 Gridley (Calif.) H.S. grad Mason Mardesich crack the ’15-16 CRMR rankings in three disciplines as a freshman, but peaked at sixth in…yep…saddle bronc, in which he’d also qualified for last summer’s National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyo.  Also ranked for OJC’s men was Pueblo County alum Brady McCurry, a top-ten team roper.

Otero’s 2016-17 competition schedule is currently shown as beginning Sept. 16-18 with Chadron State College’s rodeo held at the Dawes County (Neb.) Fairgrounds.  A trip to the 56th Annual Sheridan, Wyo., College Rodeo (also dubbed the 26th Annual Sheridan College Pat Hamilton Memorial Rodeo) follows from the 23rd to 25th.

Action within the Centennial State’s rectangle then gets underway, but not far away with the Rattlers making the short haul east to Lamar Community College’s event running Sept. 30-Oct. 2.

“Well I plan to go just like I go into our wrestling room: Do it a hundred-ten percent, bust my butt every day,” said Beebe.  “But the college level’s going to be different; I’m going to have to work a lot harder.”

Sounds like the type of attitude Linsay Sumpter and OJC can’t wait to saddle up and turn loose.

“He’ll have a week or so to get used to the college life at Otero,” she said.  “But we do start on the sixteenth (of September), so…we hit the ground running!”

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