Roping competition snares Hazelbaker

By JOCELYN SHEETS
Register Sports Editor

Register/Jocelyn Sheets
Doug Hazelbaker stands with his horse roping horse, Doc, at his Redfield home. In the saddle are Hazelbaker’s daughters, Dakota and Dylan. Hazelbaker will compete in tonight’s Allen County Fair Rodeo in the Forty-and-Over calf roping.

REDFIELD — For a young rodeo family, the United Rodeo Association (URA) has been a good fit.
Doug and Jana Hazelbaker grew up with the sport of rodeo. They both competed in youth rodeos, high school and college rodeos. The past four years the Hazelbakers have been going together in URA rodeos.
“I’ve competed in URA rodeos since I got out of high school in 1983,” Doug Hazelbaker said, “but until the last four years, I’d travel to rodeos by myself and Jana would go by herself. Since we’ve had kids the URA has made it nice.
“We go together and the URA rodeos are family-oriented .”
Doug Hazelbaker will be back at home of sorts tonight. He competed for the Allen County Community College rodeo team from 1983-85 here in Iola. He graduated from Uniontown High School and after ACCC, he was on the rodeo team at Northwest Oklahoma State University in Alva, Okla.
Tonight in the opening performance of the 2009 Allen County Fair Rodeo, Hazelbaker — Doug that is — will be competing in the 40-and-over roping and the calf roping events. Jana won’t be in the arena for awhile.
“I was practicing and my horse fell on me,” Jana explained, as she looked at the cast on her right leg. She broke her foot and had to have surgery early in July. “We hadn’t been going to many rodeos at the time of the accident.”
Jana competes in breakaway roping and some barrel racing. She grew up in Carthage, Mo., and was a member of the Fort Scott Community College rodeo team. She was practicing with the FSCC team when she met Doug, “who is older but was practicing with the team,” she said.
Jana went on to Pittsburg State University to finish her education.

Top URA talent here for rodeo

Tonight and Wednesday night Allen County Fair Rodeo fans will see some of the top talent in the United Rodeo Association (URA) plus some of the winners from the 2008 Allen County event back to go after the top prizes in 2009.
Three-time URA All-Around Champion Missy Bennett of Buffalo will run tonight in the barrel racing. She is the four-time defending URA barrel racing champion. She is currently leading both all-around and barrel racing events in the URA standings.
Bennett will be in tonight’s slack (which is the overflow contestants in some events each night) in the breakaway roping.
The URA leading bareback bronc rider this season in Billy Griffin, who will compete here Wednesday night. Jake McKellips is third in the all-around and leads the saddle bronc standings and will be here Wednesday.
URA rookie Brant Embrey is fourth in the bull riding standings and he rides tonight. There are 214 entries in the nine events for Allen County’s two-night rodeo.
Top ropers in team roping, calf roping, Forty-and-Over and breakaway will go each night.

The URA sanctions rodeos primarily in a nine-state area of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The URA goes year round, beginning in September or October. The URA championship finals rodeo is held each fall featuring the top 15 contestants in each of nine events.
Checking the URA Web site, Doug is second in the standings for Forty-and-Over calf roping and is 29th in calf roping. In high school and college, Doug competed in steer wrestling, calf roping and team roping. After that came the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association) rodeos plus the URA circuit.
“I had a lot of exposure to the sport growing up. My dad (Norman Hazelbaker) judged a lot of rodeos and we went with him,” Doug said. “I just love to rope and the competition keeps me in the sport. I can rope and practice here at home but it’s the competition that I really enjoy.”
Last year, Doug was second in the Forty-and-Over calf roping at the Allen County rodeo with a run of 12.6 seconds. Wade Wilson, Kincaid, was first at 12.1 seconds. Doug placed third in the calf roping event with a run of 9.8 seconds.
“A good run depends on the set up, the length of the arena and the length of the barrier. When I was younger, I took more chances trying to rope and win,” Doug said. “Now, I realize they pay for more places than first but you always want that winning run.”
In the Forty-and-Over, Doug said he’s looking to tie a calf in under 10 seconds and really should be able to get in the 8-second range.
“I’m roping smarter and more consistent now than I did when I was younger. I just go out and make the best of the calf I’ve drawn,” Doug said.
He said his 23-year-old gelding “Doc” is working the best he has been since he has had the horse. The past eight years Doug has roped off of Doc and this season the horse is healthy and sound.
“You want it all to come together and right now, he’s working well and I’m roping better. We’re just going out there each night and making the best run we can.”
The Hazelbakers have two daughters, Dylan, 5, and Dakota, 2.