The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

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February 6, 2014

RODEO COLUMN: Locals come up big in South Dakota

RAPID CITY, S.D. — In 2013, team roper Kory Koontz missed qualifying for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

In order to make the cut, a competitor must finish in the top 15 in a single event. Koontz, a 19-time NFR qualifier who lives in the West Texas town of Sudan, finished 21st in last year’s Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association team roping heeling standings.

This year, he’s making a bold attempt to return to the NFR. While competing in the PRCA’s Wrangler Champions Challenge on Tuesday, Feb. 4, in Rapid City, S.D., Koontz earned $4,800 after he and his partner, Colby Lovell of Madisonville, tied for first in team roping with a time of 4.6 seconds.

Lovell is a native of Huntsville who lives in Madisonville. He has qualified for the National Finals the past four years. In 2010, Lovell and Koontz partnered at the NFR.     

The Rapid City-based Champions Challenge was an invitational rodeo that featured 10 credentialed PRCA competitors in each event. Koontz and Lovell tied with 11-time world all-around champion Trevor Brazile and five-time NFR qualifier Travis Graves.

After picking up the $4,800 check in Rapid City, Koontz has earned more than $10,000 in the early part of 2014 season, a great start as he attempts to earn a 20th NFR back number. Koontz, 42, has qualified for the NFR from 1992 through 2007 and from 2010 through 2012.

Trevor Knowles won the title with a 3.9.

The other champions at the $108,000 rodeo were steer wrestler Trevor Knowles (3.9 seconds), bareback rider Steven Peebles (88 points), saddle bronc rider Cody Wright (88 points), barrel racer Andrea Cline (12.41 seconds) and bull riders Sage Steele Kimzey and Cody Teel (83 points each).

Teel, who lives in Kountze, is a former Sam Houston State star. He represented SHSU at the College National Finals Rodeo in 2011 when the clinched the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association bull riding title. He's also the PRCA's 2012 bull riding champion.    

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