After hiring Tom Reeves as the rodeo coach two years ago, Ranger College received a quick return on its bucks.

Reeves is the 2001 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world champion saddle bronc rider. When the 18-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier landed the coaching job in 2005, the college asked Reeves to start a rodeo program from scratch.

Under Reeves’ guidance, Ranger’s men’s team has advanced to this week’s College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo., after winning the 2006-07 men’s team title in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Southwest Region.

The College National Finals runs through Saturday and Ranger is competing against schools such as Sam Houston State, which advanced a men’s team from the NIRA Southern Region.

In order to earn a berth to the College National Finals, a team has to finish in the top two in a region. Ranger won a title in a region that’s traditionally very tough, with powerhouses such as Tarleton State and Vernon College, schools that have won men’s and women’s national titles within the past four years.

“When I recruit, I say, ‘If you want a bye, don’t come to this region,’ ” Reeves said.

Reeves takes advantage of having his team members interact with world-class competitors who either live in near Ranger or who make a special trip to the campus. He’s called on famous competitors such as former National Finals Rodeo qualifier Kelly Wardell (bareback riding) and Bobby Harter (saddle bronc riding) and 2005 Professional Bull Riders world champion Justin McBride.

“Tom really cares about the kids and he’s every bit as dedicated as a coach as he was as a competitor,” Wardell said.

Another advantage for Ranger is that Reeves owns rodeo stock, and he knows high-profile stock contractors. One of them is Stace Smith of Athens, the PRCA’s top stock contractor for the past three years. Smith has sent livestock to Ranger’s rodeo program.

“Our goal is to train world champions,” Reeves said. “We recruit kids with a good work ethic.”

In addition to clinching the Southwest Region team title, Ranger’s Steven Dent won the all-around, Dakota Shipp won the team roping heading and Kory Bramwell won the team roping heeling.

Dent also is a member of the PRCA. Rodeo athletes are allowed to compete on the pro and college circuits at the same time.

Last year, Dent was the PRCA’s top rookie in all-around and bareback riding. Reeves said he highly encourages his athletes to enter pro rodeos and develop relationships with the sport’s elite.

“It familiarizes them with the great guys of the sport,” Reeves said. “So, when they go to a big rodeo, they’re not in a corner alone.”

Bareback flashback

In 2002, Wes Stevenson of Kaufman both tied and broke a world bareback riding record score on back-to-back nights at the Texas Stampede in Dallas.

Minutes after the rodeo opened on Oct. 24 at the American Airlines Center, Stevenson tied a 28-year-old bareback bronc riding world record by turning in a score of 93 atop a rampaging bronc named Smokeless Bow Tie, owned by stock contractor Bob Barnes. Stevenson tied the record set by five-time world champion Joe Alexander, who scored 93 at the 1974 Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days Rodeo aboard Marlboro, owned the Beutler Brothers and Cervi.

But on the next night, he broke the world record by turning in a 94 aboard Cover Girl, owned by the Kesler Rodeo Co.

He now shares the record with three-time world champion Will Lowe of Canyon who is Stevenson’s traveling partner. Lowe turned in a 94 aboard Kesler’s Sky Reach Dip in 2003 at Omaha, Neb.

Stevenson, a former National Finals Rodeo qualifier, reflected on the two rides in a Prorodeo Sports News feature story. It is the cover story of the June 6 issue.

Stace Smith update

A bronc named Walking Tall, owned by Stace Smith, helped Brandon Holmes win the bareback riding title with a score of 81 on June 9 at the 10th annual Canton Stampede Rodeo in Canton. A bareback bronc named Dusty Trails, owned by the Smith, Harper and Morgan Rodeo Co., helped Evan Jayne (a Huntsville resident) finish second with an 80. Smith is scheduled to provide the stock at the Coleman PRCA Rodeo, which runs June 14-16 in Coleman. Smith provided stock at the 2007 Walker County Fair and Rodeo in Huntsville.

PBR update

Brazil won the PBR World Cup title in Gold Coast, Australia. Canada was second, followed by the U.S., Mexico and Australia. Defending PBR Built Ford Tough Series world champion Adriano Moraes, who lives near Tyler, was the captain of Brazil’s five-man team, which earned $100,000 after winning the title on June 10. Brazil will host the competition in 2008.

Like father, like son

Lane Hedeman, son of four-time world bull riding champion Tuff Hedeman, is competing in this week’s Texas High School Rodeo Association Finals in Abilene. Lane Hedeman, a Morgan Mill resident, won the boys all-around title in the association’s Region III.

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