story by Lindsay Humphrey All it took was one ride on a live bull and Blake Huffman was hooked on rodeo. Previously he was a […]
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Meet the Member Bradley Ralph
story by Lily Weinacht
Bradley Ralph of Wann, Okla., started wrestling steers in sixth grade and finished fourth in the state during the 2016 KHSRA finals, but this final season of high school rodeo, he’s wrestled with an injury as stubborn as any steer. The 18 year old was helping a friend move cattle in June when he was bucked off, tearing his collar bone from his left shoulder. Since having surgery, he still has several weeks before he can move his arm from the sling, and another five months until a full recovery. Yet he still went on to the NHSFR to compete in the trap shooting with his right hand, finding he shoots just as well one-handed, and switching from his usual Benelli shotgun to a lighter, single shot.
Bradley is a three time KHSRA trap shooting champion and was the 2015 National Trap Shooting Reserve Champion. “I was shooting before I was seven, so it comes naturally,” he explains. “My dad rode bulls and bareback horses, and he got me started riding sheep and rodeoing. You make a lot of friends in rodeo, and it’s a difficult sport. Nothing ever goes the same every time! There’s always something new in rodeo, and you can win, but it’s not something you can ever be too good at. You can always get a faster time.”
Since he started chute dogging as a sixth grader, Bradley looks up to Doug Janke and world champion steer wrestler Stan Williams. “Stan taught me how to throw steers when I started out, and Doug hazed for me when I jumped my first steer at a rodeo,” Bradley recalls. “I’d never even practiced jumping a steer, and I entered a high school rodeo, caught my first steer, and won third. We’d just bought the horse I was riding the day before. Since then, Doug has taken me under his wing, and I want to give a huge thank you to him, my dad, and Scott and Nicole Dorenkamp for helping me.”
Along with the KHSRA, Bradley competes in the ACRA, and is attending Coffeyville Community College (CCC) in Kansas on a full-ride rodeo scholarship this fall. “The school is only a few minutes from my house, so I’ll be able to live at home and go to school,” Bradley explains. “I just helped my dad put up a new arena. We’ve never had one before, and before I’d just throw steers at home and practice at Doug’s. I usually steer wrestle on his horse, Profit, and use Zac for hazing. They have their own attitudes, and they can’t be pulled away from each other. I also do a little team roping on my horse Skip, and Tom is the first horse I ever steer wrestled off of. I’ll probably use one of my horses in college, and we’re always looking for others.”
Bradley also enjoys swimming – competing on a swim team for nine years before focusing on rodeo – as well as turkey hunting and spending time with his parents, Kenny and Lisa Ralph. He also has an older step-brother, Caleb Ralph. Bradley and his dad travelled to Nationals for the fourth time this summer, and he says, “I’m thankful for my dad hauling me everywhere, and everything he does for me.” One of his favorite events was The American steer wrestling qualifier in Natural Dam, Ark., which Bradley won in the 19 & Under in January. This year, he also made it to the short-go of Duvall’s Annual Steer Wrestling Jackpot in Checotah, Okla., dubbed the “Steer Wrestling Capital of the World”.
“My goal now is to make the College National Finals my freshman year in half as many rodeos once I can compete again,” Bradley finishes. “I’m steer wrestling good enough, and my coach, Johnny Weil, thinks we can get it done.”