story by Lindsay Humphrey “I’m not much of a planner,” said Ryan Bestol of his storied rodeo career so far. “When I get something in […]
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Meet the Member Randy Mekelburg
story by Lily Weinacht
Randy Mekelburg, the steer roping director for the NSRA, grew up alongside the sport of rodeo as he ranched and farmed with his dad. The 57 year old from Yuma, Colo., has watched one event in particular go through numerous changes. Steer roping, one of the NSRA’s official events since the association’s founding four years ago, is gaining popularity in the region. “I think steer roping is growing,” says Randy. “We have 45 – 100 steer ropers entering our rodeos, and it’s getting bigger than some of our other events. I’m hoping it will grow even more since we’ll have three headers this year instead of two. We’ve added steer roping to our PRCA rodeo in Yuma as well. Finding the cattle is what’s hard. So many of the cattle aren’t being bred for Corriente bulls anymore.”
This is Randy’s second year as the NSRA’s steer roping director, but he has been competing in the event since the mid 1980s. “Being the director has taught me how to work with people. I get to see the ins and outs of people, what’s on their mind, and what I can do for them. I love competing, and the friends you meet every day, or meeting someone new!”
In addition to the NSRA, Randy has been competing on the PRCA Mountain States Circuit since 1982. In 1986 he won the team roping at the Prairie Circuit Finals, and last year, won the steer roping at the Mountain States Circuit Finals, along with second in the steer roping at Cheyenne Frontier Days, where he pocketed a check for $10,000 after his annual trip to the Daddy of ‘em All.
Randy and his wife of 32 years, Teri, make their home a few miles outside of Yuma. Their daughters, Paige and Kali, son-in-law, Edgar, and granddaughter, Jema Rose, make frequent visits and spend many a summer evening watching Randy compete. Teri rodeoed through high school and college, and team roped with Randy until they started their family. Randy, a heeler, now ropes with anyone who needs a partner, and practices several times a week on his own or with friends around the area. These include two of his friends, JC Jenson and Stuart Allen. “I’d like to thank those two guys, because they’ve helped me a lot,” Randy explains. “When I started steer roping, they taught me the ins and outs.”
An electrician for the last ten years, Randy also helps the ranchers in his area with branding and working cattle, including his brother, who runs about 600 head. Randy’s main horse, Hitch, was started as a ranch horse before Randy finished him for rodeo. “Hitch is really strong and really fast – he almost ran over our steer in Cheyenne last year!” says Randy. “I just got an old horse I call Old Timer – he’s 18 and something I can get on for practice, plus I’m starting a seven-year-old for heeling. A lot of good guys around here have helped me out and taught me how to start horses right.”
Taking a very brief break from a rodeo, Randy and Teri went on vacation to Costa Rica earlier this year, but rodeo is Randy’s weekly vacation. Several of his favorite NSRA rodeos include Arthur, Neb., Hyannis, Neb., and Ogallala, Neb. “I enjoy the people there – all the guys who have quit steer roping come out to watch.”
Randy’s primary goal for the year is to qualify for the 2016 National Circuit Finals as he continues to support rodeo and his passion for steer roping in his corner of the world.