story by Lindsay King Third generation rodeo competitor 13-year-old Libby Berger from Udall, Kansas, has a need for speed. “Barrels or breakaway roping is my […]
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Meet the Members The Ast Family
story by Magie Downare-Nevius
The Ast family enters the CePRA in a quadruple threat. Dad, Cletus, 55, leads the pack and teams up with son, Casey, 32, in the team roping, where the pair are kicking Ast in their fifth year with the organization by taking an early position in the standings. Balancing the scales on the chick-side, Kylie, 13, and Laci, 12, are working their second-year membership by running with the big girls in the barrel racing. “Rodeo is a big family deal for us. It takes the whole crew to make things happen and we support each other as a group to make it as a team,” Cletus said. “I think that it would be fun to have the whole family make the finals and be able to participate together.”
Taking to the heels, Cletus started his rodeo trajectory when he was 12 years old in the calf and team roping and even tried his hand at the roughstock events. “I am the youngest of 14 kids and nobody in my family rodeoed. I bought my first horse, which was very green broke, and had some friends from high school that got me into it. Rodeo is what I wanted to do and once I got started, stopping wasn’t an option,” he said. While his talents have put him in membership with the United States Team Roping Championships (USTRC) and the Kansas Professional Rodeo Association (KPRA), his interest in operations extend to President of the Central Kansas Youth Rodeo Association (CKYRA), on the board of the Heartland Youth Rodeo Association (HYRA) and an event director with the Kansas Junior High School Rodeo Association (KJHSRA). “I enjoy helping the kids and these are great associations to get them started out in the sport,” Cletus said.
Cletus and his wife (Sherry), of 14 years, have handed the desire to rodeo down to their children, which expands on the CePRA. “Sherry currently rides with the family, but doesn’t compete, but is right in the midst of the team. She does everything she can to get us all down the road and supports us all every step of the way,” Cletus said. Their daughter (Taylor) is a former CePRA princess and rodeoed for five years, their son (Dusty) is a former CePRA and PRCA bull rider, son (Brandon) is a former member of the CommCollege rodeo team and while their daughter (Ashton) does not compete, her husband (Brian Peters) is a former CePRA and PRCA bull rider and now raises bucking bulls through the start of the Crowther family. “We all rodeo as a family. We have built a practice pen at home; complete with lights, speakers and timers to work together. It also gives the opportunity for additional families to join in,” Cletus said.
Nodding from the heading box, Casey’s ability in the arena also stretches to the bucking chutes, where he is a four-time CePRA Finals qualifier and a two-time saddle bronc riding champion (2006-2007). “I rode broncs for five to six years, but haven’t been on in a while. I had team roped back in high school [starting his freshman year], then jumped in with dad to rope over the winter,” he said. The former PRCA saddle bronc rider took to the roughstock end for a change in venue at the age of 21. “I looked like fun and was something different,” he said. While working as a construction mechanic in Wichita, Kans., Casey also farms and raises cattle in Conway Springs. “I would like to go, but it will depend on how the year goes to building on my farm,” Casey said. “My main concern is getting the girls going.”
Kylie and Laci both got their start in the CePRA through the Little Miss Princess pageant and are now members. “They were competing against the same girls at local races and hanging right in there, so we decided that since we were going they should too,” Cletus said. “They train their own barrel horses and get help from outsiders when they need to.”
Kylie started competing at 5 years old within the HYRA and has won numerous buckles and saddles. She extends her list of associations to the CKYRA and the KJHSRA as a multiple-event contestant and taking a current fifth place ranking in the all-around standings.
Laci started competing at 4 years old within the HYRA and has won several buckles of her own and a saddle when competing in the CePRA pageant. She, too, extends her list of associations to the CKYRA and the KJHSRA, where she is currently sitting eighth in the breakaway roping standings and in the top 20 of the ribbon roping and barrel racing. “Laci currently team ropes in the HYRA and CKYRA and will probably start team roping next year in the KJHSRA. I expect that she will go hard,” Cletus said.
Showing individual success throughout the Ast quartet roots back to the origin of support. “It’s not only about the rodeos. My mother was a great supporter and made me promise that a part of my inheritance be used to buy a trailer. I did as she requested and purchased a 40 footer, which the entire family contributed in putting our own living quarters in. It has all of the aspects as if it were factory built and we did it as a family, which just goes to show the team work that it takes for all of us to go,” Cletus said.