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Eight Oklahomans headed to Las Vegas for rodeo finals

Eight Oklahomans will participate next month in the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
BY LINDSAY WHELCHEL Published: November 23, 2013
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But Melby is quick to credit Oklahoma for easing that burden. She moved here two years ago, and, given the state's prevalent rodeo culture, travel has been easier on her.

“The move to Oklahoma was great because at least the winter months I'm just gone on the weekends. We all rodeo and Oklahoma is way more easy to use for what we do,” Melby said.

Family also is important to team roper Travis Graves, of Jay. His father and grandfather team roped. This is his fifth time to qualify for the NFR, and now he has a family of his own.

The travel time required to make it to the top would not be possible for Graves if his wife and young son did not come with him on the road.

“They go with me pretty much all year. It makes it a lot easier, or I wouldn't enjoy it very much,” he said.

Team roping is clearly a responsibility for Graves.

“It's my job. It's how I feed my family, Graves said. “I work at it every day, just get up like it's a job. I just do whatever I can to get better. It's not like you can just show up to the rodeo and rope. When I'm home, I practice all the time.”

Another team roper, Kollin VonAhn, explained the challenge of finding a balance with his chosen career.

“It's hard to have relationships with family and everything else if you don't have the balance to it, but for me it's harder making sure I keep a balance than it is worrying about the roping side of it, because that's all my mind thinks about,” VonAhn said.

As the only bull rider in Oklahoma headed to the NFR, Trevor Kastner understands the danger involved.

“It would be like a NASCAR race. They don't want to see anybody get hurt, but if somebody gets hurt they don't want to miss it,” he said.

“I think inside of everybody, even if they don't know it yet, there's a part of everybody that wants to be a cowboy,” VonAhn said.