Draper finishes third at College National Finals Rodeo

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - JD Draper is a steer wrestler on the Mid-Plains Community College Rodeo team.

JD Draper (right) prepares to wrestle a steer at the MPCC Stampede last fall. Draper finished the collegiate rodeo season third in the nation. (Credit: MPCC Rodeo)

Draper is from Oakley, Kan., and has been roping since he was young.

"I just always wanted to be a cowboy and was always around livestock and cattle and enjoyed it. I tied my first goat at a rodeo when I was eight years old and I would always go to fun days when I was five or six, and I won my first junior looper team roping buckle, dummy roping in 2004 in Cheyenne, Wyoming," Draper said.

Draper started his college career in Cheyenne, but wasn't enjoying it, and his relationship with MPCC timed events coach Garrett Nokes brought him to Nebraska.

"I've known Garrett since I was little, and I started out school in Cheyenne, Wyoming, didn't really like it there, so I called Garrett, Garrett got me in there the second semester of my freshman year," Draper said.

Draper finished third in the steer roping at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo. earlier in the month. He says he felt confident heading out to Casper.

"I was confident in myself driving out there, and I knew I was going to do the best to my ability and whatever happened, happened. I can't control a draw or control that steer. I was just going to take what I had and do the best I could," Draper said.

Draper finished with a time of 20.2 seconds on three head, and all three of his runs were between 4.8 and 5.2 seconds.

"I just take it one steer at a time, know I have to score, ride, move his head, and finish him," Draper said of how he stays consistent from ride to ride.

Going into the third round, Draper knew he was towards the top of the pack, and knew he needed a solid run to stay there. He watched the competitors before him, and knew they had fast times.

"I knew I needed to make a good solid run, I just blocked all that stuff out and kind of did my own thing. I knew if I just went and knocked one down solid, didn't break a barrier, I was pretty promised third," Draper said.

While he was hoping to finish in first, he is not disappointed with his third place finish.

"We all go for first, we all want to win first, but I'm happy with third, I was tickled to death to win third" Draper said.

Draper plans on returning to MPCC next year, and will be putting work in, in the meantime.

"The one thing I'm going to work on, I need to try to get more fit, get in the gym, and just keep doing that. I kind of have an older horse, I don't practice off horse a lot, but I need to try to find a younger horse so I can run more cattle," Draper said.

Draper has many people to thank for helping him getting to where he is now.

"I just want to say thanks to everybody that's helped me get to where I've been, my coach, and my family," he said.