Caleb Meeks part of NRA’s Next Generation
By JOE KUSEK
July 24, 2020
Caleb Meeks has studied rodeo history, taught rodeo history and is now creating some of his own rodeo history.
The Geraldine teenager is part of the Northern Rodeo Association’s next generation of competitors. Young men and women with big dreams while honing their skills in an association that has produced its fair share of world champions and world-class competitors.
“The NRA gives you a really good start and you don’t have to break the bank,” said the 19-year-old saddle bronc rider, who completed his freshman year at Montana State University this past spring. He is majoring in agricultural business. “The NRA helps you learn the ropes of rodeoing, like scheduling and traveling.
“My goal is to be able make a living at rodeo.”
Meeks has already won twice this summer and used a terrific Fourth of July weekend to vault to the top of the NRA saddle bronc standings.
The highlight of his 2020 was a stellar 84-point ride aboard Little Ice, owned by the Red Eye Rodeo Company, to win Harlowton. The 84 points in the high-mark ride in the NRA this season.
“He was really good,” Meeks said. “He’s a horse you want to get on.”
Meeks also tied for second at Ennis the same weekend to pocket more than $1,700 for 16 seconds of work.
He added a win at Scobey last week with two solid rides.
“I’ve just been working at it. I kind of know what I am doing now,” Meeks said with soft chuckle of his saddle bronc riding. “And I’ve been drawing real well. That helps.”
Meeks will be competing in Eureka this weekend.
He is a 2019 graduate of Geraldine High School where he was a multi-sport athlete – football, basketball, track and field – and a 3.8 student in the class room.
Meeks was a three-time qualifier for the National High School Finals Rodeo and state reserve champion in 2018.
During his senior year, Meeks organized Western Heritage Day where the high school rodeo club taught elementary students the history of rodeo. They also had the kids use roping dummies and work the spur board.
“We created the club to get excused absences from school to attend high school rodeos,” he explained. “That event turned out pretty cool.”
And the students even helped the teacher.
“Working with those kids was a good reminder how simple it is,” said Meeks of rodeo. “The more simple you keep it, the easier it will be.”
When not competing, Meeks works on the family ranched owned by his parents Kraig and Raeann. The family raises cattle, wheat and hay. They also have a summer place for their cattle outside of Winifred.
He began riding bucking horses his freshman year of high school.
“I’ve always been around horses. I don’t know why I like it so much,” said Meeks. “I know its fun when everything is going right.”
Meeks credits a good portion of his success to a saddle he purchased this year from Tyrell Smith, a former National Finals Rodeo qualifier.
“I’m starting to put things together with my new saddle,” Meeks said. “It points my hips in the right direction and holds me when I want to spur out hard.”
This is Meeks third summer competing in the NRA. He finished 11th in the saddle bronc standings last year but got into the NRA Finals when Gavin Nelson withdrew because he had a football game for Wibaux High School.
Going into Eureka, Meeks has a lead of $481 over 2018 champion Andrew Evjene of Two Dot.
“I am having a blast,” he said of his season. “I haven’t been thinking about it (NRA Finals) yet. I’m just riding good and happy about it.”
With just a month of rodeos remaining after Eureka, each event takes on added importance in the standings.
Chase Redfield of Opheim became a three-time winner by taking the bareback competition at Scobey, while Poplar’s Amber Crowley won her second breakaway roping title. Kelly Murnion of Jordan won the bull riding with 86 points, the high mark ride of the year.
Standings races are tightening up with Hailey Garrison of Glen holding a scant $24 lead on Nancy Ward of Philipsburg in barrel racing. Less than $220 separate the top five.
In breakaway roping, Alicia Bird of Cut Bank is $118 head of Choteau’s Celie Salmond. Only $400 separates the top five in the fastest event of rodeo.