Montana’s Haven Meged competes at Junior Ironman in CINCH Timed Event Championship
The CINCH Timed Event Championship has been around longer than the newest invitees have been alive, since they added the Junior Ironman this year. The 32-year-old event invited 10 high school and college students from a roster of applicants.
Haven Meged, of Miles City, Montana, was one of the ten invited to the inaugural event hosted at the Lazy E in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Meged is in his first year of college at Western Oklahoma State College in Altus, Oklahoma.
Meged, a team roper and calf roper on his college rodeo team, was up to the challenge of competing in three rounds of heading, heeling, tie-down roping, and steer wrestling, with a payout of $20,000 to the winner of the Junior Ironman. Meged didn’t take home a paycheck this year, finishing in ninth place, but he’s hoping to have another shot. Bo Yaussi, from Udall, Kansas, won this year’s Junior Ironman.
“I’ve competed in other timed events in Montana, this one at the Lazy E was one of the biggest stages I have ever been on,” Meged said. “I want to, in a couple years, learn to steer trip and go back to that timed event and try to win the big one.”
While the event didn’t go as smoothly as Meged had hoped, he is encouraged to continue training for and competing in similar events.
“Haven is very talented as far as being able to do the events,” Paul Tierney, past CTEC champion, said. “In life, you just learn from failure. These kids need to learn, what can I do better and do to find the solution? That’s my encouragement to kids: learn from failure and don’t let failure make you a failure.”
Exposure to professionals like Paul Tierney is an added bonus of the Junior Ironman. Professional rodeo cowboys encouraging and teaching the youth competitors is not a requirement, however, many of them mingled all the same.
“It was an amazing experience for each of those young men. It was an honor for every kid that went,” said Misty Meged, Haven’s mother who attended the event with her husband Bart in support of their son. “It was pretty neat especially for all those kids being around those professionals, a lot of whom were around those kids and giving encouragement. Just letting those kids see that is a pretty big deal; they were at the top of the leaderboard and they still had time to help these kids.”
“It was pretty cool to be around the professionals. I was kind of long in the second round, and Trevor Brazile and Daniel Green came up to me and said, ‘Go out and just try to get everything knocked down.’ It just didn’t go how I wanted it to go, I guess,” Haven said.
Haven had a solid first round, placing second with a combined time of 48.1 seconds. His next round slowed to 74.8 and landed him third. From there, his weekend failed to pick up at the Junior Ironman. He headed to another college rodeo in between Junior Ironman rounds Saturday night and created success there.
“We left for Ft. Scott, Kansas, for a college rodeo — Haven is trying to get points to make it to the college finals — and I think that was too much. He ended up winning the round in tie down. We pulled into Guthrie at 3 a.m., back to hotel at 4, and up by 7 to get horses fed, exercised and ready to go,” Misty said. “To me I thought it was a little too much. Looking back, he might have not done that, but actually, he probably still would have. He likes the competition; he just goes and goes and goes.”
In the last round, when Haven was up in the heading in team roping, his heeler missed, giving him a 60-second time for the round. Then in tie-down roping, Haven broke out and his horse clipped the calf’s leg, resulting in the horse going over the top of the calf. Haven and his horse remained upright, however, due to quick thinking on the rider’s part.
“He’s such a good horseman; he just pitched his slack out to the side of the horse so the rope wouldn’t run between the horse’s legs, and he could have flipped,” Misty said. “Through it all, I think there were a lot of good lessons. He’s just got to get back up and keep going. Bart and I are very proud of him, and his hard work and dedication to rodeo.”
Haven had a cavvy made up of his own and others’ horses, one horse per event. A borrowed mare in particular captured his fancy.
“The bulldogging horse was from Copper Springs Ranch (read more about her here); Brian Anderson brought her down from Montana and brought a hazing horse down and hazed for me. I rode the bulldogging mare when they just started her in October. Now she’s the big talk around. You’ll see her at the finals in a few years, she’s pretty legit,” Haven said. “I’ve had my other two, the calf horse and heel horse for four or more years, and I just got my head horse not too long ago from Brett Fleming in Arizona.”
Haven said he appreciated the opportunity to compete in the Junior Ironman and the chance to see professionals competing at their best.
“It’s pretty cool to watch the top 20 hands go at it,” Haven said. “When it came down to the last round, it was really good watching. You can’t really back off in any of those situations, you’ve got 19 other guys coming after you.”
Jess Tierney, the winner of this year’s CTEC, accepted the rodeo coach position at Western Oklahoma State College not long after the competition, so he’ll be Haven’s rodeo coach next year. Meged has bumped elbows with the Tierney family before, attending clinics with Paul Tierney, Jess’s father, and purchasing a horse trained by Jess.
“It’s nice that the Lazy E is bringing up the kids in this event,” Jess said. “They’re a first-class bunch of people at Lazy E and they put on a great event, so to be able to include a younger generation shows the event has lots of room to get bigger and better.”