Meged’s Moment: Young Montana cowboy stays hot on the rodeo trail, hoping for a win at the American
Haven Meged’s debut at The American next month won’t be the first time a student from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, has competed. In fact, Richmond Champion, a junior at TSU at the time, won the entire $1,000,000 purse in bareback riding at the inaugural event in 2014.
Tarleton alum Reese Reimer also earned a share of the pot three years later, taking home $600,000 in tie-down roping. All three of these TSU athletes have been coached by Mark Eakin, who has hung his hat at TSU for eleven years and was at West Texas A&M for nine years prior.
Meged qualified for the semifinals of The American at two separate American qualifier jackpots this winter, Alvarado and Lipan, both in Texas, giving him the chance to compete twice against more than 120 other tie-down ropers, some of whom will also compete twice depending on their respective qualifications.
Semifinal competitors will vie to return to the top 20, then to the top 5 to join the 10 PRCA leaders—already qualified in their individual events—at the short round of The American March 2 and 3.
While the stakes are higher for winning The American, including a $50,000 purse up for grabs for the top 20 in the semifinals, for Meged, this is just another rodeo in a spring stocked full of them and a winter already spent on the road.
“This rodeo counts toward world standings, so whoever wins that has a real good shot at the NFR,” Haven said. “It’s a heck of a win, $50,000.”
Just this month, he and his traveling partners have been to Jackson, Mississippi, Rapid City; Fort Worth, Texas; Tuscan, Arizona; and San Antonio, Texas. The Miles City, Montana, cowboy—sitting 19th in the world with just shy of $10,000 from his efforts so far this year, though that doesn’t count Meged’s $10,000 in earnings in San Antonio earlier this week—doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon, except for May, that is.
“The whole month of May, I don’t go anywhere. I’ll brand and help my parents with the bucking horse sale, and at the first of June, I’ll take off,” he said. Bart and Misty, Haven’s parents, own and operate Miles City Livestock Commission and own a ranch that Haven hopes to return to and run, once he completes his animal industries and agencies degrees and competes in a few National Finals Rodeos, which is the big goal this year.
“I hope to get rookie of the year at nationals finals and get back to college finals,” Haven said. “I’m sitting good in college rodeo, and hopefully have a good spring.”
Haven has spent more days in the saddle at rodeos than he has the classroom, but that doesn’t mean his grades suffer. His dad makes sure they don’t, but Haven himself doesn’t settle for bad grades. “My lowest is a 92,” he said.
While most people complain about Mondays, Haven uses the first day of the week to get to class and get caught up academically. His professors have been willing to work with him in his absence, giving him the chance and responsibility to balance getting a bachelors degree, competing successfully in the college circuit in both team roping and tie-down roping, and holding his own professionally as well.
Haven transferred this fall to TSU from Western Oklahoma State College in Altus, a two-year college, where he was coached by Jess Tierney, originally from South Dakota. In his sophomore year, Haven won the regional tie-down roping title and earned fifth overall nationally.
Since making the move to Texas, NFR qualifier Jake Pratt, Haven’s roommate, training pal, competitor, and traveling partner, has been a large driving force for Haven’s professional career.
“Jake is always there to help you; he’ll pick you up and help you with whatever you need,” Haven said. “They’re pulling for you as much as you’re pulling for them. We all want to win first, but at the end of the day, we’re buds.”
Competing at The American won’t be Haven’s first interaction with some of the elite rodeo athletes. His first shot at the big stage was in 2017 at the inaugural Cinch Timed Event Championship Junior Ironman, where Haven got encouragement from 24-time world champion Trevor Brazile. The one thing that Meged has in common with most or all of these rodeo athletes is ambition.
“He is very driven. I would not expect anything less than to see him at the NFR this year. He’s a step above everybody, in my opinion, and you can see that in how hard he works,” Eakin said. “Haven es one of the most talented, self driven, and focused athletes that I have coached in 20 years.”
On top of working hard to be extremely competitive at his sport, Haven also does the legwork training his own horses, and he is more concerned with the horse itself and less concerned about the names on registration papers.
A black gelding that Haven calls Jaysnic got his start as a reiner until Haven bought him three years ago as a six-year-old.
“I like to buy them when they’re a little younger, then I can get them to how I want them. I tied on him last winter for the first time, something just clicked, and that’s when he got it,” Haven said. “If I’m looking for a prospect, I look at the horse, not the papers.”
A black mare by the name of Beyonce, that he purchased off a facebook ad, is Haven’s back-up for the semifinals.