ND’s Morman headed to NFR
When he was young, Cameron Morman watched old Wrangler National Finals Rodeo tapes with his grandpa.
Now, two decades later, he’ll be competing at the pinnacle of pro rodeo next month.
The 26 year old cowboy from Glen Ullin, N.D., enters the WNFR in fourteenth place in the steer wrestling.
He began roping as a youngster, with the help of a neighbor, Joel Olson. Then, in junior high rodeo, Darrin Schwagler, the father of his team roping partner, Teddi, suggested he chute dog for all-around points. He had some luck, qualifying for the National Junior High Finals and ending up in the top ten at Nationals.
Olson’s daughter and son-in-law, Tyler and Jackie Schau, moved from Iowa back to North Dakota, and Tyler, also a steer wrestler, helped Morman as well. With Tyler’s help, Morman jumped two steers before his first high school rodeo. At the first rodeo, he won fifth on the first day and second on the second day. “I was hooked,” he said. “From that day, I knew it was something I was going to keep working at.”
He graduated from Glen Ullin High School in 2012 then went on to Dickinson (N.D.) State University, winning his region three times (2014-2016) and qualifying for the College National Finals Rodeo three times. Morman graduated from college in 2016 with a degree in university studies.
In college rodeo, he learned more of the mental game of rodeo. His rodeo coach, Eudell Larsen, was a big help. “He taught me how to win, and how to deal with your mind.”
He continued to rodeo in the North Dakota Rodeo Association, winning it twice (2014-15).
Through high school and college, Morman rodeoed on Hank, a horse he had started and that he owned, and his haze horse was one that Joel Olson owned. In 2016, he sold Hank and bought a green horse that didn’t work out, so for his last year at the CNFR, he borrowed Hank to ride him.
Through part of college, Morman also rode Scooter, the 2018 AQHA Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year, which at the time, was owned by Jason Reiss of North Dakota.
He has pro rodeoed ever since he got his permit seven years ago, qualifying for the RAM Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo six times (2014-2019), winning the average this year and last, and winning the year-end title in ’15 and ’18. In 2017, he rodeoed with Chason Floyd, Kody Woodward and Taz Olson, winning $45,000 for the year, which qualified him to enter the big winter shows. At that point, he decided to rodeo full time.
Last year was another good year; he finished the year in eighteenth place in the world.
This year, it all came together. He won the 2018 year end for the Badlands circuit, which qualified him for the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo, where he won $18,000. “Shoot, I had quite a bit of money won after the winter. I thought, this was going to be easy.”
Through the early part of the spring and summer, Morman kept having big wins, including Reno, where he finished tied for third in the average and took home more than $7,800. After Cowboy Christmas, he didn’t have any big wins. “I never had a $10,000 week,” he said, but “I stayed consistent and kept plucking along. I never had big wins but I was winning.”
Consistency was the key for Morman, because there are plenty of highs and lows on the rodeo road “It’s not easy to win,” he said. “You win some and you lose some.” Cole Edge, a friend and a former traveling partner, gave him good advice. “He helped me out when I wasn’t winning. He helped me keep my head up, keeping my foot on the gas, and going to the next rodeo.”
“Shoot, after Kissimmee (his win at the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo), I thought there’d never be another poor day,” he said. “There’s a pattern in rodeo. When you’re hot, it’s easy to win, and when you’re not, it’s really tough to win. I’ve gotten to see both sides of that this year.”
His mount since 2018 and for the WNFR is Rio, a horse he purchased from Jake Rinehart. Rio, a fourteen year-old buckskin gelding, is the two-time Badlands Circuit Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year. Morman had ridden him six times before he purchased him. “Every time I rode him I won money,” he said. “He was easy, he can run, he scores good, and has a good pattern.” He knew the horse was worth buying. “I thought, if I’m going to (make the WNFR), I’m going to own my own horse. Buying Rio was the best thing I ever did.”
The horse has a laidback personality. “He’s very mellow and easy going. You’d never guess, backing into the box, that he will run. He’s been the best change of pace I’ve had. I’m pretty fortunate to get to own him.”
This year, Morman traveled with Sterling Lambert, Taz Olson and Jake Kraupie, with Lambert and Kraupie hazing for him. He enjoyed the travel. “These guys made this year an absolute blast,” he said. Lambert will haze for him at the WNFR.
He has no special workout regimen for the WNFR. In high school, when he and his brothers would talk about going to the weight room, his dad, Bruce, would say, “there are thirty buckets of grain I carry every day. If you want to carry some of them, that’s your workout.” They did farm chores as their exercise. “Our parents milked cows. We were always throwing square bales around.”
Morman has a great support team behind him. Even though his family didn’t rodeo, they still help out. “When I started doing this, it was foreign to them. They’ve had my back. My dad’s one of my biggest fans, really.”
His girlfriend, Teddi Schwagler, is also a big help. She keeps his horses in shape when he’s home and helping on the farm, and drives backup horses to wherever he might need them. In junior high rodeo, they team roped together, but in high school Morman found a different partner. “I dumped her in high school, and she hated me,” Morman said, “and now we’re dating.” It was her dad, Darrin, who is deceased, who helped Morman get started with chute dogging.
Morman has the best of both worlds: rodeo and ranching. He and his dad run 150 head of cows. “I’m the luckiest guy in the world. I rodeo and have cows, but I’m not around to do hardly any of the work,” he said. “My brothers, my uncle and my dad take care of me one hundred percent. Even my mom, Nancy, and my sister, Kelsy, help me. I’m really fortunate.”