College Coaches Hope To Lasso Conway

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The rodeo future of 17-year-old Rim country calf- and team-roper Kyle Conway might lay in the state of Texas.


Coaches at Odessa and Snyder Junior Colleges --a pair of powerhouses in the sport of rodeo -- are wooing Conway, hoping to acquire his services after he graduates from Payson High School with the class of 2000.


"They've offered to fly him to the schools for a visit and Odessa has offered him a full scholarship All he has to pay for is hay for his horse," Kyle's father, Bill, said.


Kyle says he's flattered by the attention offered him by the Texas schools, but he's going to keep his options open and not make a decision until probably next spring.


Despite his youth, Conway has long been an accomplished local roper, winning numerous junior rodeo championships and team roping jackpots.


Following Kyle's appearances late this summer in the International Finals Youth Rodeo in Shawnee, Okla. and the National High School Finals in Gillette, Wyo., college coaches began knocking on his door.


At the IFYR event, which is billed as the world's richest youth rodeo, Conway teamed up with Texas native Rodney Wilson in team roping.


With Wilson heading and Conway heeling, the pair finished second in the first round, winning $750. Their time was a respectable 6.9 seconds.


In the second round, the duo turned in the fastest team roping time of the rodeo, 5.7 seconds, and pocketed $1,160.


Their efforts propelled them to a top-15 finish and into the team roping finals, where they had the opportunity to win at least another $2,200.


With television cameras from the Outdoor Life cable network rolling, Wilson missed on his heading attempt, ending the team's hopes of a roping crown.


The misfire by his teammate, Conway said, was frustrating but is part of the sport of rodeo that all competitors learn to accept.


Following his Saturday evening appearance in the Shawnee finals, Conway was scheduled to check in Sunday morning at the high school championships in Gillette.


When a ride in a private Lear-type jet was offered to him and six other young cowboys also bound for the prep finals, Conway quickly accepted and was in Wyoming in only a matter of hours.


But there was no jet ride for his favorite ropin' horses, Bobcat and Pay Dirt. Kyle's father and his mother, Penny, drove all night pulling a horse trailer and camper through strong headwinds of the Midwestern plains, making a determined calvary-like charge to Wyoming.


The two arrived just in time for Kyle to mount up and begin his shot at a high school calf-roping crown.

"That was a long, tough trip," Bill Conway said.


Competing against about 150 fellow ropers who had qualified for the finals through state prep rodeo events, Kyle turned in a good showing in the second round, finishing sixth with a time of 9.9.


His performances in the early rounds qualified him for a berth in the finals, which pitted the top 15 ropers against one another. Roping two head in a total of 24.4 seconds, Conway eventually finished 15th overall.


His performances helped the 40-member Arizona rodeo team to a fourth-place finish behind national champion Texas, runner-up Utah and bronze medalist Colorado.


With the high school rodeo season at an end, Conway is slated for a respite from the sport in order to devote his attention to the Longhorn football program.


Gridiron practices began Monday morning with Conway in the hunt for a possible starting varsity quarterback slot. As defending state champions, the Horns will be battling for a second successive state crown.


Next December, when he turns 18, Conway will hang up his cleats for his first Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association permit.


Then, he'll begin what he hopes will be a successful college and pro rodeo career.

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