CHARTERS Towers cowboy Tate Van Wel has won at three of his past five rodeos and is one of the favourites in steer wrestling going into the Northern Run.
The 22-year-old is originally from Townsville but likes living in a small country town.
He started as a bull rider, then competed in saddle bronc before he found steer wrestling.
"There are plenty of practice opportunities at Charters Towers," Van Wel said.
He only competes in steer wrestling "as I want to master one event".
"Every hour practising another event would mean I am not practising steer wrestling," he said.
He practises a couple of days a week at the property of close mate Mark Gibb at Charters Towers.
In his past five rodeos, he won the steer wrestling on both Saturday and Sunday at Bowen Rivers and split first at Nebo.
"The biggest win of my career was when I was timed at 3.55 seconds and split first with good mate Luke Holmes, of Collinsville, at Nebo," he said.
He and his mates aren't afraid to take on a long trip. In March, he jumped in a car with fellow steer wrester Brad Alloway and saddle bronc rider Brad Rolley on a 6500km round trip for the Tri Series rodeos in Victoria.
Van Wel started with a fourth at Kyabram on the Friday, won Merrijig on the Saturday and was third at Chiltern on the Sunday.
The placings down south moved him up to second in the Australian Professional Rodeo Association steer wrestling standings.
He has retired his mare Peach and is looking to buy a new steer wrestling horse.
In the meantime, Alloway, Gibb and Emerald cowboy Shane Kenny have helped him out with horses. He likes riding Curio, a horse owned by Alloway.
Van Wel is gearing up for the final three weekends of the Northern Run when he will compete at Richmond, Hughenden, Cloncurry and Mt Isa.
He competed in steer wrestling in front of a massive crowd on the Saturday night of Mt Isa last year to record a fifth in the round.
"We will get to Mt Isa a couple of days before the rodeo to lap up the atmosphere," he said.
"While in Hughenden, we will stay with Clancy Middleton who is a mentor for us in steer wrestling."
Sitting second on APRA standings, van Wel is almost certain to qualify for the Warwick National Finals Rodeo on October 24-27.
"I don't just want to go to Warwick to make up the numbers, I want to shake up the competition," he said.
While the first rodeo of the Northern Run at Emerald was run in late June, the next rodeo on the run is at Taroom on July 20. The Northern Run ends at Mt Isa on August 8-11.
July 20: Taroom Rodeo
July 27: Richmond Rodeo
July 28: Hughenden Flinders River Timed Event Rodeo
August 2: Cloncurry Xtreme Bulls Rodeo
August 2: Cloncurry Junior Rodeo
August 2-3: Cloncurry Rodeo
August 8-11: Mt Isa Rodeo