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On the Trail with Jace Melvin
Written by: Siri Stevens< Back to Articles
The 2015 PRCA Resistol Rookie All Around, Jace Melvin, was born and raised in Fort Pierre, SD. He moved to Texas for college, and now claims the road as his home. “I rope calves, team rope, and steer wrestle, but not everywhere because of scheduling conflicts; getting up in three events is tough.”
The 23-year-old has been involved in rodeo his entire life, with three generations on his mom’s side, four on his dad’s before him. “I have two older sisters, Jessica (12 years older) and Jenny (10 years older); they were rodeoing a lot in the youth rodeos, National Little Britches and high school, so I went everywhere with them. They taught me most of what I know.”
His parents, Mark and Diana, rodeoed and now they run stocker yearlings and raise quarter horses. “Some of the horses that I compete on are some that we have raised and with my brother-in-law’s (Brent Belkham) help, I’m hauling them.” Another brother-in-law, Cody Moore, won Rookie of the Year Steer Wrestling, riding the family horse, Talk, in 2010. That horse, Talk, was critical to Jace’s success as well. “I was blessed with a phenomenal horse in high school and college – horse power has such a huge part in rodeo.” Cowboys Talk helped Jace make it to the National High School Finals all four years (2008-2011) in the steer wrestling and the college finals the past two years in the steer wrestling. Jace also qualifed for the college finals in calf roping in 2015. “Talk is old now – 19, but I had him as I was growing up. He’s got an awesome personality – he’s a character … he’s always talking.”
His dad, Mark, raised the horse on the race track, and Mark’s sister, Lorita Crowford, picked him and futuritied him as a barrel horse. “He was a great barrel horse, and my sister took him and raced barrels at the college rodeos. You can tie down, team rope, and it came time I started chute dogging and needed a bull dogging horse and he was as broke as it gets and was amazingly fast. Se we tried him as a steer wrestling horse. For as awesome as a barrel horse he was for my aunt and my sister, he was an extremely phenomenal bulldogging horse. He truly loved the steer wrestling.” Jace enjoys calf roping the best, but admits his strength lies in steer wrestling. “I really dedicate at all three events, but I see my most success in the steer wrestling. At a younger age I focused on it more.” His hard work and ingrained family competitive nature paid off when Jace won All Around at the National Junior High Finals in Gallup, NM, in 2007, as well as ended up third in the nation in steer wrestling his junior year and reserve his senior year of high school. “The nature of our family is extremely competitive,” he explains. “We could turn fixing fence into a competition. That goes for all of my family. Through that nature, I won the National Junior High All Around as an eighth grader. I went there to win first in every single event. Everything we do, we go with the intention of winning first and being successful. Being competitors, we know that losing is part of winning. If you don’t win something you learn something. I’ve learned that, and through God’s hand in it, things have fallen into place.”
After high school, Jace went to college at Vernon for two years and spent the last two years completing his Bachelors in Ag Business at Tarleton, rodeoing with the team that won the Men’s National Championship last year. His degree is coming in handy as he builds his business supplying timed event cattle for several youth and amateur rodeos around his hometown in South Dakota. Melvin Timed Event Cattle happened quite by accident.
“I had bought 30 head of roping calves when I was a junior in high school. I had planned to train horses on those calves, but I blew my knee wrestling for the high school team, so I couldn’t. A stock contracting company called me and had heard I had these calves and they needed timed event cattle for a Little Britches rodeo and I said yes and hauled those calves to that rodeo.” Growing up in rodeo, Jace knew how important it was for kids starting out and making their goals of the finals to have the best quality stock possible. “My junior and senior year I supplied the timed event cattle at our high school finals,” he said. “I haven’t done a perfect job, but I have a vested interest and sincerely care about the stock these kids get. I know that there is always going to be a bad draw, but to the best of my ability I’m trying to make sure the cattle are even.” The addition of the business is good for the ranch too. “Turning roping calves into feeder calves has been a perfect addition to the ranch.” He admits the business is expensive, hard work, but he plans to continue with it as well as his own career in rodeo. “This past summer I was gone rodeoing and my mom and dad helped me manage the contracts. I was setting up truck drivers and coordinating the events. I can sit and watch the entire slack and pay attention to the details because I’ve trained myself to do that. We mostly put together cattle in the spring, keep over our light end, and keep over team roping and bulldogging steers to reuse at the early rodeos wherever they will fit.”
Winning the All Around Resistol Rookie award was a goal Jace had set for himself. “It is an unbelievable accomplishment to get there – the trials and tribulations of trying to win this award and then when I won it, it really meant something. I had a really good year in the steer wrestling, but not so good in the team roping and calf roping. I won money, but scheduling and traveling and keeping horses in the trailer was difficult, but in the end it all worked out.” Jace hauls four or five horses at all times. “I travel with my two brother-in-laws and we have to have horses for team roping, hazing, steer wrestling, and calf roping. We’ll share horses and the horses will do more than one thing.”
Resistol has sponsored the Resistol Rookie awards since the late 70’s and for the first time, they added an awards banquet, along with other prizes, to the event. “I am unbelievably grateful for everything they did for us and how we were treated. Resistol offered us all a sponsorship package that was awesome,” said Jace. “For a lot of us going down the road, our biggest sponsors are our mom and dad and knowing that a company that sponsors the best in the world would sponsor us was amazing. Joining their team is an unbelievable opportunity – everything they did was great.” The 2015 Resistol Rookie recipients received two all-expense paid trips to the WNFR, Cactus saddles, coats, shirts and hats for the year.
Now it’s time to look ahead to 2016, and Jace’s number one goal this year is to make it to the WNFR in the steer wrestling. “My next goal would be to qualify for the circuit Finals in the steer wrestling and calf roping. It’s hard to get the rodeo count in that many events. If you were just circuit rodeoing, it would be a little less difficult, but when you’re trying to get to the bigger and better rodeos, it’s hard to schedule it.” He is spending part of January practicing in Texas, then he’s up in Odessa in the calf roping and steer wrestling, heads to Louisiana, back to Denver in the steer wrestling and team roping, then to Rapid City for all three events. “The month of February – I look at the Sports News every day for a few hours to figure out my schedule – that month is really busy.” Coming off last year, Jace is confident about his skills. “I really feel good going into spring and every chance I get, I’m going to get in the practice pen and keep my confidence level up and go for first and see where it all shakes out. I’m looking forward and I’m ready to get started.”