XENIA — In front of a packed Greene County Fair grandstand, and with his friends and family cheering him on, a muddy and happy Tyler Saunders raised his hands in triumph and yelled.
“Yes! … I did it!” he screamed, moments after claiming the first calf in Sunday’s Greene County Fair Calf Scramble main event. Saunders had tried twice before and had some disheartening results each time.
“This means everything. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was three years old,” Saunders, now 17, said. “I’ve watched my uncles win it, I’ve watched my best friends win it. After the first one died … It’s hard to explain. You go out there and you can’t remember a thing. Pure adrenaline, that’s all it is.”
Two years ago, Saunders had captured his first calf in the Greene County Scramble main event. But days later when the family brought the calf home to their Jamestown farm, the cow had suffered twisted bowels and died shortly thereafter.
Last year, Saunders competed in the Calf Scramble and earned a broken rib, compressed chest and a trip to an ambulance for his efforts.
“I had him in the corner, but he got loose and messed me up pretty badly,” Saunders said of last year’s experience. “That was the end of it.”He went into Sunday’s event with a strategy. When the five contestants heard the County Fair queen ring a large cowbell, that was attached to a post, signalling the start of the event, Saunders was one of the competitors who held back and waited for one of the cows to break free from the competitors’ initial charge.
“With more competitors, it’s easier. But they’ll run them right down the grandstand side of the pen. Just wait. Your opportunity is gonna come. Don’t be gun shy. The first one you see coming at you, do what you can to get it. You ain’t gonna get one unless you get lucky,” Saunders said while peeling off his mud-soaked shirt.
Fellow Greeneview High School students Jack Randall and Austin Chaney also claimed calves in the evening’s main event. Main event contestants had to physically bring down their calf, loop a halter rope over the animal’s head, then pull with all their might until all four of the calf’s legs had stepped into a circle in the center of the pen.
The three final event winners were allowed to keep their calf, which they can then show at next year’s Greene County Fair. They’ll pick them up to take home on Saturday.
Cheyenne Jeffers, of Cedarville, said she had competed in the Calf Scramble a couple times before, but she didn’t have as intricate of a strategy conjured up when she went out and won the 12-13 year-old division event.
“I don’t know. I just went out there and grabbed the tag off the cow that I got to first,” she shrugged. “I just like running after them I guess.”
Winners in the 9-through-13 year-old divisions earned $20 as the first to claim a decal off the back of a young calf, $15 for the second decal, $10 for the third, and $5 for retrieving the final decal.
Nine-year-old Adam Cline pocketed $10 for his efforts in the first Calf Scramble event of the day. Wearing the same bright-orange T-shirt that his mom and friends wore, he said the Scramble was a lot of fun.
Was it hard?
“Nope! I just ran out there and grabbed the ticket. I don’t know what I’ll do with the $10 dollars … probably spend it at the fair,” he said.
Sunday’s Calf Scramble winners:
9 year olds — 1. Ben Lucas; 2. Gunnar Gannon; 3. Adam Cline; 4. Charlie Harlow.
10 year olds — 1. Grace Strickland; 2. Abigail Jamison; 3. Ciara Horney; 4. Masin Bowen.
11-12 year olds — 1. Camron Lacure; 2. Caleb Allen; 3. Conner Childers; 4. Jett Peck.
12-13 year olds — 1. Cheyenne Jeffers; 2. Wade Hutchison; 3. Taylor Stinson; 4. Jarret Brundege.
14-up — Tyler Saunders; Austin Chaney; Jack Randall.