ALVA, Okla. – Riley Westhaver didn’t point to anything special he did this past weekend while winning the steer wrestling title at the Southeastern Oklahoma State University Rodeo in Durant.
No, Westhaver placed his credit on his partners: Steer wrestling horse Whiskers, owned by teammate Bridger Anderson, and hazer Brent Woodward. It may be something that just comes with rodeo, or it may be the humble personality he possesses.
“I had really good horsepower and was drawing the right steers, so it was just doing my job after that,” said Westhaver, a graduate student at Northwestern Oklahoma State University from High River, Alberta. “I was set up to win pretty good with what I was riding and what I drew.”
He was certainly consistent. He posted two 3.9-second runs, the first of which led to a tie for the first-round win and the latter securing the fastest time in the final round and the overall championship. In all, it was worth 175 points and pushed the Canadian to No. 2 in the Central Plains Region standings behind Anderson, a senior from Carrington, North Dakota.
“I think that reinforces the fact that Alva is a powerhouse in bulldogging,” Westhaver said. “We have a heck of a good coach, and we have a lot of bulldoggers around here to learn from.
“It’s hard to say the practices are tough. It’s such a good learning environment to be around those guys. When you’re around them, your attitude changes to go along with them. It raises you up to their level and helps you every step of the way.”
Every lesson learned is valuable, and Westhaver snagged a page out of the textbooks by jumping on Whiskers, which guided Anderson to his first National Finals Rodeo this past December and has guided cowboys to big wins in college and ProRodeo.
“Whiskers is just a very simple horse to ride,” he said. “You don’t have to think about anything other than your job. He puts you in a spot to win every time.
“When you have a Woodward hazing for you, you don’t have to worry about that either. That’s why I was set up so well to win.”
Several Northwestern bulldoggers made the weekend’s short round in Durant, and four scored points along the way. Anderson posted his fastest run, 4.2 seconds, to finish in a tie for second place the final round and finished in a tie for third overall. Bo Yaussi of Udall, Kansas, placed in both rounds and finished fifth, while Woodward earned first-round points with a fifth-place finish.
Team roping headers Wyatt VanOrsdol of Bristow, Oklahoma, and Kellan Allison of Waynoka, Oklahoma, added points for the Rangers. Roping with his heeler Mason Okke of Western Oklahoma State College, VanHorsdol placed fifth in the final round and sixth overall. Allison, roping with Hadley Sanders of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, earned a fifth-place finish in the long round.
Barrel racer Jaylinn Fausnaugh of Stoutsville, Ohio, gathered fifth-place points in the short round and finish tied for fifth overall to pace the Northwestern women.
While his goal is to remain among the top three in the region to qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo, Westhaver also has some team goals he’d like to see; only the top two teams in the final reginal standings advance to the CNFR in June.
“I’d love to make the college finals and the (ProRodeo) Prairie Circuit Finals and crack the top 50 (in the PRCA bulldogging standings) when the season ends,” he said. “As far as the teams go, we’ve got to get some things figured out before these next rodeos. I think we need to bear down, practice and get our heads right so we know w e can win. That’s what it takes to win at this level.”