Trimble, Hittle claim team roping win; Rangers earn men’s team victory
ALVA, Okla. – As youngsters, Jaden Trimble and Brandon Hittle grew up three hours apart but became close friends despite the miles.
“We’ve been best friends since the seventh grade,” said Trimble, a sophomore from Coffeyville, Kansas.
They chose the came college, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, and compete on the rodeo team. They just started roping together a few months ago, and it’s already paying off. The two Kansas cowboys won the Oklahoma Panhandle State University’s Doc Gardner Memorial Rodeo this past weekend in Guymon, Oklahoma, earning their first victory of the season.
In addition, Northwestern earned its first men’s team title of the season. It’s a good time to get on a roll, with only the final rodeo of the Central Plains Region standings left this coming weekend in Colby, Kansas.
“This was a special one,” said Hittle, a sophomore from Harveyville, Kansas, just outside of the state’s capital in Topeka. “I’d say it’s the most unique rodeo out of all of them that we compete at because of the muleys. They’re dead fresh, and everyone gets a fresh one.
“It’s more of a challenge. You never know what to expect (as a heeler) on the back end of them. Your header can make or break you.”
Muleys are hornless cattle, and team ropers typically rope Corriente steers. The best heading catch is slick around the horns, which makes the cattle easier to handle. That’s not possible with muleys, so the headers must catch with a neck loop, which adds to the degree of difficulty. The header also wants the animal to make a smooth transition during the turn, which helps the heeler secure his catch – hopefully of two hind legs.
Throw in the fact that none of the cattle in Guymon had ever been roped before, and there was something even more challenging for the ropers.
“You didn’t know what to expect,” Trimble said. “Luckily we drew a really good steer in the first round, and Brandon got a good heel catch on him.”
Both cowboys grew up as headers, and Hittle made the switch to the heel end last summer.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to head or heel at the college rodeos,” he said. “Then Jaden and I decided to rope together, so that made it easy for me to choose heeling. I love it. It’s a blast.”
Trimble and Hittle were second in both rounds with runs of 7.2 and 8.9. Their cumulative time on two runs was what got them the victory. They weren’t the only winners, though; they were joined by steer wrestler Riley Westhaver of High River, Albert, who claimed another title and clinched his region championship.
Fellow bulldogger Wacey Dorenkamp of Bristol, Colorado, placed in both rounds and finished fourth overall, while Bridger Anderson of Carrington, North Dakota, finished tied for second in the opening round and sixth overall.
Tie-down roper Bo Yaussi of Udall, Kansas, moved to third place in the region standings after his second-place finish in Guymon – he finished second in both rounds and the aggregate. Denton Oestman of Auburn, Nebraska, placed in both rounds and finished sixth.
Northwestern header Tucker Huffman of Mutual, Oklahoma, won the opening round before being saddled with a no-time in the championship round. He still finished fifth overall in a tough roping. The Rangers brotherly team of Reed Murray and Rhett Murray of Belvue, Kansas, finished fourth in the first go-round to collect points.
Lindy Munsell of Arnett, Oklahoma, paved the way for the Northwestern women, placing fifth in both rounds and the average.
As most of the competitors have learned, having the right horsepower can make all the difference in the world. When his good horse suffered an injury, Trimble reached for a replacement in Cowboy, an 8-year-old gelding that Trimble trained himself.
“I was a junior when I bought him,” he said. “He was real green, but I got to where I started hauling him my senior year in high school. He sure did the job in Guymon.”
Hittle relied on Moses, a 13-year-old gelding he’s had for eight years. Hittle roped calves on Moses in high school, then switched him to heeling. For his measure, the success in the Oklahoma Panhandle was due to Trimble’s talent.
“We drew well, but my header being able to handle the cattle was the biggest reason we won,” he said. “There were a lot of heelers that didn’t get good looks, because the header wasn’t able to do a good job on the handle. Jaden handled those steers good.”