ALVA, Okla. – Jayden Laubhan has already earned his degree from Northwestern Oklahoma State University.
He just wasn’t done being part of the rodeo team. It’s a good thing, too. The heeler from Follett, Texas, is hoping to cash in on another year in Alva by earning a bid to the College National Finals Rodeo, and he’s making up the ground necessary to do it.
He and his header, Wyatt VanOrsdol of Bristow, Oklahoma, roped solidly this past weekend to finish second overall at the Garden City (Kansas) Community College rodeo. They stopped the clock in 7.7 seconds to finish fifth in the opening round, then were 7.3 in the championship round to finish second in the short-go.
“This is my COVID year,” Laubhan said, noting that all intercollegiate athletes received an extra year of eligibility in 2020 when the season was cut short by the pandemic. “I’m just taking some classes so I can rodeo.”
He and VanOrsdol teamed earlier this semester, and they had found limited success in the first two rodeos. They placed in the first round and aggregate three weeks ago in Fort Scott, Kansas, then stepped it up when they moved to western Kansas over the weekend.
“It was nice to do some good in the short round with Wyatt,” Laubhaun said. “We didn’t have much luck at Fort Scott. I didn’t do my job, and we got a no-time in the short round. It was nice to come back and have the same opportunity in Garden City and be able to capitalize on it.”
With the 120 points each cowboy gathered, it should move Laubhan up to the top five in the Central Plains Region standings. Only the top three in each event advance out of the region to the college finals.
“I didn’t really have any success last fall with a different partner, so it was nice to team up with Jayden,” VanOrsdol said. “My thought is if I could turn two steers good for Jayden and get him moved up in the standings and maybe get him to the college finals, we’ll see where I finish up from there.
“When we got to Garden City, I figured if we’d go catch two steers, we’d place. I didn’t think we’d end up as good as we did, but we’ll take it. It feels good because we have three rodeos left. He’s right there amongst the leaders, and I’m one rodeo out from being amongst them, too. It gives us both a shot.”
VanOrsdol and Laubhan led the way for the Rangers ropers in western Kansas. Fellow team ropers Camden Hoelting of Olpe, Kansas, and Austin Lampe of Dodge City, Kansas, placed in the long round but didn’t secure a time in the final round.
Steer wrestling has always been a strong suit for Northwestern, known as the Bulldogging Capital of College Rodeo. The Rangers proved it, with champion Ben Jackson of Hudson Hope, British Columbia. He won the first round, finished third in the championship round and won the aggregate. Lee Sterling of Gotebo, Oklahoma, placed in both the short round and the aggregate, finishing fifth overall. Beau Kelley of Artesia, New Mexico, placed fifth in the opening round.
For the women, Cedar Anderson of Carrington, North Dakota, roped her first-round calf in 2.3 seconds to finish fifth. She wasn’t able to secure a time in the final round.
Laubhan and VanOrsdol found success through the simplest of methods, and they plan to keep it up.
“I really enjoy roping with Wyatt,” the Texan said. “He’s really good at communicating, and that’s what I like. There’s no question about what he’s going to do, because we always talk about it before we do it, and he’s always looking to get better.”
VanOrsdol is looking forward to the final three events of the season, primarily because the rodeos in Weatherford, Oklahoma; Hays, Kansas; and Guymon, Oklahoma, will all be outside. It’s something that fits the tandem’s style a little more, but he’s pretty tickled they had such success at the last indoor rodeo of the campaign this past weekend.
“I didn’t think it was that tough in that building,” he said. “The steers were real good, but they were all fresher (meaning they hadn’t be run as much). Some ran a little more, but that’s part of it. Some guys got in a hurry because of the small arena. We made both of our runs at the back end of that arena.
“I just tried to stay comfortable and not worry about where we were in the arena. I knew if we made clean runs, we’d be pretty good.”