ALVA, Okla. – Dylan Schulenberg is more than a college student.
A junior at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, he also is a student of the game. A team roping header from Coal Valley, Ill., he put his studies to the test this past weekend and passed; he and his heeler, Wyatt Miller, roped two steers in a cumulative time of 15.2 seconds to win the title at the Southeastern Oklahoma State University rodeo in Durant.
“We’ve been working a lot, and we mapped out a plan of what we wanted to do,” Schulenberg said. “We knew the steers, so we made a plan for each steer that we drew.”
The two stopped the clock in 8.0 seconds to finish sixth in the opening round, then posted the fastest time of the rodeo with a 7.2-second run in the championship round.
“Coming into the short round, we knew we had a decent steer,” said Schulenberg, who transferred this year to Northwestern from Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College. “I tried to set that steer up for him to the best of my ability.”
The tandem first began roping together last year at Fort Scott. While Miller is a sophomore there now, they still compete in the Central Plains Region together.
“We actually spent the whole last year trying to get each other figured out,” Schulenberg said. “We were trying to understand how we like the steer set up. Now we know how we need to conduct our jobs. He hazes them how I like them, and I try to handle them the way he likes to heel them.”
With the victory in Durant, Schulenberg moved up to fifth in the region standings. More importantly, it provided him with the confidence to battle toward his goal – advancing to the College National Finals Rodeo.
“This helps our confidence a lot,” he said. “Coming out of the first rodeo, we had a little trouble. We just tried to get back to what we know how to do.
“Both of our horses worked pretty good. I tried to prepare the best I could and prepare my horses and go on with it.”
It worked, but Schulenberg wasn’t the only Northwestern cowboy to have success in Durant. He was joined in the short round by Tanner Nall, a heeler from Colcord, Okla., who finished fifth.
The biggest success of the weekend came from a crew of steer wrestlers. Reigning college champion J.D. Struxness of Appleton, Minn., blistered a 3.9-second run in the final round to claim the bulldogging title, while Colten Madison of Whiting, Iowa, placed third and Grayson Allred of Kanarraville, Utah, was fifth.
Struxness, who sits third in ProRodeo and is heading to the National Finals Rodeo in December, finished in a two-run cumulative time of 10.0 seconds, three-tenths of a second faster than the runner-up.
All-around cowgirl Tearnee Nelson of Faith, S.D., paced the Rangers women by earning points in both goat-tying and breakaway roping. Nelson won the final round in breakaway roping with a 3.6-second run and finished second overall with a two-run cumulative time of 7.4 seconds. She also placed in the opening round of goat-tying.
Breakaway Ashlyn Moeder of Oakley, Kan., was 3.2 seconds to finish sixth in the opening round and qualify for the championship.
With just two events down in the 2016-17 season, the Rangers have eight more opportunities to earn the points needed for region titles and chances to earn spots at the CNFR. That’s exactly where Schulenberg wants to be next June.
“Everybody’s goals are to win the region, and I want to make it to the college finals,” he said. “I came to Northwestern because I’ve come to the rodeo here the last two years, and I like the facilities. I like (rodeo coach) Stockton (Graves) a lot, and I know he can help us.”