ALVA, Okla. – The colors at Kansas State University are purple and white, but the championship round of its rodeo looked a lot like Northwestern Oklahoma State University.
The Northwestern contestants made up 25 spots in Sunday’s short round in Manhattan, Kan., showcasing the red and black vests inside Weber Arena on the K-State campus. The Rangers won the team title and had three event champions: barrel racer Ashlyn Moeder, tie-down roper Ethan Price and steer wrestler Riley Westhaver.
“I think we’re off to a really good start,” said Westhaver, a junior from High River, Alberta. “Everybody’s feeling good and ready to keep moving on.”
He was the leader of a six-man contingent of bulldoggers in the K-State short round. He was joined by Talan Roseland of Marshalltown, Iowa, who finished tied for second with Grayson Allred of Kanarraville, Utah. Allred won the opening round with an arena-record setting 4.2-second run, then settled for sixth place in the finale.
Westhaver utilized a very strong short-go to win the two-run aggregate and the bulk of the points. He finished fourth in the opening round with a 5.4-second run, then blistered a 4.4-second run in the short round to win the average by more than two seconds.
“I think the short go went pretty good,” Westhaver said. “I had a little trouble in the box, but it just sorted itself out. I saw my start and went out and made a decent run. I had a pretty good steer.”
Jace Rutledge of Harrisonville, Mo., placed in a tie for second in the short round and finished in a tie for fifth place in the average. Brent Woodward of Dupree, S.D., finished second in the first round, while Wacey Dorenkamp of Bristol, Colo., finished fifth in the short round. Neither placed in the average, but they were a consistent piece of the puzzle for the Northwestern men.
Price, of Leedey, Okla., proved consistency works best. He finished sixth in the long round with a 10.4-second run, then was 10.5 seconds to win the championship round and the average title. He was joined in the short round by Allred, who posted a 10.8 second run to earn a spot in the finale.
The Rangers were also represented in the short round by five team ropers: Sean Doherty, a heeler from Kim, Colo., who placed eighth in the first round with his teammate, Tanner Samuelson of Fort Hays (Kan.) State University; Logan Wood, a header from Prescott, Iowa, and his partner, Edgar Fierro, a heeler from Hennessey, Okla.; and header Kass Bittle of Kremlin, Okla., and his partner, Jaydon Laubhan, a heeler from Follett, Texas.
The women were paced by the Rangers’ barrel racing contingent. Moeder of Oakley, Kan., won the first round and the average and was followed by two teammates: Alyssa Gabrielson of Perham, Minn., won the short round and finished second in the average; and Sara Bynum of Beggs, Okla., finished third in the short round and average. They were joined in the short round by Jennifer Massing of Ponoka, Alberta.
There were six Northwestern breakaway ropers in the championship round, led by Brandi Hollenbeck of Hutchinson, Kan., who won the short round and finished third overall. She was followed by Melissa Couture of Springdale, Ark., who finished fourth; Sami McGuire of Backus, Minn., who placed fifth; and Sage Allen of Pawhuska, Okla., who was sixth. They were joined in the finale by Cassy Woodward of Dupree and Aundrea Dufrane of Dawson, Minn., who finished the first round in a three-way tie for fifth.
Dufrane and Massing also advanced to the championship round in goat-tying. Dufrane finished in a tie for second place in the first round with a 6.5-second run but was long on her second run. Massing share the short-round victory with a 6.5, then finished in a tie for second with a two-run cumulative time of 13.9 seconds.
Overall, it was an outstanding appearance by the Rangers in Kansas. Westhaver proved that having a strong mental approach to go along with athleticism was beneficial.
“I just try to hang out and stay lose,” he said. “I try not to get too worked up about it. You would think it’s more of a physical sport, but when you get there, it’s more mental. You’ve spent so much time practicing that your mental game takes over.
“I’m just going to keep practicing every day and hopefully make the college finals. That’s my end goal.”