ALVA, Okla. – For the better part of the Central Plains Region season, Denton Oestmann wasn’t quite sure about his roping partner.
It affected the way Oestmann – a junior tie-down roper for the Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo team – handled his business. When he finally put his faith in Short Stack, it paid off. The Auburn, Nebraska, cowboy placed in the opening round, won the championship round and claimed the overall title this past weekend at the Oklahoma State University Rodeo in Stillwater.
“This means quite a bit to win in Stillwater,” said Oestmann, who began his rodeo career at Iowa Central Community College before eventually finding his way to Alva. “This means more than the ones I won my freshman year, because I was on a colt to win this.
“It’s hard enough to win on a solid horse, much less a colt.”
He won the Great Plains Region’s tie-down roping title in the 2018-19 season to qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo. That was on his solid horse, which suffered an injury earlier this school year and was sent back to southeastern Nebraska. He had acquired Short Stack last October, and the younger horse got the nod for the starting lineup.
“He’d only had about 100 calves tied down on him when I got him,” Oestmann said of the horse that has a smaller stature (about 14.1 hands tall); Short Stack is a sorrel gelding that will turn 6 years old later this spring. “I (tied for) fourth at the home rodeo (in Alva), and it started off right. Then I missed at Fort Scott (Kansas) and missed another one at Durant (Oklahoma).
“I drew a runner at Garden City (Kansas), so I found myself in a little bit of a slump.”
He talked to the man that trained Short Stack, who assured Oestmann that the horse had plenty of talent to work just fine.
“At those first two that I rode him at, I rode him like a colt and worried so much about him that I didn’t take care of myself,” he said. “I made myself forget about worrying about him.”
It worked out well and propelled him to the top spot in the Central Plains Region’s tie-down roping standings. He is one of two regional leaders, joining steer wrestler Jace Rutledge of Harrisonville, Missouri.
Fellow tie-down roper Colten Kropf of Haskell, Oklahoma, scored points in the first round with a 10.3-second run, good enough for a tie for fifth place. While Rutledge padded his season stats by placing in both rounds and the average in steer wrestling, Bo Yaussi of Udall, Kansas, also placed in both bulldogging rounds, including a second-place finish in both the short round and the overall race.
Team roping header Wyatt VanOrsdol of Bristow, Oklahoma, finished sixth in the opening round and the aggregate while roping with Mason Okke of Western Oklahoma State College.
For the second week in a row, breakaway roper Lindy Munsell of Arnett, Oklahoma, led the way for the Rangers women. She posted two 2.6-second runs, placing in the short round and finishing fourth overall.
When Oestmann made the move to the Central Plains Region a year and a half ago, he knew he was going to face tough competition. He’s found a home in Alva, and he’s in a nice spot atop the standings with just four rodeos remaining on the schedule. The final push will be big for the Northwestern cowboys and cowgirls; only the top three contestants in the regional standings at the end of the season will advance to the college finals in June.
The last time it was played in 2019, Oestmann appeared on that stage, and two Rangers – steer wrestler Bridger Anderson of Carrington, North Dakota, and Taylor Munsell from Arnette – brought home national titles. Oestmann would love for something similar to fall his way.
“I knew a few kids that had gone to school here, and I had some friends that were in this region,” he said of his decision to enroll at Northwestern. “I knew if you go to Alva, you can find a place to rope and keep your own calves, and I liked that a lot.”
He ropes at the home of Perry Dietz, a Northwestern rodeo team alumnus, and he takes advantage of all that is offered to him with school and rodeo. Part of that involves rodeoing for coach Stockton Graves, a seven-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier who was a former Rangers star.
“Stockton’s a winner, and he’s made a living doing it,” Oestmann said. “Guys like that talk different and act a little different. Being around him just does as much for a guy. He has a more positive attitude about winning, and that becomes contagious.”