ALVA, Okla. – A view of the Central Plains Region steer wrestling standings early in the 2022-23 season reveals what most in this part of the world have known for a long time.
The top men on the tally all come from Northwestern Oklahoma State University, also known as the Bulldogging Capital of College Rodeo. Sophomore Emmett Edler just added his name to the list this past weekend when he placed second in both rounds to win the aggregate title at the Oklahoma State University rodeo in Stillwater.
“We’re Bulldogger U for a reason, especially this year,” said Edler, 20, of State Center, Iowa. “We’ve got a lot more guys than we did last year that come to practice every day and work at it. It’s kind of a motley crew, but we feed off each other.”
He sits fourth in the Central Plains Region, and all the men in front of him are his teammates: Quade Potter of Stockville, Nebraska, sits No. 1, followed Kaden Greenfield of Lakeview, Oregon, and Cameron Fox of Tulsa, Oklahoma. In fact, six of the top nine steer wrestlers in the region are Rangers: Tyler Scheevel of Lester Prairie, Minnesota, and Trisyn Kalawaia of Waiakea, Hawaii, are tied for eight.
While Edler won in Stillwater, five others added points to their totals. Potter won the first round and placed in the short round to finish third, and Greenfield placed in the opening round and finished fifth overall. Fox and Jacob Haren of Erie, Colorado, each placed in the final round.
It all comes down to the preparatory work done by the team in practice. Coach Stockton Graves, an eight-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier in steer wrestling, leads the charge, but he also has a bit of help from other Northwestern alumni, notably a couple of 2020 NFR qualifiers, Bridger Anderson, the 2019 college bulldogging champion, and Emmett’s brother, Jacob Edler, who also won the 2020 world championship.
“Stockton is a great influence and helps set a tone,” Emmett Edler said. “Just being here in Alva, my brother, Bridger and (Rangers alumnus) Riley Westhaver are at practice every day. There are a lot of good resources here if you want to be a bulldogger and you want to get better.”
It’s part of the college rodeo experience. They’re not only students in the classroom, but they earn their lessons in the practice pen. It paid off in Stillwater, where Emmett Edler rode his horse, Jacob, to the title; the horse was trained by the elder Edler, therefore, earning his name.
“I had two good enough steers, got two great starts and I used the steers right and made two great runs,” Emmett Edler said. “You’ve got to be on the barrier and make good, smart runs.
“I definitely needed it. I had struggled at the first two rodeos. I just wasn’t using my head and wasn’t bulldogging as good as I needed to. I needed to get everything collected and go bulldog like I know I can.”
Tie-down roper Denton Oestman of Auburn, Nebraska, roped and tied his first-round calf in 9.3 seconds to finish second in the go-round. In team roping, header Ben Jackson of Hudson Hope, British Columbia, placed in both rounds and finished fourth overall while roping with Zach Dunlop of Western Oklahoma State College. The Kansas tandem of Camden Hoelting of Olpe and Austin Lampe of Dodge City placed in both rounds and finished fifth.
There was a quartet of breakaway ropers who gathered points for the Northwestern women, led by Jayden Jensen of Fallon, Nevada, who placed in the second round and finished third overall. Jentri Hulbert of Arcadia, Nebraska, won the first round with a 2.5-second run, then finished fourth in the short round and fourth overall. Laci Geiger of Emmett, Idaho, and Taralee Haddock of Elbert, Colorado, each gathered first-round points.
Goat-tier Morgan Poust of Hughesville, Pennsylvania, finished third in the opening round, but her time was a little too long in the short round to place.
Each step of the process is about getting better, whether that’s in the rodeo arena or the classroom. Competing in intercollegiate sports provides a chance to learn in all aspects of life.
“I think I have become a lot better competitor over the past year,” said Emmett Edler, who also borrowed his brother’s hazing horse to have a solid team of equine partners at OSU. “Before this, I could put some good runs together, but when it came to seal the deal and finish, I was lacking a little bit.
“Over the summer, I went home and circuit rodeoed. I kept putting myself into position that I could win and gain more and more confidence over the summer and fall.”
It’s important to do well individually, and he gets a chance to sharpen his game every day in practice by competing with his teammates and with their mentors. They learn how to wrestle steers correctly, and the idea is then to carry that over into each college rodeo.
“Practice is a lot of fun, but at the same time, we’re not there to mess around,” Emmett Edler said. “We’re there to bulldog and bulldog correct.
“This ream is really good this year. We’ve got a lot of great bulldoggers, and I expect to see nothing but black (Northwestern) vests when it comes time to go to the college finals.”