ALVA, Okla. – In a busy week for the Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo teams, there is one constant understanding: There will be a chance to improve.
The Rangers will host their once-a-year hometown rodeo, set for Thursday-Saturday at the Alva Dome. There has been some nice success stories that happen for Northwestern contestants, who not only will compete to win titles but will also be producing the rodeo and hosting all the other schools from the Central Plains Region.
The first day of competition begins with the Rope for the Roses jackpot, which is set for Wednesday night. The National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association will begin Thursday.
“There’s a lot going on and a ton of work to do to get everything ready,” said Jacob Haren, who is fresh off his best finish this past weekend in Stillwater, where he won the steer wrestling title at the Oklahoma State University rodeo. “We’ve got to work every day to get things ready and try to be ready to compete, too.
“I think we’ll be able to make it all work.”
The Rangers have shown great improvement over the early course of the 10-event regional campaign. In Stillwater, the women finished fourth overall and the men third. Haren, a senior from Callaway, Nebraska, led the way by knocking his steer down in 4.1 seconds to share the long-round victory. He came back in 4.3 seconds to finish in a tie for second in the championship round and won the aggregate title by seven-tenths of a second over two of his teammates, Cam Fox of Tulsa and Trisyn Kalawaia of Waiakea, Hawaii.
“This one felt a little bit different than before,” said Haren, who won the all-around title at the first rodeo of the season in Colby, Kansas. “I was able to finish quite a bit better in the short round, and I got to win with some of my friends.”
For the “Bulldogging Capital of College Rodeo,” Northwestern shined at OSU. Seven Rangers’ steer wrestlers qualified for the short go-round, and six earned points. Kalawaia won the championship round with a 4.2-second run, while Fox and Haren were just one-tenth of a second behind. Emmett Edler of State Center, Iowa, finished sixth in both rounds and the aggregate, while Tanner Meier of Garden City, Kansas and Logan Mullin of Clay Center, Kansas, placed in the first go-round; Payden Nusser of Alva also advanced to the final round.
“This was really cool, because it was the first time I won a bulldogging at a college rodeo,” said Haren, best known as a tie-down roper and team roper. “It’s all new to me, so it was a bit surprising.
“It’s really cool to have seven guys in the short round in bulldogging alone and for us to finish in the top three spots. When they see that many black (Northwestern) vests in the short round, they are probably taking notice.”
He rode a horse owned by teammate Quade Potter of Stockville, Nebraska; Potter and Haren were teammates at Mid-Plains Community College in McCook, Nebraska, before both transferred to Northwestern. Haren also enlisted the help of Edler as his hazer, the person riding alongside to keep the steer lined out.
“Quade’s horse is just real solid and makes it real easy,” Haren said. “You don’t have to do much but just ride him. I’ve rode him for three years now, and he’s been good every time.
“I definitely drew outstanding, and his horse just helped me out a lot. It takes all that to be consistent, and being consistent is how you do well at these things.”
Every rodeo in the Central Plains Region features a first round and a short round, and the top cumulative time or score on two runs or rides will be crowned the overall champion in each event. Points can be earned in all three phases, which is how each individual and each team moves up the standings. When the season comes to a close next April, only the top two teams and top three individuals in each event will advance to the College National Finals Rodeo.
In addition to the bulldoggers, saddle bronc rider Heston Harrison of Carnegie, Oklahoma, advanced to the championship round in Stillwater. He was joined by a host of Northwestern women, led by Makaylah Rhodes of East Point, Oregon, who was 2.4 seconds in the first round to finish just out of the top six, and consistent in her final-round run to place second on the day and tied for second in the breakaway-roping aggregate.
Lauren Hopkins of Lipan, Texas, finished the opener in a three-way tie for first after posting a 2.1-second run; she was fourth in the short round and aggregate. Aluxyn Hollenbeck of Valentine, Nebraska, was 2.3 seconds in the first go-round and earned points for finishing in a five-way tie for fifth place.
Goat-tier Morgan Poust of Hughesville, Pennsylvania, placed fourth in the short round, and her two-run cumulative time of 15.2 was good enough for sixth place overall. Savannah Greenfield of Lakeview, Oregon, also placed in the championship round.
“This was definitely one of our better team performances,” Haren said. “I think we finally got all together and got some things done.
“I’ve been having a little trouble finishing in the short rounds, so it was really nice to be able to finish one in the short round. I want to continue to do that.”