Rangers solidify CNFR bids

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ALVA, Okla. – Moments before he was to make a season-defining run at the final college rodeo of the 2023-24 campaign, Northwestern Oklahoma State University cowboy Emmett Edler gained a few words of encouragement from teammate Jacob Haren.

“Jacob told me to go blast that steer,” said Edler of State Center, Iowa.

That’s just what happened. Edler wrestled the steer to the ground in 6.4 seconds to win Saturday afternoon’s championship round of the Oklahoma Panhandle State University rodeo and finished second in the two-run aggregate. That was worth 110 points and helped propel the cowboy into third place in the Central Plains Region standings and earn a berth to the College National Finals Rodeo.

Here’s the rub: Haren was the cowboy Edler overtook to earn the right to compete at Casper, Wyoming, the second week of June.

“That speaks to the comradery of our team; Jacob wanted me to do good and see me succeed even if it meant that I passed him,” Edler said. “The good news is that Jacob finished second in the all-around, so he gets to go the college finals anyway.”

In the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association, only the top two teams, the top two in the all-around race and the top three individuals in each event advance to the year-end championship. Haren – who is from Callaway, Nebraska – will compete in both tie-down roping and steer wrestling when he arrives in Casper.

The Rangers had already secured the top two bulldoggers in the region before competition began this last week in Guymon, Oklahoma. Trisyn Kalawaia of Waiakea, Hawaii, is the champion, and Cam Fox of Tulsa finished the year as the runner-up. Haren, for his part, finished fourth, and Quade Potter of Stockville, Nebraska, closed out at No. 5.

“It speaks to the coaches we have,” said Edler, the younger brother of Northwestern alumnus and 2020 world champion steer wrestler Jacob Edler. “Stockton (Graves) being the coach and helping us as much as he does and my brother helping us all the time is big. We have the steers to run and the other guys to push you hard.

“It’s pretty cool when the guys you’re competing with and the guys your trying to beat out for that spot are the guys you’re practicing with every day. We push each other and want each other to do good.”

Emmett Edler wasn’t the only Ranger to secure his spot at the college finale over the weekend. Breakaway roper Lauren Hopkins of Lipan, Texas, finished third in the opening round in Guymon. That helped her win the regional title, an honor hundreds of contestants in the Central Plains strive for each year.

Hopkins was one of five Northwestern cowgirls in the Panhandle State championship round. Lacey Geiger of Emmett, Idaho, had the best finish of them all; she posted a 2.6-second run to win the final round and the aggregate title. Makaylah Rhodes of Eagle Point, Oregon, placed in the final round and average, and TaraLee Haddock of Black Forest, Colorado, was 2.9 to finish in a three-way tie for fifth in the opening round. Sierra Schott of McLaughlin, South Dakota, joined the Rangers’ contingent in the short round.

Kerry Duvall of Oakdale, California, and Kade Chace of Cherokee, Oklahoma, placed in the first round of tie-down roping but were not able to add any points on the final day of competition.

“I knew I needed to be sharp in the short round and do my job,” Edler said. “At the last few rodeos, I struggled a little bit in the short round. I knew I’d put in the work and just needed to focus and make the run and see how the cards fell. I knew, either way, I’d done all I could do and tried as hard as I could.”

He had a little help, and it wasn’t just from the coaches or other Rangers. For the last few rodeos, he had been riding EZ, a horse owned by teammate Logan Mullin of Clay Center, Kansas. He’s also been hazing for many of his teammates and other bulldoggers while riding Bullfrog, a mare owned by Ryan Swayze, a steer wrestling veteran from Freedom, Oklahoma.

“Logan gave me a chance to ride EZ at Garden City (Kansas),” Edler said. “It fit really good, and I started riding him at the college rodeos and started riding him at ProRodeos, too. Ever since I started on him, I’ve been winning something everywhere I’ve been.

“Ryan sent me Bullfrog as just a broke horse, and he gave me the opportunity to start hazing on her. She took to it really well, and it’s been a process getter her in the practice pen finished and hauling her to rodeos and getting her seasoned. She’s turned into a really nice horse. We’ve had a lot of success on her. She’s hazed for Cam, Trisyn and me at a handful of rodeos.”

That formula as worked well, and Edler will continue to use it when he arrives at the college finals, which takes place June 9-15. It will be the last rodeo in Graves 12-year tenure as coach; he announced this past week that will resign at the end of this year.

“Making the college finals this year has been something in the back of my mind,” Edler said. “Being on Stockton’s team and making the college final in his last season is a really cool deal. To be able to go to Casper and compete for him, it just makes me want to have a strong showing. I want to do as good as we can do out there and leave his legacy strong.”


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