With their boots safely on the ground, Fort Calhoun cowboys Dillon Dierks and Jesse Hartline stood behind the chutes Saturday night at the conclusion of the Washington County Fair Rodeo's first performance.
Minutes earlier, both cowboys had made their Arlington bull riding debuts.
“I'm still a little shaky,” Hartline said, holding out an unsteady right hand.
“Natural high,” Dierks added. “Adrenaline.”
Washington County cowboys and cowgirls filled out Saturday night's rodeo lineup with the slack and Sunday's performance still ahead. Alongside Kennard's Brock Nielsen, the Fort Calhoun bull riders capped the first performance's competition.
Dierks won an Albion rodeo this summer with an 86-point ride, but was making just his sixth official attempt in Arlington. He came up short of an 8-second ride as Lane Sorensen of Fremont was the only cowboy to qualify a score.
“I was feeling good. Pretty nervous,” Dierks said, pleased with his effort. “It wasn't even the fact of getting on a bull. It was just knowing a lot of people around here.”
His former teammate on the FCHS football team, Hartline, was making just his second attempt on a bull ever.
“Jesse frickin' did good,” Dierks said.
“It's night-and-day difference,” Hartline said, comparing Saturday's ride to his first in Overton. “I feel like the ride was completely different.”
The bull rider also failed to register a score, but it was not an unusual occurrence in roughstock competition that night. Austin Rose won a rodeo in Syracuse 24 hours before his Arlington bareback riding debut, but fell short on a McKay Rodeo Company bucking horse Saturday.
“I really enjoy going out first,” the Guide Rock cowboy said. “I don't like sitting around waiting.”
Austin Madison of Onawa, Iowa, didn't have to wait long after the bareback riding to win the first performance's steer wrestling in 6.3 seconds. Jennifer Sells of Coin, Iowa, then won the breakaway roping in 2.9 seconds before Auburn's Jarret Oestmann won the tie-down roping in 9.9.
Father-and-son team roping duo Jeff and Cameron Shaner of Fort Calhoun then qualified the lone time — 17.1 seconds — to win their event.
“It's a complicated sport,” Jeff Shaner said. “Lots of minds have to get together in order to have a good run and we were just lucky enough to get it done tonight.”
Succeeding in the sport with a son was an added bonus.
“It's like cheating,” Shaner said. “I'm blessed to get out there with him, for sure.”
Another Washington County cowboy, Mitch Barney of Blair, was apart of the mixed-team roping win, too. He and Lakota Elkins of Ericson won the performance in 8.2 seconds, edging out Bradie and Harry Crouse of Blair.
“I thought we'd probably have a good one,” Barney said even after teams struggled in the first team roping event. “I know my partner pretty well. She always catches really good, and I just tried to catch the steer.”
A rodeo back in his home county capped a memorable run of competition.
“It's awesome,” Barney said. “We were up at Burwell last night and we floated down the river with the family today, hanging out with friends. This was exactly on our way home. We pulled in here at 7:30 p.m. and it was perfect.”
Official winners of the first performance's mutton busting weren't announced over the loudspeaker, but Gage Hanson, 7, of Blair had a notable run. He rode his sheep for several seconds even as it made turns like a bull, albeit much slower.
Christine Knight of Pierson, Iowa, however, was fast. She won the barrel racing in 15.63 seconds before the bull riders finished off the first performance under the new main arena lights.
It, overall, was a successful night for Washington County rodeo talent, including Dierks and Hartline.
“Every time I'd come here when I was younger, I always wanted to be in this rodeo,” Dierks said. “Thought I'd start before that and try and be good enough that I could cover in front of everyone here.”
He came up short Saturday, but both Hartline and he still have time to come back again.
“We'll get there,” Dierks said after a night at the fairgrounds in Arlington.
WASHINGTON COUNTY FAIR RODEO
Breakaway roping: Laney Hoier, Herman (no time); Bradie Crouse, Blair (8.6 seconds); Hailey O'Daniel, Arlington (no time).
Team roping: Matt O'Daniel, Arlington, with Kent Martin, Elkhorn (no time); Wyatt Moore, Kennard, with Paul Sowers, Henderson, Iowa (no time); David Anderson, Blair, with Kevin Schwedhelm, Fort Calhoun (no time); Jeff Shaner with Cameron Shaner, Fort Calhoun (17.1 seconds); Dylan Schmidt with Rick Schmidt (no time).
Mixed-team roping: Cassidy Arp with Jason Arp, Kennard (no time); Harry Crouse with Bradie Crouse, Blair (13.7 seconds); Mitch Barney, Blair, with Lakota Elkins, Ericson (8.2 seconds); Jayden Fleischman, Herman, with Wyatt Moore, Kennard (no time); Hailey O'Daniel with Matt O'Daniel, Arlington (30.7).
Barrel racing: Lauren Schwedhelm, Kennard (18.43 seconds); Bradie Crouse, Blair (21.58 seconds).
Bull riding: Brock Nielsen, Kennard (no score); Dillon Dierks, Fort Calhoun (no score); Jesse Hartline, Fort Calhoun (no score).
Team roping: Chris Fleischman, Herman, with Cody Beyer, Blair.
Barrel racing: Bailey Stoddard, Blair; Charley Hoier, Herman; Grace Adams, Arlington; Laney Hoier, Herman; Stacy O'Daniel, Arlington; Stephanie Moore, Kennard; Hailey O'Daniel, Arlington; Annika Gaylord, Blair.
Team roping: JJ Schueth, Blair, with Cody Sharpe, Bennington.
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