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Published March 30, 2008, 12:00 AM

On his way to the top

Killdeer’s Gartner an up-and-comer in tie-down, team roping From an early age, Duane Gartner encouraged his son, Drew, to keep working on his roping technique. If the rope didn’t snag, so be it. If the toss wasn’t pretty, it didn’t matter. The only thing that made a difference to Duane was that the young cowboy learned to keep trying.

By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press

From an early age, Duane Gartner encouraged his son, Drew, to keep working on his roping technique.

If the rope didn’t snag, so be it. If the toss wasn’t pretty, it didn’t matter. The only thing that made a difference to Duane was that the young cowboy learned to keep trying.

“Even if it wasn’t right, he told me I was doing good,” Drew Gartner said. “That sure helped.”

Today, those encouraging words have helped the Killdeer senior become one of the top high school cowboys in North Dakota.

Gartner is the state’s leader in the high school tie-down calf roping standings and is also a promising team roper.

After a strong fall season, Gartner rode competitively for the first time this spring at Saturday’s Dickinson State Cowboy Challenge, a college and high school event and the first of the university’s Triple Crown event that wraps up in May with the Blue Hawk Stampede and the Roughrider Ropaganza.

While Gartner didn’t clock a time on his first ride in the tie-down roping, he had a 15.1 in the short go. In team roping, he and header Derek Weinreis, a Beach junior, had a two-round total of 26.4 seconds.

Gartner was indifferent about his performance, but acknowledged it felt good to get back on a horse in competition.

“It’s good to practice, but it’s fun to be back and get your adrenaline going,” Gartner said.

Throughout his high school career, Gartner has steadily improved and – as he sits at third place in the boys all-around state standings – is ready to stake his place as one of the top young cowboys in North Dakota.

He qualified for last year’s National High School Finals Rodeo in boys cow cutting and team roping with header Hali Gjermundson. Gartner also joined Grassy Butte’s Layne Carson as North Dakota’s boys all-around representatives.

“He always gets better every year, no matter what,” Weinreis said.

Even though Gartner has climbed to the top of the standings in the calf roping, his heart lies in team roping.

“I’ve done that the longest and it think I can do that the best,” Gartner said.

During the high school season, he teams up with his cousin, Ethan Harris.

However, Gartner isn’t afraid to team up with Weinreis or other area cowboys when he rides in North Dakota Rodeo Association events or any other rodeo that comes his way.

While he has yet to decide on a college, Gartner has spoken with DSU rodeo coach Scott Kleeman about possibly joining the Blue Hawks next season.

If Gartner earns a spot on DSU’s rodeo team, he’ll likely focus on team roping. He has proven in the past he can head and heel.

While he believes he’s a stronger header, Garter often finds himself heeling.

“I’m probably a little better header than I am a heeler, but I feel pretty confident heeling,” Gartner said. “Either way, it feels pretty good.”

College rodeo

Results Saturday

Cowboy Challenge

At Dickinson State Indoor Arena

Note: Winners are listed only. Times and points include are two-round averages. All participants rodeo for Dickinson State.

Bareback riding: Troy Vaira, Richey, Mont., 149.

Barrel racing: Josi Price, Buffalo, S.D., 28.0.

Breakaway roping: Ashley Schaper, Halliday, 6.7.

Bull riding: Dane Maher, Eagle Butte, S.D., 142.

Tie-down roping: Turner Harris, Killdeer, 22.7.

Goat tying: Lizzie Murphy, Killdeer, 14.6.

Saddle bronc: Ty Thompson, Wamblee, S.D., 148.

Steer wrestling: Rowdy Benson, Morristown, S.D., 9.8.

Team roping: Jess Nehl, Watauga, S.D., and Rowdy Benson, 14.4.

High school rodeo

Results Saturday

Cowboy Challenge

At Dickinson State Indoor Arena

Note: Winners are listed only. Times and points include are two-round averages.

Bareback riding: Casey Breuer, Mandan, 143.

Barrel racing: Jori Gjermundson, Marshall, 29.5.

Breakaway roping: Mamie Kieson, Watford City, 8.3 seconds.

Bull riding: Thane Hollenbeck, McClusky, 133.

Calf roping: Caleb Strecker, Washburn, 31.3.

Goat tying: Sadie Gjermundson, Halliday, 14.8.

Saddle bronc: Riley Knoll, Mandan, 137.

Steer wrestling: Bronc Pippert, Sidney, Mont., 18.9.

Team roping: Wayde Eckroth, Flasher, and Austin Visser, Spiritwood, 23.8.

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