by Frank J. Buchman
Parsons, Kansas —
He’s not even a teenager, yet, but this cowboy’s one of the best paid around.
The 12-year-old returned to his Olpe ranch home Sunday night $5,765 richer than when he left Saturday morning.
“I just got a little lucky,” Camden Hoelting said about his winnings at the United States Team Roping Championships in Hutchinson.
“It took my top heelers. They were half of it,” he added.
The Olpe Catholic School sixth grader, who slept in on his first day of summer vacation, appreciatively credited, “My dad helps me a lot.”
Hoelting, who often partners with his dad Eric, had to beat his coach, idol and best friend, to bring home those checks.
It wasn’t easy either, as Eric Hoelting and his header collected the second place awards in one division right behind his son and partner.
Still young, Hoelting’s success is no misnomer. It’s due to dedication and hard work, a lifetime of it.
“I started riding my pony when I was two years old, and began roping the dummy at exactly the same time,” Hoelting said.
“My dad is a top cowboy, and a top roper, and that’s what I’ve always wanted to be, too,” he added.
“I rope just about every day. My littlest brother, Dexton, six, and I practice on the dummy together. Then, Dad and I rope live cattle at least two or three times a week,” explained Hoelting.
Essential to the success is a dependable horse, and Hoelting is most proud of his 16-year-old gray gelding called Lightning.
“He actually belongs to my grandpa, Galen Hoelting, but I ride him all of the time. Lightning is really a great horse,” he credited.
“My dad trains all of our horses, so he helps tune on Lightning sometimes,” Hoelting added.
“Practice helps make perfect,” Hoelting insisted.
About 100 practice loops are thrown every day at the dummy, and maybe a dozen or more cattle are headed, heeled and stretched in a live session.
“Sometimes, baseball practice does interrupt my roping,” the all-around athlete admitted.
“We’re a sports oriented family,” inserted mom Trish Hoelting.
“We keep busy with baseball in the summer, football and basketball in the other seasons. All four of our boys are in sports. Camden and Dexton are the most interested in roping. Colbren, 11, just got started roping slow cattle, but Derek, 9, doesn’t care for roping,” Mom said.
Reflecting on his success in the Kansas Championships at the USTRC competition in Hutchinson, Camden Hoelting can detail all segments of every run.
The USTRC issues and maintains number classifications of almost 127,000 team ropers from across North America.
A No. 1 roper is a true beginner, and No. 9 and higher are world-class ropers. No. 5 is a low-level amateur, and No. 6 is a mid-level amateur.
In some roping events, “overs and unders” are used, meaning a roper can compete in a classification over his number, and sometimes under his number. Likewise in certain events, competitors can either draw their partner from a pool of contestants, or pick a personal choice.
Although one of the youngest among the hundreds of competitors at Hutchinson, Hoelting was one of the best there, and would be by category defined as “a world-class roper.” Other groups would classify Hoelting a “professional,” based on the money he most recently earned.
The No. 10 roping on Saturday created an adrenalin rush as Hoelting remembered, “Bruce Grinstead of Rose Hill was my heeler, and we went in fourth high call back on the final of four steers. But, my Dad with Pat Hafenstein of Osage City, as his header, came in fifth high call back.
“Dad and Pat had to rope first, and they went to the lead of the standings. Then, Bruce and I roped, and bumped them out of first place. The other three teams missed, so we won it,” he added.
Along with a check, Hoelting brought home two USTRC roping saddles.
They weren’t the first trophy saddles Hoelting has collected. “I won two saddles last fall, one in the shoot-out at Guthrie, and the No. 8 at Bethany,” he said.
Switching to Olpe Elementary as a seventh grader in August, Hoelting, who’s won his fair share in jackpot and junior rodeo events, is looking to pursue Kansas Junior High School Rodeo competitions.
While Dad Eric remains his roping mentor, Hoelting, like all 12-year-olds, still has unlimited dreams: “Of course, I want to compete in the National Finals Rodeo, but Michael Jordan is my basketball hero, I just love Michael, and Adrian Peterson is my football idol. I wouldn’t mind playing in the NBA or NFL, either one, if it works out.” £