courtesy of Don Reichert Additional honorees at the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Alumni, Inc. (NIRAA) Reunion held in June were Brad Gjermundson, Dean Wang, Jesse […]
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Meet the Member Dean Wang 1990 NIRA Champion Steer Wrestler
courtesy of Don Reichert
Fourth generation Montana cowboy, Dean Wang, won the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) steer wrestling in 1990 and will be honored at the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Alumni, Inc. (NIRAA) Reunion June 18 and 19 in Casper, Wyoming. The 29th reunion will be held at the Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center during the 2021 College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR).
Dean, an NIRAA life member, is from Baker, Montana where his Scandinavian ancestors homesteaded in 1909 after moving from the Red River Valley in Minnesota. “We’ve always ranched and farmed and had cows. My folks weren’t rodeo people. When I was two years old in 1969, my parents moved to town where they built a pellet mill. So, I grew up sacking feed and sweeping floors in the feed mill.” When asked how he got involved in rodeo, Dean jokingly answered, “I started hanging around with the wrong crowd!”
He credits several local rodeo families who helped him become successful, the Askins, Eichhorns, and Berzels. They helped Dean become two time Montana High School Rodeo Steer Wrestling Champion before he graduated from high school in 1985.
He attended the University of Montana at Missoula on a football scholarship and switched to rodeo after the Mytty family took him in and he began rodeoing with the late Bob Schall. Bob was 1972 NIRA Champion Bareback Rider and Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Montana Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame inductee who taught him about rodeo travel and conducting himself. The Carpenter family at Kalispell, and especially Jeanne, influenced him to go to California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.
Dean said, “I couldn’t spell California or find it on a map, but Jeanne Carpenter who was going to Cal Poly, said ‘if you’re serious about your bull dogging you need to come out here’. I loaded my stuff and showed up out there in the fall of 1988.” The Switzer family took him in and Tom, a champion bulldogger, helped him with technique and John and Sherrie Jones had them practice a lot at their house. The team, led by Coach Clay Robinson, had regular practices and Dean developed into the NIRA West Coast Region Champion Steer Wrestler in 1989 and 1990 and was 3rd in the nation in 1989 and in 1990 was the NIRA Champion Steer Wrestler. Dean qualified for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in 1989 and 1990 in the steer wrestling. He tore his ACL on his first steer at the NFR in 1990. He ended both years in 14th. After he was injured, he went back to Baker and had the ACL repaired and worked at home before going back to steer wrestling. “I rodeoed in the circuit in ’92 and had pretty good luck, and then rodeoed one more year full time in ‘93. I qualified for the NFR and finished 1993 in 7th place in the PRCA Steer Wrestling standings. I then quit and sold all my stuff and went to work in the bank in January of ’94.
College rodeo opened many doors for Dean and gave him numerous great friends over the years. Bob Schall taught him the business end of rodeo and Tom Switzer helped him perfect the entering and traveling part of rodeo. Dean said the highlights of his rodeo career were winning the NIRA Steer Wrestling Championship and qualifying for the NFR. College rodeo took him to California and on to the PRCA and provided a lot of opportunities and to make friends all over the country. Dean is now on the Montana Pro Rodeo Wall of Fame with his mentor Bob Schall.
Dean, Bank of Baker President, says, “It is important to speak the language of the bank’s customers and relate to their lifestyle. My favorite thing is to provide a level of convenience here. If somebody calls and says they’re going to the cow sale or the equipment sale, we have the ability to tell them to go shopping and write a check and we’ll see you on Monday.”
Dean and his wife Karen have four children. Their daughter Lauren and her husband Kade Huber and their daughter Hadlee live at Dillon, son Paul lives at Belgrade, and twins Katie is at Texas A and M and Jacob is on an LDS mission in Alaska. Jacob, a steer wrestler, plans to rodeo in college after he returns from his church mission.
Join us at the NIRAA Reunion on June 18 and 19 in Casper and celebrate Dean and the other honorees for their achievements in the NIRA.