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Auctioneer championship comes to Rugby

By Staff | Feb 15, 2019

Sue Sitter/PCT Greater Midwest Livestock Auctioneering Champion Tim Yoder (right) conducts a sale as contest emcee Mike Ostrem looks on.

Auctioneers, cattle buyers and spectators from as far away as the eastern United States huddled in the warmth of Rugby Livestock Auction’s sale barn Monday to take in the 30th annual Greater Midwest Livestock Auctioneer Championship.

Tim Yoder, Montezuma, Ga., won the 2019 Champion title, outdoing the fast-talking performances of 16 competitors from seven states.

Although about three inches of snow fell outside, some of it dusting the backs of cattle for sale, the Rugby Livestock Auction staff made sure to keep things comfortable in their building, providing coffee and cookies in the office hallway. The Feedlot Caf inside the building offered lunch for hungry customers.

The 17 contestants had two rounds to vie for the title, which according to event organizer Mike Ostrem, serves as an indicator of a future World Livestock Auctioneer titleholder. 2016 Greater Midwest Champ and current World Livestock Auctioneer titleholder Jared Miller, Leon, Iowa, was a special guest.

Six contestants represented North Dakota.

Shane Wolf, of Golden Valley, and Nick Caspers, of Bismarck, took 2nd and 3rd place in the competition. The top three contenders were awarded commemorative belt buckles.

The competition began in the morning with the national anthem, and the first contestant, Payden Dronen of Steele, introduced himself and got to work selling five groups of beef cattle. Next, Yoder took the mic to sell five more groups with a distinctive southern drawl.

The auctioneers’ cadence returned to a Midwestern accent when Wade Leist of Boyne City, MI and Larry Nisly of Quaker City, Ohio, took their turns. Scott Werlein and Mark Olberholzer of Mondavi, Wis., and Loyal, Wis., began their time at the mic with brief introductions, while Brad Veurink of Corsica, S.D., and Brett Heath of Colome, S.D., did their best to bring top prices for the cattle they sold. Zach Ballard and Leon Martin represented Iowa.

Jake Billington, Twin Falls, ID, rounded out the list of contenders from out-of-state.

North Dakota contestants Ross Glass, Mandan; Tyler Schoch, Dickinson; and Terry Moe, Watford City, also competed.

After the 17 competitors sold their groups of cattle in the first round, judges called them all back for a second round. Each competitor did his best to up his game.

“Here’s a set of cattle that’ll knock your eyeballs out,” said Leist as he began his second stint at the mic.

After the second round, Ostrem, who served as an emcee for the event, told the crowd he would announce the top ten “in no particular order,” then name the top three.

Finalists were: Leist, Ballard, Billington, Werlein, Vuerink, and Martin. All finalists received plaques.

As Yoder, Wolf and Caspers took their belt buckles, each waved and thanked the crowd.

“I’ve never been to North Dakota before,” Yoder told the Tribune after the contest. “It’s certainly a great agricultural area; the cattle here in North Dakota are as good as you see anywhere in the country.”

Yoder described his stay in Rugby as “a good time. It’s a little cold, coming out of Georgia, but it’s been a great time. Everyone was nice.”

“The hospitality was great,” Yoder continued. “This auction market is run very well. Mike (Ostrem) does a great job. The hospitality’s been great.”

“It’s definitely very humbling,” Yoder said of his win. “There are 16 other auctioneers, and any one of them could have taken away the top award. It’s humbling to come up here to North Dakota and win this honor. It’s not all about winning the contest, but it’s about getting a little bit better, and making friends, and meeting good people wherever you go.”

Yoder said he has won auctioneering contests before in the southeastern United States. “I won the Southeast Regional Auctioneering Contest. It’s not a livestock contest, but just a general auctioneering contest. I also won the state contest there in Georgia,” he noted.

World Auctioneer titleholder Miller had high praise for Rugby’s hospitality as well.

“The hospitality was exceptional. These smaller towns have real salt of the earth people,” Miller said. Miller described Rugby’s weather as “nice during the summer, but not so nice in February.”

Contestant Olberholtzer agreed. When asked for his thoughts on Rugby, he said, “Cold, but a nice place, good hospitality.”

Was it colder than Wisconsin?

“Right today, yes, but last week, it was -30, so it was colder then,” Olberholzer said.

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