Saturday event pullers, ex-Bison worth their weight in green and gold

Schaetz, Grothmann headline ‘super human pull’

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Posted: Friday, June 14, 2019 6:04 am | Updated: 6:10 am, Fri Jun 14, 2019.

This year’s Hillsboro Days draft horse pull will give way to a different kind of thundering herd Saturday afternoon.

Following the 2 p.m. scheduled start of the horse pull, organizer Paul Geray will kick off the first-ever Hillsboro Days super human pull at 4 p.m. in Woodland Park.

The event’s debut has attracted at least one high-profile team featuring former members of the North Dakota State Bison football dynasty: Andrew Grothmann and Brian Schaetz.

The branch manager at AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Grothmann’s athletic exploits are well known in the area.

The former Hillsboro Burros state football and wrestling champion played fullback for the Bison from 2009 to 2013.

He’ll be joined on the pulling strip by Schaetz, a former standout defensive lineman for the perennial FCS champions.

A native of Denmark, Wis., and an agronomist at Rahr Malting Co. north of Hillsboro, Schaetz and his wife, Jenny, moved to town after buying a house here in February.

Schaetz admits he’s pumped for Saturday’s competitive pull.

He convinced Grothmann, a former teammate, to sign up as his partner for the competition.

“I visited with Paul awhile back and he got me excited for it,” Schaetz said Monday. “Then I messaged Andrew and said we are doing the human pull – no ifs, ands or buts.”

Grothmann seemed amused if not excited by the idea.

“I told him it sounds like hamstring trouble,” Grothmann said with a laugh. “I haven’t been training. So I hope people aren’t disappointed with the lack of conditioning.”

Even though other human pullers may not have a championship football pedigree, Geray questions whether Schaetz and Grothmann should be the favorites in Saturday’s inaugural pull.

The event will be separated into three classes – one for kids ages 12 and under and separate men’s and women’s classes.

While Schaetz and Grothmann may bring the beef, a majority of Saturday’s winners will be crowned by percentage.

If a team weighing a combined 300 pounds pulls its 600-pound skid 10 feet, the pair’s 200 percent pull would beat a 500-pound tandem that couldn’t drag a 900-pound skid the same distance.

“The percentage pull is going to throw some people for a loop,” Geray said. “It’s possible that some of these big guys could get beat by a seventh-grade kid. Those 150- to 160-pound guys are going to make the big guys have to work pretty hard.”

Of course, no matter their weights, participants in Saturday’s pull should have one other quality: heart.

“If you compare it to horses, the thing that separates the good teams from the average horses is the desire to keep going,” Geray said. “You have to have heart to win.

“If you’re 5 feet into a 10-foot pull and you’re tired and not sure if you can keep going, it comes down to who has the biggest heart and is the most competitive.”

Asked whether his team planned to toss down the gauntlet to challengers prior to Saturday’s competition, Schaetz laughed.

“I don’t think we want to do that. Some kids are probably going to beat us anyway,” he said.

Grothmann refused to take the bait as well.

“It’s possible someone out there has been secretly training for this,” he said. “I’m mostly concerned about warming up and doing a little partner stretch beforehand. Then we’ll go out and see how much we can pull.”

Although there’s no cost to enter, participants in Saturday’s pull have a chance to take home cash prizes for their athletic feats.

In the kids’ division, the top four place-winners by percentage will receive $80, $60, $40 and $20.

Those totals swell to $200, $150 and $100 for the top three winners in the men’s and women’s divisions.

And, in a late addition Wednesday, the Hillsboro Banner offered a $200 cash prize for Saturday’s top puller by total weight.

Geray said he’s hoping to continue to recruit competitors right up until the start of the super human pull.

Final registrations and a last-chance weigh-in will be held from 3 to 3:45 p.m. prior to the start of the event.

If rain postpones the event, Geray said it’s still possible the pull could be rescheduled Sunday afternoon.

“We have a little bit of a learning curve (with the pull) this year,” Geray said. “If it takes off, maybe next year we could have a pro and an amateur division and get some more guys from NDSU or UND.

“I’m really excited about this. I think it could be a lot of fun.”

For more information on the super human pull, contact Geray prior to Saturday at 701-430-0922.

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