Rough Stock Events – Bareback, Saddle Bronc and Bull Riding:
Tyler Nelson’s score of 84 was the highest in bareback riding yesterday, good for him as this is his favorite rodeo. He’ll be looking for another as high or higher to add to the almost $3,700 he won in the first round so he can return for Sunday’s championship finals. George Gillespie was just behind Nelson at 83.5 points. Gillespie, a newlywed whose parents wanted him to be a doctor, is ranked 23 rd in the world standings. He earned nearly $2,000 in the first round. With an outstanding ride today and in Sunday’s finals, he could get a big boost in his quest to qualify for his first National Finals Rodeo. Shane O’Connell also scored more than 80 points on Friday. The native American cowboy from South Dakota was the national high school champion in 2013.
Saddle bronc rider Heith DeMoss scored 86.5 points on a re-ride horse yesterday to win the first round and $4,900. Another good ride today will put both him and his older brother Cody in the finals here for the first time since 2010. Heith has made the finals at Cheyenne the past two years, but finished no better than fourth. His brother has won this rodeo three times and Heith would love to have his own Cheyenne championship. Reigning world champion Jacobs Crawley finished second in the first round, just half a point behind Heith. Crawley leads the 2016 world standings, and is looking for his first championship here. Hardy Braden and Garet Aldridge also scored more than 80 points and placed in the first round. Solid rides today will put them in Sunday’s field.
Only three cowboys have a chance to make a second qualified ride today. Trevor Kastner’s 82 yesterday put him just out of the money. He is ranked 12th in the world championship standings and could solidify his place in the top 15 with a high finish in the second round and the finals. Garrett Smith was ranked 18th when he split the first round win yesterday and won $5,188. That gave him a boost in the standings, but he’s still on the bubble to make the NFR, so another win here could be huge for him. Clayton Foltyn also rode his first round bull, but spent time in the Justin Sportsmedicine trailer after his ride yesterday. He is questionable for today.
Timed Events – Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, Tie-Down Roping and Barrel Racing:
When they finished the first round of barrel racing 10 days ago, the women with the fastest times from the first round were scheduled to compete today. A few of them traded, but today’s competition should be power-packed. Watch for Mary Burger and her great buckskin gelding she calls Mo. Even though they are near the last to compete and on what is known as the bottom of the ground, they will have the fans roaring. Burger who is 67 years old already won $4,437 here with a 3 rd place finish in the first round. She also won the Cinch Shootout on opening day of the rodeo. Mo will be full of energy and having a little deeper ground should not affect them. He is consistent no matter what the conditions are and this duo is always fun to watch.
One of the people that will be watching is Sydni Blanchard who will have the final run of the day, two spots after Burger. Blanchard is riding a big sorrel mare named Famous Heartbreaker. She has an advantage over the rest of the field after having won the first round with a 17.46-second time. If she has another solid run, she will be staying in Cheyenne for another night to try to win the championship buckle.
The fastest team ropers yesterday were Jake Cooper and Tyler McKnight. With Cooper heading and McKnight heeling, they stopped the clock in 9.6 seconds – a solid and respectable run in this arena. Another solid run will see them qualify for Sunday’s championship finals. Watch for reigning world champion Aaron Tsinigine and his heeler Kinney Harrell to try to make up some ground. They were 11.5 and need to improve on that today to be back here Sunday. This duo is known for taking chances and either being quick or coming up empty.
The fast time in the steer wrestling went to Oregon’s Blake Knowles who stopped the clock in 7.7 seconds and finished third in the first round. The 3-time NFR qualifier is hoping for more success today. A year ago, he and his wife were awaiting the birth of their daughter who was born last August.
The Mutt and Jeff of tie-down ropers were successful yesterday and have an opportunity today. Cory Solomon was the fastest at 11.5 seconds. He is 5’7” and weighs in at 152 pounds, significantly smaller than the calves here. Jerrad Hofstetter, who is 6’5” and weighs 230, had a time of 12.8 seconds.