HARRISBURG, Pa. – Steer wrestler Gregory Bennett definitely made up for lost time at the Jan. 15-17 RAM First Frontier Circuit Finals Rodeo.
The Lake Luzerne, N.Y. cowboy had not competed in the RFFCFR since 2011, and he was outstanding in his return, winning the average on three head with an 18.0-second time at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center.
“I’m just pleased as can be,” said Bennett, 45. “Having to lay off and come back, it is a great feeling. I had not been bulldogging much at all the last three years, so I couldn’t be any happier about how I performed.”
In 2011-12, Bennett didn’t run one steer and in 2013 he only went to four or five rodeos. In 2014, Bennett competed in 20 rodeos and was able to punch his ticket back to the RFFCFR.
“I took some time off because I was 42 years old at the time and my body was sore and I had a lot of surgeries and I couldn’t practice like I wanted to in order to be where I wanted to be,” Bennett said. “Plus, my kids were real young and I just wanted to get away from it for a little bit.”
While Bennett was away from the rodeo arena he spent more time with his wife, Randi, and their children, 3-year-old daughter, Fallyn, and 5-year-old son, Brayden. He has been a physical education teacher for 15 years, the last eight years at Granville (N.Y.) Elementary School.
“I came back to rodeo in 2014 and I kind of learned a few things about myself,” Bennett said. “It’s OK to not go at it as hard and accept that getting older is just part of life. I do what I can do and stay in shape and work hard. I can’t run as many steers as I used to, but I try to make the ones that I run quality.”
Having his family in the stands watching him capture the RFFCFR average crown was especially gratifying.
“When I was walking out of the arena, my wife was smiling and clapping and cheering for me and I gave her a look and saw our two kids there and it kind of chokes you up a little bit,” Bennett said.
Bennett was third in round one with a 5.2-second run and was fourth in round three, stopping the clock at 5.5 seconds to secure the average victory. Bennett collected $2,805 for his effort at the RFFCFR and he also qualified for the RAM National Circuit Finals on March 25-28 at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Fla.
“My (21-year-old) horse Chico was outstanding at the First Frontier Finals,” Bennett said. “He gave me a great shot to win and I was mentally strong.”
The last time Bennett advanced to the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo was in 2007 and he remains the most recent First Frontier cowboy to win an RNCFR individual title.
“I’m excited about getting to go to Kissimmee,” Bennett said. Competition breeds success. “I’ve been down to rodeo there before, and I’m happy I will get to see my friends that I have not seen in a while.”
Other winners at the $110,278 rodeo were all-around cowboy Zach Kilgus ($7,790, tie-down roping and team roping), bareback rider Tim Kent (227 points on three head), team ropers Zach Kilgus and Justin Yost (20.3 seconds on three head), saddle bronc rider Jace Angus, (142 points on two head), tie-down roper Zach Kilgus (35.4 seconds on three head), barrel racer Sarah Attea (43.01 seconds on three runs) and bull rider Daniel McAllister (80 points on one head).
Courtesy of PRCA