by Tracy Renck
KISSIMMEE, Fla. – No one has ever questioned the ability of bull riders to compete through pain.
Jake Gowdy was another example of that on Friday at the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo at the Silver Spurs Arena.
With a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee that will require surgery, Gowdy wasn’t making any excuses, just winning the first round with an 81-point ride on Painted Pony Championship Rodeo’s Gentleman Jack.
“That was my first time getting on that bull,” said Gowdy, 19. “I had no clue what he was going to do. I just rode him jump for jump and he turned back to the left and he was a real big, strong bull.”
Gowdy acknowledged not having a game plan might have worked in his favor.
“If I would have thought he was going left and he went right, he would have set a trap on me,” Gowdy said. “I don’t want to set a trap with a bull. I just want to ride them jump for jump.”
Gowdy is making his RNCFR debut, thanks to winning the Prairie Circuit year-end title. However, his status for traveling to compete in Kissimmee was definitely in doubt when he injured his knee following a ride in late January.
“I will have surgery on my knee on April 20, and I was holding off on the surgery until after the RNCFR,” said Gowdy, who is from Bristow, Okla. “Since my injury, I have only been on two practice bulls at my house before I came here (to Kissimmee). I’ve just been doing physical therapy and trying to get my leg built up, but the pain is like a knife stabbing you.”
For his victorious ride, Gowdy collected a $6,182 check.
“It feels really good to win this kind of money, and that helps make the pain go away,” said Gowdy, who expects to be out for five months after his upcoming surgery. “Winning this rodeo is what I’m going for.”
In the team roping, header Jake Orman and heeler Tyler Domingue took center stage. The duo first met at Northeast Texas Community College in Mt. Pleasant, Texas, and have been best friends for the last six years.
They qualified out of the Texas Circuit to make their RNCFR debut, and they made the most of their opportunity.
“I just tried to score good and catch and let my heeler make up the time, which he did,” said Orman, 24. “I had a good steer and I was just trying to make the catch and it all worked out. This is awesome.”
Orman is originally from West Point, Miss., but has lived in Texas since he went to college there and he now lives in Huntsville.
Orman and Domingue did rope together last season, but Domingue wasn’t roping on the PRCA circuit this season. Thus, he was thrilled to partner back up with Orman in Kissimmee – and win.
“This year I just stayed home, and I have not competed at any pro rodeos,” said Domingue, who is from De Kalb, Texas. “I’ve been just riding horses and trying to stay sharp at home. It was nice to get this big check. I’ve thought about coming back out (on the circuit), but team roping is all about partnership and if you don’t have a partner to go with, it is really not worth it. Jake and I talked about roping again (after this), and we will see what happens.”
In addition to Gowdy, Orman and Domingue, other first-round winners were co-champion bareback riders R.C. Landingham (83.5 points on Big Rafter Rodeo’s Logan’s Crossing), Chase Erickson (83.5 points on United Pro Rodeo’s Little Dougy) and Mason Clements (83.5 points on Stace Smith Pro Rodeos Miss Dunny), steer wrestler Sterling Lambert (4.6 seconds), saddle bronc rider Jacobs Crawley (84 points on Sutton Rodeo’s Prom Night), tie-down roper Sterling Smith (7.8 seconds), and barrel racer Sherry Cervi (15.58 seconds).
The second round begins at 1:30 p.m. (ET) tomorrow and concludes Saturday night with a 7:30 (ET) performance. The RNCFR will crown its 2016 national champions in the final performance at 2:30 (ET) Sunday.
“Every rodeo like this, where it is a finals and the top horses and top guys, it is exciting to do well,” Crawley said. “It’s kind of the same atmosphere as the NFR; different color bucking chutes is the only difference, really. You have to have the same mentality that you would anywhere else, otherwise you might be cleaning dirt out of your teeth.”
The tournament-style RNCFR format determines the national circuit champions in each event. All 24 qualifiers from the 12 circuits compete in the two preliminary rounds of the rodeo. The top eight contestants from each event advance to the semifinal, with all previous scores and times thrown out. The top four move on to the final round, and a sudden-death competition that determines the national circuit champion in each event.
The Wrangler Network will be live streaming all the action from the RNCFR. The coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. (ET) and 7:30 p.m. April 9 and at 2:30 p.m. (ET) April 10. Log on to www.wranglernetwork.com to watch.
Kissimmee, Fla., April 7-10
Bareback riding: First round: 1. (tie) Chase Erickson, on United Pro Rodeo’s Little Dougy, and R.C. Landingham, on Big Rafter Rodeo’s Logan’s Crossing, Mason Clements, on Stace Smith Pro Rodeos’ Miss Dunny, Tim O’Connell, on Korkow Rodeo’s Bambino Vold, 83.5 points, $4,121 each; 5. Ty Breuer, 80.5, $1,311; 6. Jake Brown, 80, $937.
Steer wrestling: First round: 1. Sterling Lambert, 4.6 seconds, $6,182; 2. Riley Duvall, 4.8, $4,683; 3. (tie) Cody Pratt and Jule Hazen, 4.9, $2,810 each; 5. Shayde Etherton, 5.3, $1,311; 6. (tie) Colt Floyd and Blaine Jones, 5.6, $468 each.
Team roping: First round: 1. Jake Orman/Tyler Domingue, 5.3 seconds, $6,182; 2. Billy Bob Brown/Garrett Jess, 6.3, $4,683; 3. J.B. Lord/Levi Lord, 6.5, $3,372; 4. Andrew Ward/Tyler Worley, 6.6, $2,248; 5. (tie) Tyler Wade/Kinney Harrell, Barak Freeman/Asher Freeman and Eric Fabian/Shawn Quinn, 6.9, $749 each.
Saddle bronc riding: First round: 1. Jacobs Crawley, 84 points on Sutton Rodeo’s Prom Night, $6,182; 2. Allen Boore, 82, $4,683; 3. J.J. Elshere, 81, $3,372; 4. (tie) Sam Spreadborough, Heith DeMoss and Rusty Wright, 80.5, $1,499 each.
Tie-down roping: First round: 1. Sterling Smith, 7.8 seconds, $6,182; 2. Josh Peek, 7.9, $4,683; 3. Cole Bailey, 8.7, $3,372; 4. Taylor Santos, 8.9, $2,248; 5. Timber Moore, 9.8, $1,311; 6. Brice Ingo, 10.0, $937.
Barrel racing: First round: 1. Sherry Cervi, 15.58 seconds, $6,182; 2. Emily Miller, 15.86, $4,683; 3. Sarah Kieckhefer, 15.90, $3,372; 4. Kelly Tovar, 15.92, $3,372; 5. Calyssa Thomas, 15.94, $1,311; 6. Ivy Conrado, 15.95, $937.
Bull riding: First round: 1. Jake Gowdy, 81 points on Painted Pony Championship Rodeo’s Gentleman Jack, $6,182; 2. Cody Rostockyj, 80.5, $4,683; 3. Lon Danley, 75.5, $3,372; no other qualified rides.
Total payoff: $704,353. Stock contractors: Lancaster & Jones Pro Rodeo, Painted Pony Championship Rodeo, United Pro Rodeo, Brookman-Hyland Rodeo, Big Rafter Rodeo, Klein Brothers Pro Rodeo, Harry Vold Rodeo, Korkow Rodeos, Hi Lo ProRodeo, Rafter H Rodeo Livestock, Silver Spurs Club, Sutton Rodeos, Three Hills Rodeo, Silver Creek Rodeo, Pickett Rodeo and Stace Smith Pro Rodeos, Pete Carr Pro Rodeo.
Courtesy of PRCA