by Jim Bainbridge | Jul 30, 2016
By Ruth Nicolaus/for the Last Chance Stampede committee
HELENA, Mont. – It was Joe Lufkin’s first trip to Helena for the Last Chance Stampede, and he made the most of it, scoring 78 points on his horse to split the lead in the saddle bronc riding.
The 23-year old cowboy from Sallisaw, Okla., rode Kesler Rodeo Company’s Rain Forest, a horse he had never been on but had heard about. “They told me he was good, and that he bucked,” he said, “and he was.”
“He was a handful, that’s for sure. I wasn’t expecting that. The horse bucked, I sat down and didn’t fall off,” he laughed. “That’s about as good as you can get.”
Lufkin is having the best year of his five-year ProRodeo career. “I’m just having fun,” he said. “Me and (fellow saddle bronc rider) Roper Kiesner are traveling together, and he’s a great bronc rider, and we’re just living life.”
He and Kiesner, also an Oklahoman, began traveling together this year. “We don’t have any worries; we’re just having fun. We both love to ride bucking horses and we pump each other up. And it’s been great.”
Lufkin is 14th in the WEATHER GUARD PRCA world standings, and hopefully headed to his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, but he chooses to not keep track of where he’s ranked.
“I try not to think about it too much,” he said. “Rodeo, it’s a mental game. It’s pretty much 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical. If you get too much stuff in your head, you can’t do your stuff right. So, I just take one bronc at a time, and have fun, and if I make the (Wrangler National) Finals, I make the Finals. That’s great. And if not, I keep trying.”
Lufkin is tied with Luke Butterfield, of Ponoka, Alberta, who also scored 78 points on Thursday night.
The team roping lead changed hands on Friday as Texas cowboys Nathan McWhorter and Dustin Davis had a time of 4.6 seconds. The pair has been roping together since October in the pro ranks, but roped in high school and college rodeo.
Davis and McWhorter complement each other well. “He tends to score, he’s really good,” Davis said, of his header. “He doesn’t reach as far as a lot of guys. Most of the time when the head rope goes on, it’s tied around the horns, and the steers are moving. I know right where they’re going.”
Other fast times and high scores from the second performance of the Last Chance Stampede and Fair are bareback rider Devan Reilly, Sheridan, Wyo. (75 points), steer wrestler Clayton Hass, Terrell, Texas (4.0 seconds), tie-down roper Reese Riemer, Stinnett, Texas (8.8 seconds), barrel racer Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, S.D. (17.78 seconds), and bull rider Riker Carter, Stone, Idaho (61 points.)
The final night of the Last Chance Stampede is Saturday, July 30 with a performance at 7:30 pm. The day is full of activities, including the Gold Buckle Dreams Youth Rodeo at 8 am, and the Stampede Parade at noon. The carnival opens at 1pm. Tickets are available online and at the gate.
Courtesy of PRCA