Coleman, Oklahoma (May 14, 2018) – For the fifth year in a row, Sean Mulligan and his wife Bryel have worked hard to put on a steer wrestling jackpot that is fun, gives contestants an opportunity for a nice payday, brings people to their community and, most of all, raises money for the Nothin’ But Try Scholarship given in honor of Levi Wisness.
The 2018 event, like the four before it, was held at the U-Cross Arena in Coleman, Oklahoma. This year, thanks to sponsors and the Wisness family, the added money was increased from $5,000 to $7,000. Nebraskan Dru Melvin drove seven hours to get to the event and brought five other steer wrestlers with him. He looks forward to it and has only missed it once.
Blake Mindemann has competed each year and finished second and third in the past. This year, he left as the Nothin’ But Try Steer Wrestling Champion. He had some pretty good assistance on the win. Reigning Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) world champion Tyler Pearson was on the hazing side, helping Mindemann get the fastest total time on four steers.
Mindemann also won the third round and got a new cinch for having the fastest run of the day. When his winnings were tallied, the Mindemann family (Blake, wife Cynthia and son Tucker) took $3,402 back home to Blanchard, Oklahoma. Mindemann was riding a horse called Django, owned by Johnny Asher of Tennessee. Mindemann trained the 12-year-old gelding and has been successful on him in the rodeo arena as well.
“I wouldn’t miss this jackpot,” Mindemann said. “Sean works really hard to get sponsors. $7,000 added is a huge deal in our world. It’s a lot of fun and a great event for me and my family.”
Mindemann is just inside the top 20 in the PRCA world standings. He and the family will be traveling this summer hoping to move up and make their first trip to Las Vegas to compete at the 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Current world standings leader Cole Edge, from nearby Durant, Oklahoma, took home a first-place check for a 3.9-second run in the first round. The second round was won by Tanner Littell, one of the steer wrestlers that hitched a ride from Nebraska with Dru Melvin.
The highlight of the day was watching seven-time NFR saddle bronc rider Wade Sundell slide off the back of a saddle horse and do his best to get a steer on the ground. He was successful in two of three attempts and was just a half-second away from getting a check in the second round.
Mulligan started the jackpot in 2014 to honor and remember his friend and fellow steer wrestler Levi Wisness. Wisness graduated from the University of Wyoming, Mulligan’s alma mater. The 2003 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association champion was well on his way to becoming a force in the PRCA after surviving cancer. In 2008, the rodeo world was devastated to learn of his passing.
The next year, Wisness was added to a scholarship that was started to honor bull rider Shane Drury. Since the first scholarship in 2006, nearly $35,000 has been awarded in honor of Drury, Wisness, Betty Gayle Cooper-Ratliff and Lee Akin, who still exhibits the Nothin’ But Try spirit in his daily life.
The scholarships are given to college rodeo athletes that have faced adversity and refused to let those circumstances dictate how they live. Their stories have served to inspire others from the beginning. This year’s Nothin’ But Try Steer Wrestling Jackpot raised nearly $4,000 for the Levi Wisness award.
“This event and honoring Levi is very important to me,” Mulligan said. “There isn’t a doubt in my mind that he would have gone to the NFR and could have been a world champion. That guy didn’t have any quit in him. We can remember him for that and that would make him proud. His family has been very supportive of the jackpot. We have great sponsors that donate year after year. It’s just going to keep getting better.”
Sponsors for the 2018 event include: the Wisness family; the Mitchell family; Cinch Jeans and Shirts; Chugwater Chili; Cosequin Equine; Zesterra Animal Health; Dufur Quarter Horses; Groveton Insurance; The Strategic Group; The SportZone; Flying C Rodeo; Sundell Performance Horses; Martin Saddlery; Pride Farms and Ucross Arena.