Sainsbury Nearing First Badlands Circuit Title

By Ruth Nicolaus/for the RAM Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo

MINOT, N.D. – Forest Sainsbury came into this year’s RAM Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo in first place, and he hasn’t looked back.

The Camp Crook, S.D., steer wrestler nearly cemented his place as Badlands Circuit champion Oct. 11 with a solid run of 3.7 seconds, jumping from fourth place in the average to first.

He’s about $2300 ahead of the number two man in the standings – his friend Sheldon Portwine, of Dickinson, N.D.

“I had the steer they won the first two rounds on,” Sainsbury said. “I was dreaming about him last night. He’s the kind you want. He wanted to stop there a little bit, and get away from me, and I just set a trap for him, caught him, and he took it. It’s a lot of fun.”

The 27 year old cowboy leapfrogged three bulldoggers tonight to jump into first place in the average with 12.0 seconds on three runs, after Jim Hansen (the second round winner) had a 10-second penalty for breaking the barrier, Reed Petersek had a 5.5 second run, and Brett Gumb, a no-time.

Sainsbury has a plan for his final run for the Oct. 12 final performance at 1:30 p.m.: “We’ll just throw one down tomorrow and see what happens.”

He is set to win his first year-end title and the average.

“That’s the plan,” he said.

If Sainsbury should win both categories, the number two man in the year-end standings qualifies along with him for the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Kissimmee, Fla., in March of 2015. Right now, the number two man is Sainsbury’s friend Portwine.

“Sheldon’s one of my good friends. I’d like to win the average and the year-end and then we both get to go to Kissimmee. But we’ll see what happens.”

The camaraderie among steer wrestlers is well-known, and Sainsbury is part of it. When he realized his mare would not be able to compete due to stretched and pulled tendons, he called on the 2012 RAM Badlands Circuit average champion Jason Reiss and his horse, Scooter.

“He’s a really, really good horse,” Sainsbury said. “I brought my mare up here, and she was saddled, warmed up, and ready to go,” until Sainsbury realized her injuries.

“I asked Jason if I could ride his horse, and he said yes. That’s what’s nice about the bulldoggers. We help each other out. We cheer for each other, and when you make a good run, everybody’s slapping your hand.”

Bull riding brothers Jeff Bertus and Joe Bertus were the only two cowboys to make the eight-second buzzer during the third night of the rodeo. Joe, the younger of the two by two years, scored 80 points, with brother Jeff scoring 78.

“First and second (places), being brothers, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Joe Bertus said.

This is Joe’s his first year of qualification for the RAM Badlands Circuit Finals and his win Oct. 11 marked the first bull he’d covered for the weekend. Jeff is the only cowboy to make a qualified ride on all three bulls, so he leads the average with 238 points on three rides.

The brothers holler encouragement to each other as they ride, but they usually can’t hear it.

“When you’re on a bull, it’s pretty hard to hear anything,” Joe said. “You’re pretty zoned out.”

Jeff, who graduated from Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell last May, has won the average at the RAM Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo the last two years.

The other third go-round winners were bareback rider Ty Breuer (85 points), team ropers Wyatt Bice and Justin Scofield (5.5 seconds), saddle bronc rider Jeremy Meeks (81 points), barrel racer Desirae Earl (13.94 seconds) and tie-down roper Cole Hatzenbuehler (8.7 seconds).

Courtesy of PRCA