Underdogs have Night to Howl at Moon in Minot

by Jim Bainbridge
By Ruth Nicolaus/for the RAM Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo committee

MINOT, N.D. – It was a night for the underdogs at the State Fair Center.

Several cowboys were able to win their first checks during the third round of the RAM Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo.

Bull rider Tyson Donovan was one of those “underdogs.”

He made an 87-point ride on Bailey Rodeo Company’s Dakota Storm, the first qualified ride he’s made all weekend.

Donovan, of New Underwood, S.D., is riding with a cracked sternum, suffered at the Sioux Falls, S.D., rodeo three weeks ago. He knew something was wrong right away.

“I didn’t know how serious it was,” he said. “I started getting hot, I was sweating, and I was getting pains down the backs of my arms.”

A trip to the emergency room diagnosed the crack.

He’s also tweaked his shoulder and his riding arm muscles are tight. “I’m getting to be an old man,” the 28-year-old joked. “But I keep telling myself I’m in my prime.”

The cracked sternum doesn’t cause him too much pain. He slept upright for a week, and Epsom salts baths help ease the pain.

No contestant has ridden all three of his bulls, and only one has covered two bull – Ardie Maier, who is only $1,200 behind the number one man, Bart Miller. Miller hasn’t ridden a bull yet this weekend.

The bull riding race is between those two men; no other bull rider is within striking distance of them, even if they ride their bull during tomorrow’s final performance.

Saddle bronc rider Louie Brunson won the third round of the rodeo with a score of 78.5 points on Mosbrucker Rodeo’s War and Peace.

It’s the first check the New Underwood, S.D. man has earned this weekend at the RAM Badlands Circuit Finals, and it was on a horse that was hard to ride.

“That horse is a lot of work,” Brunson said. “She’s big and she’s not easy to spur or ride good. I was happy to make (the buzzer).”

The horse, a 12-year-old mare, had bucked off Brunson two other times, once at the Badlands Circuit Finals several years ago. “She got me the first two, but not number three.”

The $1,730 check will come in handy for the new father. “It’ll buy some diapers,” he said with a smile. He and his wife Amy are the parents of a two-month-old daughter, Bryndel.

The saddle bronc riding championship was sewed up by Chuck Schmidt on Saturday night, who is $7,000 ahead of Ty Manke. Manke, Hermosa, S.D., leads the average with 235.5 points on three head.

In the team roping, Junior Dees and Matt Zancanella won the round with a time of 4.7 seconds. This is the first time the team has placed all weekend.

Steer wrestler Taz Olson, Prairie City, S.D., made a 3.5-second run to win his second check of the weekend, and tie-down roper Joe Schmidt, Belfield, N.D., won his first check of the weekend with a time of 8.8 seconds to win the third round.

Ty Breuer continued his winning ways with his second first-place finish in the bareback riding on Saturday night. He leads the average with 249 points on three head.

Barrel racer Jana Griemsman, Piedmont, S.D., is one step closer to a Badlands title She made a 13.84-second run to place for the second time. She leads the No. 2 cowgirl, Calyssa Thomas, by more than $7,000.

The Levi Wisness Award was presented to steer wrestler Carson Johnston, Elm Springs, S.D., on Saturday night. A freshman at Black Hills State University, he is the high-money permit holder in the Badlands Circuit. The award is given in honor of Levi, a Keene, N.D. steer wrestler who died of cancer in 2008.

The final performance of the RAM Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo is set for Sunday at 1:30 p.m., with the 2017 Miss Rodeo North Dakota coronation at 1:15 p.m. Badlands Circuit champions for the year-end and the average will be crowned and will qualify for the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Kissimmee, Florida April 6-9, 2017. For full results, visit For rodeo information, visit

Courtesy of PRCA