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Weekend Warrior Takes Lead in Badlands Finale

By Ruth Nicolaus/for the RAM Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo

MINOT, N.D. – A weekend warrior and a Wrangler NFR veteran took turns in the spotlight during the second round of the RAM Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo at the State Fair Center Oct. 10.

Steer wrestler Jim Hansen turfed his steer in 3.6 seconds, and Cole Elshere scored 83 points to win the saddle bronc riding.

It was the second check that Hansen, Watford City, N.D., has won so far in Minot. He tied for fourth place on Oct. 9 with a time of 3.9 seconds, and so far, he’s leading the average, the fastest time on two runs, at 7.5 seconds.

Hansen came into this year’s RBCFR in 10th place, too far behind to win the year-end circuit title, but he’s gunning for the average check, which will add about $2,200 to his earnings. He’s not looking at the statistics or doing any figuring, however.

“I’m old enough, I stay away from the numbers. I run every (steer) the same. But it’s on everybody’s mind, don’t let anybody lie to you.”

His twin brother, Tom, also qualified for this year’s RAM Badlands Circuit Finals. The two have steer wrestled since their high school days. Tom lives in Killdeer, N.D., about fifty miles from Jim, and in the past, the two have traveled together.

Jim holds down a 40-hour-a-week job as assistant operations manager for an electric company, so his rodeos are in a radius close to home.

“If it’s not within six hours, I don’t go,” he said.

It was a bad memory from the 2013 RAM Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo that has given Cole Elshere the drive to dominate this year’s rodeo.

All he had to do last year to win the average was score 70 points or better on his fourth round horse, but he got bucked off, and he didn’t forget.

“You always want to do your best, and when you don’t, you remember what happened,” he said.

He’s won two first place checks and $2,200 over two nights of rodeo. It’s not enough to move him into the lead in the standings; he came into the Finals in fifth place, $7,000 from the number one man, Jeff Willert, but he’s leading the average with 168 points on two head.

Elshere’s dance partner for Friday night’s rodeo was Sutton Rodeo Company’s Campfire, and he scored 83 points on a horse he knows well.

“That’s the sixth time I’ve drawn Campfire,” he said, “and after today, that was the third time I’ve got her covered. She’s definitely very strong.”

The horse nearly killed him twice, he joked.

“One time I got helicoptered, and one time I got back-doored. It’s been a near death experience,” he said. “I told them today it was either going to go good, or I’d get killed.”

The full-time cowboy is headed to his third Wrangler National Finals Rodeo this December, and will star as Casey Tibbs in a documentary featuring the famous South Dakota cowboy. Filming starts in May of 2015 and Elshere is studying.

“My dad bought a Casey Tibbs book, and I’ve been reading that, learning his stories, and understanding his personality. He was definitely a colorful and outgoing person, and hopefully I can portray that in the movie.”

Willert, the 2005 world champion, continues to lead the saddle bronc riding standings, but after being bucked off tonight, is out of the average race.

Other winners from the second round were bareback rider Weston Garrett, (79 points), team ropers Tyrell Moody and Rory Brown (5.6 seconds), barrel racer Lisa Lockhart (14.24 seconds), tie-down roper Dane Kissack (8.7 seconds) and bull rider Jess Davison (84).

Before the rodeo started, a big check made out for $55,600 was presented to the Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign. That amount recognizes the monies raised for this year of the campaign, with all funds going to the Trinity Cancer Exercise Rehab Center.

Since the program began eight years ago, a total of $463,311 has been raised. Myron Feist, a cancer survivor and a member of the Minot Y’s Men, presented the check to Russell Gust, exercise physiologist for the Exercise Rehab Center.

The third performance of the 2014 RAM Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo will kick off at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 11. Tickets are available online and at the State Fair Center prior to the performance. Additional rodeo information can be found at MinotYsMensRodeo.com.

Courtesy of PRCA