Garrett Shadbolt made the bareback riding equivalent to a slam dunk in Duncan, Okla., winning both rounds and the average at the RAM Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo for a $5,616 kickstart to the freshly minted 2021 ProRodeo season.
The 2019 Bareback Riding PRCA | Resistol Rookie of the Year has been creeping closer toward qualifying for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, missing the target by $8,946 after finishing 21st in the 2020 season.
“I’m as hungry as a guy can get,” said Shadbolt, 24. “I like to set stepping stones with my goals, and I’ve hit them with the Rookie of the Year and then winning this was one, so I’m ready to crack out and make it there (the NFR), and hopefully I’ll make it there in style.”
The Nebraska cowboy took New Frontier Rodeo’s Brown Eyed Girl for an 83-point ride in the first round and posted an 80-point ride on Silver Creek Rodeo’s My Hero in the second round to claim the average with 163 points on two head.
“I had the right bucking horses for sure, and I showed up with a new bareback rigging and that made a big difference,” Shadbolt said. “I got on My Hero in Cedar Vale (Kan.) a couple of years ago, and he led me around and I barely rode him, so it was cool to get him ridden.”
Shadbolt had finished second in the average at the RAM PCFR two of the last three times he competed there before this weekend, most recently missing the win by 10 points to finish second at last year’s RAM PCFR.
He made his RAM PCFR debut in October 2017, missing the average by two points with 235 points on two head.
“That’s the best I’d done at this, and I’ve been chasing it ever since,” Shadbolt said.
Winning the RAM PCFR this year was particularly important for Shadbolt, since he was third in the Prairie Circuit standings with $5,878 before his Duncan win, making this his golden ticket to the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Kissimmee, Fla., in April.
“I’ve never been to the National Circuit Finals before, so it’s been a goal of mine for a long time, and I’m excited to go down there and do that,” Shadbolt said. “It’ll be more important this year than previous years.
“It feels like that National Circuit Finals and the National Finals are some of the only guaranteed rodeos, since they made the (national) circuit finals work last year and we’ll do it again. I’m excited to get my foot in the door. Things are up in the air really. On one hand, I want to say I’ll go to all of these smaller rodeos but I don’t know that I want everyone to know that since that might be the strategy that wins. I’m not worried about my rodeo count, so I have to keep going. I have a wife (Katie) and a new baby (George, 9 months old) that I want to be home for, but I need to stay out at these rodeos and get the pedal down for the Finals this year.”
While George might not be the most common name for a newborn in 2020, that’s not the case in the Shadbolt family.
“He’s the sixth George in the family,” Shadbolt laughed. “We all go by our middle names, so he’s George James, and I’m also the fifth cattle rancher in Nebraska, so George Shadbolts have run cattle in Nebraska since 1890 – that’s the family history, so we’ll keep up the trend.”
Other winners at the $132,529 rodeo were all-around cowboy Blake Deckard ($4,725, tie-down roping and steer roping); steer wrestler Jacob Edler (8.0 seconds on two head); team ropers Jake Clay/Brye Crites (9.1 seconds on two head); saddle bronc rider Jake Finlay (169 points on two head); tie-down roper Hunter Herrin (16.9 seconds on two head); barrel racer Emily Miller (31.03 seconds on two runs); steer roper Chet Herren (37.7 seconds on three head); and bull rider Trevor Kastner (169 points on two head).
For more coverage on the RAM Great Lakes Circuit Finals Rodeo, check out the Oct. 30 edition of ProRodeo Sports News.
Courtesy of PRCA