Homegrown Cowboy

By: Ruth Nicolaus

Oregon steer wrestler takes lead at St. Paul Rodeo; fourth performance of the Nation’s Greatest 4th of July Rodeo takes place

Oregon’s Blake Knowles leads the steer wrestling average, the fastest combined time on two runs, at the St. Paul Rodeo after the July 3 performance. Photo by Hoot Creek.

St. Paul, Ore. – A home state cowboy has taken the lead in the steer wrestling at the St. Paul Rodeo.

Blake Knowles made two fast runs on July 3 during slack and the evening performance, 4.4 seconds in the first round and 3.8 seconds in the second round, to lead the average (the combined time on two runs) at the rodeo (8.2 seconds).

Knowles, a native of Heppner, Ore., hadn’t done well this past week, at rodeos in Cody, Wyo., Oakley, Utah and Livingston, Mont., but his fortune changed when he got back to his home state.

“I was in Eugene last night and had a really good (steer),” he said. “I was fortunate to have luck there, and built off that momentum today.”

Knowles, who has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo five times, was aboard a horse he and his family raised on their ranch near Heppner.

He knew King, a fourteen-year-old buckskin gelding, might be special, but he never thought the horse would be able to compete professionally.

The pair started out ranching, Knowles said. “I ranched on him until he was seven or eight years old, to let him mature. We started on the ranch, riding through the Blue Mountains, caring for cattle. When we first started, he was awesome, great to ride and ranch on. Never in a million years did I think we’d be on the rodeo trail together.”

“He was always incredibly athletic,” he said, “but he was just a little bit of a handful. Not an outlaw, but a handful. I wasn’t sure he could handle this,” he said, referring to the rodeo atmosphere.

Knowles tried the horse in a couple of different rodeo disciplines, in the roping, and hazing, “and he didn’t love them,” he said. “He did ok, but not great.”

It was when Knowles tried steer wrestling on him that King’s abilities shone.

The horse is fast, which makes him an even better steer wrestling horse, and it inspires Knowles, too.

“He’s got some power in the saddle horn,” Knowles said, explaining that he can feel King as he gets faster and faster. “I can feel it,” he said. “Actually, it sounds cheesy, but you feed off that energy. It’s like driving a race car, when it’s zero (miles per hour) to 100. As you’re coming up to that steer, your adrenaline is up and it’s a kind of fight or flight feeling” when he slides off the horse to the steer.

Knowles loves coming home to rodeo.

“This rodeo is absolutely at the top,” he said. “They set the standard, they really do. I saw today they sold 56,000 tickets and that’s just awesome. Someday, when I’m done rodeoing, I’ll come back to watch this rodeo, and I look forward to it.”

Knowles’ dad, Butch, who is a television rodeo commentator, was a PRCA rodeo cowboy in his younger days, and in 1979, won the saddle bronc riding and the all-around title at the St. Paul Rodeo. Butch is a 2019 inductee into the St. Paul Rodeo Hall of Fame.

Saddle bronc rider Sage Newman tied the arena record during the July 3 performance of the St. Paul Rodeo with a score of 89 points. Photo by Hoot Creek.

Other high scores and fast times from slack and the fourth performance of the St. Paul Rodeo are bareback rider Bill Tutor (82.5) and the number one man in the PRCA world standings, saddle bronc rider Sage Newman, Melstone, Mont. (89 points, to match the record set in 2019 by Cort Scheer). One bull rider made a qualified ride: Josh Frost, the number two bull rider in the nation (76 points).

In the timed events, first and second round leader are as follows: steer wrestler Dalton Massey, Hermiston, Ore. (3.9 seconds, first round) and Blake Knowles, Heppner, Ore. (3.8 seconds, second round); and tie-down roper Bo Pickett, Caldwell, Idaho (9.0 seconds in the first round and 9.3 in the second round.)

In the team roping, Cody Snow, Los Olivos, Calif. and Wesley Thorp, Throckmorton, Texas were the fast time in the first round (4.5 seconds), and Tyler Wade, Terrell, Texas and Trey Yates, Pueblo, Colo., were the fast time in the second round (9.9 seconds).

The St. Paul Rodeo wraps up on July 4 with two performances: a 1:30 pm matinee and a 7:30 pm performance. The parade takes place at 10 am through downtown St. Paul.

For more information, visit the website at

Results from the slack and fourth evening performance, St. Paul Rodeo, July 3, 2022

Bareback Riding

1. Bill Tutor, Huntsville, Texas 82.5 points on Big Stone Rodeo’s Fired Up; 2. Waylon Bourgeois, Church Point, La. 81; 3. Cooper Cooke, Victor, Idaho 80; no other qualified rides.

Steer wrestling

1st round leaders:

1. Dalton Massey, Hermiston, Ore. 3.9 seconds; 2. Dakota Eldridge, Elko, Nev. 4.3; 3. Blake Knowles, Heppner, Ore. 4.4; 4. Mike McGinn, Haines, Ore. 4.9.

2nd round leaders:

1. Blake Knowles, Heppner, Ore. 3.8 seconds; 2. Will Lummus, Byhalia, Miss. 3.9; 3. Justin Kimsey, Kennewick, Wash. 5.0; 4. Dalton Massey, Hermiston, Ore. 5.2.

Bull riding

1. Josh Frost, Randlette, Utah 76 points on King Rodeo’s KW; no other qualified rides.

Tie-down roping

1st round leaders:

1. Bo Pickett, Caldwell, Idaho 9.0 seconds; 2. Wyatt Muggli, Lane, Okla. 9.5; 3. John Douch, Huntsville, Texas 9.9; 4. Dakota Felton, Mountain Home, Texas 10.0.

2nd round leaders:

1. Bo Pickett, Caldwell, Idaho 9.3 seconds; 2. John Douch, Huntsville, Texas 10.4; 3. Jordan Tye, Canby, Ore. 10.7; no other qualified runs.

Saddle bronc riding

1. Sage Newman, Melstone, Mont. 89 points on Sankey Rodeo’s Pendleton Roundup’s Marquee; 2. Isaac Diaz, Desdemona, Texas 76; 3. Clancy Glenn, Parma, Idaho 72; 4. Nick Mark Joyce, Juntura, Ore. 65.

Team roping

1st round leaders

1. Cody Snow, Los Olivos, Calif./Wesley Thorp, Throckmorton, Texas 4.5 seconds; 2. Dalton Turner, Sidney, Ark./Blaine Turner, Batesville, Ark. 5.2; 3. (tie) Lightning Aguilera, Athens, Texas/Coleby Payne, Stephenville, Texas and Tanner Tomlinson, Angleton, Texas/Patrick Smith, Lipan, Texas 6.0 each.

2nd round leaders

1. Tyler Wade, Terrell, Texas/Trey Yates, Pueblo, Colo. 9.9 seconds; 2. Cody Snow, Los Olivos, Calif./Wesley Thorp, Throckmorton, Texas 10.0; 3. Dillon Holyfield, Lewiston, Idaho/Clayton Moore, Bridgeville, Calif. 11.5; no other qualified runs.

Barrel racing

1. Tanya Jones, Culver, Ore. 18.04 seconds; 2. Colleen Kingsbury, Powell Butte, Ore. 18.11; 3. Oceana Champion, Ukiah, Calif. 18.24; 4. Ali Anton, Healdsburg, Calif. 18.31.

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