Rodeo Off to Rousing Start at National Western Stock Show

By: Susan Kanode

Wrangler National Finals Rodeo barrel racing qualifier, Ilyssa Riley from Hico, Texas is looking for a win at the National Western Stock Show. Riley stopped the clock in 15.20 seconds to have the fast time of the night by a tenth of a second. NWSS photo by Ric Andersen.

DENVER, Colo. — Fans at the first performance of the National Western Stock Show Rodeo saw world champions, Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) qualifiers and area local contestants vying for fast times and high scores.

One of those competitors, Keenan Reed Hayes fit all three of those categories. Hayes, who is a native Coloradoan grew up in Hayden. He qualified for his first WNFR last December and left the event as the world champion. He scored 83 points in Denver Thursday night, good enough for second place. Louisiana’s Luke Thrash finished in first with 84.

The fast time in steer wrestling was Rope Smith from Killdeer, N.D., who stopped the clock in 4.3. seconds. Team ropers Cyle Denison, from Iowa, Louisiana and Dustin Davis from Terrell, Texas, are at the top of the leaderboard with 6.7 seconds.

Rising star saddle bronc rider Cable James Wareham, from Whiting, Kansas, finished in first with an 85-point ride on Generations Pro Rodeo’s horse named Dough Boy. And another up and comer, Canyon Wiley Bass from Johnson city, Texas did the same in the bull riding. He scored 85.5 points on Big Rafter Rodeo’s 7 R Watson.

The highlight of the night for many was watching WNFR barrel racer Ilyssa Riley from Hico, Texas blow by the rest of the barrel racers. Riley, who finished the 2023 season in 13th place took her horse around the cloverleaf pattern in 15.20 seconds topping the rest of the field by a tenth of a second, a good margin in an event that is timed in hundredths of seconds.

All of these contestants have their second competition in the Denver Coliseum on Friday, Jan. 12, at the matinee performance beginning at 1:30 p.m. Then a new group will have their first round at the evening performance beginning at 7 p.m.

DENVER, Colo. — The following are results from the PRCA and WPRA rodeo at the National Western Stock Show Rodeo, Thursday, January 11, 2024.

First Performance —

Bareback Riding: 1, Luke Thrash, Bastrop, La., 84 points on Big Rafter Rodeo’s Dark Rose. 2, Keenan Reed hayes, Hayden, Colo., 83. 3, Nick Pelke, Mondovi, Wis., 82. 4, Ethan Crouch, Gonzales, Texas, 78.

Steer Wrestling: 1, Rope Smith, Killdeer, N.D., 4.3 seconds. 2, Traver Johnson, Eltopia, Wash., 4.4. 3, Seth Peterson, Wellington, Colo., 6.0. 3, Darcy Kersh, Charters Towers, Australia, 6.22.

Team Roping: 1, Cyle Denison, Iowa, La., and Dustin Davis, Terrell, Texas, 6.7 seconds. 2, Curry Kirchner, Ames, Okla., and L.J. Yeahquo, Mandaree, N.D., 11.5. 3, Colby Siddoway, Corinne, Utah, and Caleb Hendrix, Fallon, Nev., 15.6. 4, Trey Blackmore, Hillsade, Ariz., and Whip Peterson, San Simon, Ariz., 20.4.

Saddle Bronc Riding: 1, Cable James Wareham, Whiting, Kan., 85 points on Generations Pro Rodeo’s Dough Boy. 2, Cort Scheer, Elsmere, Neb., 79. 3, K’s Thompson, Lundbreck, Alberta, 75. 4, Coleman Shallbetter, Gunnison, Colo., 71.

Tie-Down Roping: 1, Austin Hurlburt, Norfolk, Neb., 8.2 seconds. 2, Tom Crouse, Gallatin, Mo., 9.5. 3, Zaine Mikita, Byers, Colo., 10.7. 4, Quade Hiatt, Canyon, Texas, 11.1.

Women’s Barrel Race: 1, Ilyssa Riley, Hico, Texas, 15.20 seconds. 2, Lucy Bowns, Evanston, Wyo., 15.30. 3, Paige Conrado, Hico, Texas, 15.35. 4, Kylie Kanngiesser, Attica, Kan., 15.43.

Bull Riding: 1, Canyon Bass, Johnson City, Texas, 85.5 points on Big Rafter Rodeo’s 7 R Watson. 2, Lukasey Morris, Union City, Okla., 82. 3, Deklan Garland, Marlow, Okla., 79. 4, Maverick Potter, Waxahachie, Texas, 76.

About the National Western Stock Show — Established in 1906, the National Western Stock Show is a 501(c) (3) charitable organization that provides college and graduate level scholarships in agricultural-related fields of study. Its mission is to serve producers and consumers throughout the world by being the premier stock show, equestrian competitions, and center for year-round events. The 16-day show also serves as an entertainment arena, hosting one of the world’s richest regular season professional rodeos, family and educational shows plus Colorado’s largest western trade show. For more information, visit

Related Content