Whitaker Hoping for Big Payday at “Daddy of ‘em All”

By: Susan Kanode

Kyle Whitaker of Bozeman, Mont., wrestled his steer in 7.1 seconds to win Quarter Finals 4 at the 127th Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo on Tuesday. Whitaker, who has won pro rodeo’s prestigious Linderman Award, an honor reserved for all-around hands who win more than $1,000 in both a rough stock and a timed event in a single season, a record 10 times. PRCA photo by Click Thompson

CHEYENNE, Wyo.Cheyenne Frontier Days is known for taking rodeo contestants out of their comfort zones.

Frontier Days boasts a big arena and animals have a lot of ground to cover. Nowhere is that more evident than in the timed events and it often takes a “never quit” mentality to get the job done. No one knows that better than Kyle Whitaker who has been a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association since 1995. Whitaker moved to the top of the leaderboard in steer wrestling with a 7.1-second run and is moving onto the Semi Finals.

The Nebraska native has been coming to Cheyenne nearly every year since then and in the early days would also enter the tie-down roping and saddle bronc riding. His prowess in rough stock and timed events has earned him the prestigious Linderman Award a record six times.

Now when he competes, he specializes in steer wrestling and that paid off for him here. He now lives in Bozeman, Montana, where he works as the rodeo coach at Montana State University. If his success here continues, he could win his first championship at the “Daddy of ‘em All.”

Tuesday’s saddle bronc riding competition was extremely competitive with a star-studded field, but the riders had their challenges in the big arena as well. Shorty Garrett, from Eagle Butte, South Dakota, ended up at the top of the board with 85.5-point ride on his second horse of the day. He got on a re-ride after an equipment failure and made the best of it. His success came aboard Stace Smith Rodeo’s horse named Levi the Boss.

Shorty Garrett of Eagle Butte, S.D., made the most of a re-ride opportunity, winning Tuesday’s saddle bronc riding at the 127th Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo (CFD). His 88-point ride on Stace Smith Rodeo’s Levi The Boss to win Quarter Finals 3. He’s currently ranked 16th in the world championship standings so success at CFD could help him qualify for his second Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. PRCA photo by Jackie Jensen

Lefty Holman from Visalia, California, and Orin Larsen from Inglis, Manitoba, both kept their momentum going here. Last Sunday, Holman was crowned bareback champion and Larsen won the saddle bronc riding at California Rodeo Salinas. They both will be advancing to the Semi Finals here after finishing second in their respective events.

The bareback riding winner was Bill Tutor from Huntsville, Texas, who has one Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualification to his credit. Tutor was one-half point ahead of Larsen at 85 on Rocky Mountain Rodeo’s Cracked Pepper. Larsen also won the bareback riding in Frontier Park in 2016.

Fresh from a win on Sunday at the California Rodeo in Salinas and a June college rodeo championship, Taycie Matthews of Wynne, Ark., won Quarter Finals 4 in barrel racing at Cheyenne Frontier Days. Her time of 17.70 seconds advanced her to the Semi Finals this weekend at Frontier Park. PRCA photo by Click Thompson

Taycie Matthews from Wynne, Arkansas is another Salinas champion who competed here today. The reigning National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association champion is loving being in Wyoming again. She won her college title in Casper last month. Matthews, who is a junior at the University of West Alabama, was 11th in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association world standings in mid-July and is hoping to secure her first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualification. A win here would certainly help her do that.

Quarter Finals 5 begins on Wednesday at 12:45 where new contestants in every event will be vying for their spots in the Semi Finals.

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