postheadericon Yaussi scores big for Rangers

Bo Yaussi, shown in this photo from 2016, finished second in the tie-down roping race this past weekend in Stillwater, Okla. He is second in the Central Plains Region standings. (PHOTO COURTESY OF BO YAUSSI)

Bo Yaussi, shown in this photo from 2016, finished second in the tie-down roping race this past weekend in Stillwater, Okla. He is second in the Central Plains Region standings. (PHOTO COURTESY OF BO YAUSSI)

ALVA, Okla. – The deep red dirt that filled the arena at the Oklahoma State University rodeo this past weekend in Stillwater just got darker and thicker as the weekend wore on.

“It was bad,” said Bo Yaussi, a sophomore all-around cowboy at Northwestern Oklahoma State University from Udall, Kan. “The first performance was great. Then it rained, it got deep, and it rained again. It was pretty muddy, but everybody had to rope in it.”

Yaussi did better than most. He placed fourth in the opening round with a 9.3-second run. He finished second in the championship round and the average, scoring big points for himself and the Rangers.

“My theory on short rounds is to leave the arena leading it and make the rest come get me,” he said. “There were three guys after me, and the next guy to rope was long. The second to last guy beat me, and the last guy to rope, the guy that won the long round, missed.”

His plan paid off, but he also had some help. Three Rangers tie-down ropers were in the short round, and all three placed: Jeremy Carney placed fourth in the final round and the average, while Levi Walter placed fifth in both rounds and the average.”

Yaussi transferred Northwestern from North Central Texas College in Gainesville, and he’s now gotten his feet wet in the Central Plains Region. He is second in the tie-down roping standings, just behind teammate Riley Wakefield, and is 12th in the steer wrestling standings.

“This is a very tough region,” the Kansan said. “Team roping has been really tough, and there are a lot of freshman calf ropers that are roping really good. Bulldogging has also been very tough in this region.

“I’m from this area, so I know these arenas. It’s almost like rodeoing on my home turf.”

Aided by another solid performance in Stillwater, the Northwestern men’s team sits No. 2 in the Central Plains Region. The Rangers found limited, yet adequate success this past weekend. Sophomore Bridger Anderson, who qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo last season, placed in both rounds of steer wrestling and finishing as the runner-up.

Bradley Ralph won the first round and was sixth in the short round to finish sixth overall. Jace Rutledge tied Anderson and two other cowboys for a four-way tie for fifth place in the opening round. Anderson leads the bulldogging standings, while Ralph sits third.

Header Taylor Munsell finished fifth in team roping with her partner, Ean Price of Garden City (Kan.) Community College, while the Rangers team of Levi Walter and Jayden Johnson placed sixth overall. For the Northwestern women, barrel racers Kayla Copenhaver (first) and Baillie Wiseman (third) placed in the opening round. They were unable to have fast enough times in the final round to place overall.

But there are seven rodeos remaining on the 2018-19 season, one more set for Oct. 25-27 in Alva. That’s part of the attraction to compete at Northwestern for Yuassi.

“I wanted to go to a good all-around school, and I wanted to go to a place where I could get better at bulldogging,” he said. “You can’t go to a better place for that than Alva. Plus, it’s two and a half hours closer to home.”

Northwestern has been considered the top school in college rodeo for steer wrestling, thanks in large part to coach Stockton Graves, a seven-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier and Rangers alumnus.

“Stockton’s got the mental game down,” Yaussi said. “He’s been there and done that, and he knows how to win. Everything he says is from experience. He’s at bulldogging practice every day with us. He puts in a lot of work.”

Now in just his second year of college eligibility, he plans to compete for Northwestern for his final three years. Still, he has some big ideas for this year.

“My personal goal for this year is to make the college finals in calf roping and team roping,” Yaussi said. “We’re hanging right in there for the year-end championship. For the team, I would love to win the region. We’ve just got to keep going strong.”

postheadericon Roughstock event offers fun for all

Claremore's Extreme Roughstock will feature all three rodeo roughstock events, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding. The competition takes place Saturday at the Claremore Expo Center. (PHOTO BY PEGGY GANDER)

Claremore’s Extreme Roughstock will feature all three rodeo roughstock events, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding. The competition takes place Saturday at the Claremore Expo Center. (PHOTO BY PEGGY GANDER)

CLAREMORE, Okla. – After viewing it for the first time, organizer David Petty knew he wanted to make Claremore’s Extreme Roughstock a better experience for everyone.

That’s the plan for this year’s event, which is presented by the Kubota Center of Oklahoma, set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Claremore Expo Center. This year’s festivities will include all three rodeo roughstock events: Bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding.

“I wanted to make it a true roughstock event,” said Petty, noting that the proceeds will be used to benefit Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma. “I had a few guys call me wanting to include that to our show, so we decided to make it happen. We will add $5,000 in each of the events, which helps us attract the top contestants.”

That money will be mixed with the contestants’ entry fees to make up the total purse. But that’s not all that’s available. The event will also feature the Kubota Challenge Shootout, a head-to-head match with between two cowboys in each discipline.

“We’ll take the winner, then we’ll have a drawing of all the rest that are left, whether they placed second or bucked off right in out of the chute,” he said. “Whoever we draw will be part of the shootout, and it will be winner-take-all for the shootout’s $1,000 purse.”

That’s a unique feature to this world-class event. Dozens of the greatest stars in the game will put their names in the hat to battle for those dollars.

But Petty also upped the ante by adding celebrated rodeo clown Cody Sosebee and trick rider Haley Ganzel to the show to make for a better overall experience for the contestants, fans and sponsors.

“We do this for the community, and we want everyone to enjoy a night out in Claremore,” Petty said. “Cody has been nominated for PRCA Clown of the Year many times and was the barrelman at the National Finals Rodeo. He’s naturally funny.

“Haley is from Collinsville, and she does an amazing roman riding act that I think people from around here are going to love. She has been nominated for Act of the Year, which tells you that the cowboys love her act – they’re the ones who nominated her.”

In addition to the top cowboys and elite entertainers, Claremore’s Extreme Roughstock will have Andy Stewart calling the action. Stewart is recognized as one of the greatest announcers in the game. He has been nominated 10 times for Announcer of the Year.

“Andy adds so much to every event he works,” Petty said. “He understands our sport as well as anyone, and he knows about all the contestants. He helps make the overall production of our event even better.”

That’s just what fans in Claremore want to see.

“The word that came to us from the management staff at the expo and local residents is that it was one of the best events they’ve ever seen in the expo,” he said. “We want to keep making it better every year.”

They’re already planning to do that in Year 2.

postheadericon Gamble didn’t pay off in Bellville

J.T. Moore of Alvin, Texas, is bucked off his re-ride bull on Saturday night in Bellville, Texas. After scoring 80 points on his first bull and being offered a re-ride, Moore gambled to make an additional $800; instead, he left with zero. That's part of the gamble cowboys make, but it didn't pay off Saturday. (PHOTO BY PEGGY GANDER)

J.T. Moore of Alvin, Texas, is bucked off his re-ride bull on Saturday night in Bellville, Texas. After scoring 80 points on his first bull and being offered a re-ride, Moore gambled to make an additional $800; instead, he left with zero. That’s part of the gamble cowboys make, but it didn’t pay off Saturday. (PHOTO BY PEGGY GANDER)

BELLVILLE, Texas – Every gambler knows that once the dice go into the air, the numbers might not roll their way.

That was the case for bareback rider Winn Ratliff and bull rider J.T. Moore, both of whom scored qualified rides on their first trips out of the chute Saturday night at the Austin County Fair and Rodeo.

Ratliff’s 80-point ride on Mo Betta Rodeo’s Booger would have allowed the Leesville, La., cowboy to finish second in bareback riding. Moore’s 80-point ride on Mo Betta’s 507 would have held up for third place in bull riding. In both cases, the house won some of its money back from the cowboys.

“The re-ride I had was a (Mo Betta) horse named Darth that’s been to the National Finals,” said Ratliff, 29, a four-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier. “Bill Tutor was 84.5 points at Rosenberg (Texas) last weekend. I’ve had some history with that horse, and I’ve seen that horse a lot. When I knew he was the re-ride, I rolled the dice and took that gamble.

“That’s rodeo. If it was easy, everybody would do it.”

By accepting the re-rides, those 80-point rides were erased. Had Ratliff stayed with his, he would have pocketed $1,121. Instead, Darth had a bad day, and the tandem matched moves for just 74 points. That was good enough for fifth place. He gambled to make $350 more and lost $800.

“If you’ve got a horse that’s been to the NFR, you want that shot if you’re a competitor,” he said. “I came here to win this rodeo. When I had a free opportunity to get on another horse, I took it.”

Moore’s third-place finish would have netted him roughly $1,100. He gambled to win $800 more, then bucked off his re-ride bull and lost it all. That’s why it can sometimes be a difficult decision for cowboys to accept another chance.

But rodeo is a gamble. In the three roughstock events, half the score comes from the animals they ride. In Ratliff’s case, the big black horse was supposed to be better than he was Saturday night in Bellville. That’s just part of the game.

For his sake, though, the Louisiana cowboy is just happy to be back to work doing what he loves. He suffered a shattered pelvis two and a half years ago and is just getting back to where he can compete again.

“I feel really confident in my health,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of questions if I’m going hard again next year and try to make it back to the NFR, but I’m going to pray about it. I’ve really enjoyed being home. That’s the one blessing when you’re injured; you get to spend a lot of family time. I’ve got a 3-year-old daughter, and she needs her daddy, and I’ve got a little boy on the way in December.

“I’m blessed in what I’ve accomplished as a bareback rider. I’m enjoying every moment and having fun. But my priorities have changed, and it’s time to be a family man and a daddy.”

Sure, there is disappointment in Ratliff’s voice, but he understands the game well. He also knows his roles in both fatherhood and rodeo have changed over the years. He’s content with that.

“I’m thankful I get to go home, and there’s another rodeo next week,” Ratliff said.

Austin County Fair and Rodeo
Oct. 11-13
Bellville, Texas
Bareback riding:
1. Tim Murphy, 81.5 points on United Pro Rodeo’s Buckle Up, $1,480; 2. Zach Hibler, 79.5, $1,121; 3. Blade Elliott, 77.5, $807; 4. Sandro Ferretti, 74.5, $538; 5. Winn Ratliff, 74, $314; 6. Tyler David Johnson, 73, $224.

Steer wrestling: 1. Jacob Talley, 3.4 seconds, $1,665; 2. Heath Thomas, 4.5, $1,448; 3. (tie) A.D. Davis II and Lucas Brasfield, 4.6, $1,122 each; 5. (tie) Sam Powers and Dylan Shroeder, 4.7, $688 each; 7. Dakota Stermer, 5.2, $392; 8. Justin Shaffer, 5.4, $145.

Team roping: 1. Cory Kidd V/Martin Lucero, 4.7 seconds, $2,162; 2. Caleb Mitchell/Seth Smithson, 4.9, $1,880; 3. (tie) Garett Chick/Ross Ashford and Landon McClaugherty/Case Swaim, 5.0, $1,457 each; 5. Tanner Tomlinson/Corey Hedrick, 5.1, $1,034; 6. Shane Phillip/John Phillip, 6.2, $752; 7. Reno Cash Stoebner/Daniel Braman IV, 10.0, $470; 8. Manny Eguesquiza Jr./York Gill, 14.0, $188.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Parker Kempfer, 79 point on United Pro Rodeo’s Awsome Sauce, $1,502; 2. Taygen Schuelke, 74, $1,149; 3. Mason Laviolette, 71, $839; 4. Dusty Hausauer, 69, $574; 5. Curtis Garton, 68.5, $353; no other qualified rides.

Tie-down roping leaders: 1. Cody Lawrence, 8.4 seconds, $2,140; 2. (tie) De Andre Jackson and Justin Smith, 8.6, $1,722 each; 4. Lane Livingston, 8.8, $,1,303; 5. Justin Macha, 9.0, $1,024; 6. (tie) Austin Atkinson and Wyatt Imus, 9.5, $605 each;87. Coley Salge, 9.8, $186.

Barrel racing leaders: 1. Chloe Gray, 16.18 seconds, $2,630; 2. Kelly Carrington, 16.19, $2,236; 3. Tiany Schuster, 16.20, $1,841; 4. (tie) Tasha Welsh and Melinda Edwards Dunn, 16.26, $1,447 each; 6. Cheyenne Wimberley, 16.27, $921; 7. Jennifer Kalafatic, 16.31, $658; 8. (tie) Ericka Nelson, Taci Bettis and Jill Wilson, 16.32, $460 each; 11. Alex Lang, 16.35, $329; 12. (tie) Shelley Morgan and Ivy Hurst, 16.39, $132 each.

Steer roping: First round: 1. (tie) J. tom Fisher and Vin Fisher Jr., 10.2 seconds, $925 each; 3. Cole Patterson, 10.3, $633; 4. Tony Reina, 10.4, $489; 5. Trenton Johnson, 10.8, $314; 6. (tie) Mike Chase and Travis Mills, 10.9, $87 each. Second round: 1. (tie) Laramie Allen and Brodie Poppino, 10.0 seconds, $925 each; 3. Landon McClaugherty, 10.7, $489; 4. Trenton Johnson, 10.9, $489; 5. Corey Ross, 11.0, $314; 6. Cody Lee, 11.2, $175. Average: 1. Vin Fisher Jr., 21.5 seconds on two runs, $1,519; 2. Trenton Johnson, 21.7, $1,257; 3. John E. Bland, 22.3, $995; 4. Mike Chase, 23.0, $733; 5. Bryce Davis, 23.1, $471; 6. Travis Mills, 23.5, $262.

Bull riding: 1. Brody Yeary, 87.5 points on United Pro Rodeo’s Wonder Boy, $1,978; 2. Denton Fugate, 85, $1,523; 3. (tie) Jeff Askey and Jesse Petri, 77, $938; 5. Parker McCown, 76.5, $483; 7. Clayton Sellars, 76, $353; 7. Guthrie Murray, 75.5, $288; no other qualified rides.

postheadericon Champs eager to return to Claremore

Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Hardy Braden of Welch, Okla., was one of the first winners at the inaugural Claremore's Extreme Roughstock, and he hopes to defend his title. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Hardy Braden of Welch, Okla., was one of the first winners at the inaugural Claremore’s Extreme Roughstock, and he hopes to defend his title. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

CLAREMORE, Okla. – The inaugural Claremore’s Extreme Roughstock was a homecoming of sorts for several of the 2017 contestants, but it was more than that for two.

Kade Alberty, a bull rider who grew up in Claremore, and Hardy Braden, a saddle bronc rider from nearby Welch, Okla., walked away from last year’s event with at least a share of the championship in their discipline.

Alberty split the title with Andrew Alvidrez of Seminole, Texas, while Braden earned the bronc riding title outright. This year’s event – which is presented by the Kubota Center of Oklahoma and will take place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Claremore Expo Center – will also benefit the Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma and will include bareback riding.

“It was quite an honor to actually win it since it was the first time to put it on,” said Braden, a 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier. “I’m happy for it to be successful, and am really glad they’re having it again this year.”

He was one of several top cowboys in Claremore last fall, but organizers expect that number to increase this year with the inclusion of bareback riding. While the inaugural Claremore’s Extreme Roughstock was a hit 12 months ago, there is great anticipation for Oct. 27.

“It’s a really great thing for Claremore to have,” Braden said. “It’s something to go to after the regular season that has a good payout, and it’s about the right time before the finals for a good shot to get on good animals.”

The purse will also be attractive to contestants. Organizers are including $5,000 in local money in each event, which will be added to entry fees to make up the purse. That will offer the cowboys a chance at a nice payday.

In addition, the winners of each event will then be matched by one of the other cowboys in the field via random draw in the Kubota Challenge Shootout. The winner of that showdown in each event will earn $1,000, winner take all. That just adds to the intrigue of the event.

But there’s more incentive for the cowboys. Organizers plan to use multiple livestock providers, most of whom have been recognized on a national level for the ability of their bucking horses and bulls.

“The amount of different people that bring stock there is great,” Braden said. “That’s what attracts me to it. No matter whose herd you draw out of, you’re going to draw into the best pen of horses they have.

“With four or five stock contractors bringing their best stuff, it makes it really good for us, but it’s also good for the fans. They’re really going to enjoy it.”

postheadericon Young cowboy gaining lessons

Tim Murphy rides United Pro Rodeo's Buckle Up for 81.5 points Friday night to take the bareback riding lead at the Austin County Fair and Rodeo. (PHOTO BY PEGGY GANDER)

Tim Murphy rides United Pro Rodeo’s Buckle Up for 81.5 points Friday night to take the bareback riding lead at the Austin County Fair and Rodeo. (PHOTO BY PEGGY GANDER)

BELLVILLE, Texas – Wheeler is a town of 1,600 people in the Texas Panhandle. It’s dry and rugged, and it’s home to many cowboys.

Tim Murphy has lived there for three months, and that’s because he wanted to compete in rodeo for a living. On Friday night during the second performance of the Austin County Fair and Rodeo, he matched moves with United Pro Rodeo’s Buckle Up for 81.5 points to take the bareback riding lead.

“This is my first time in Bellville, but like it,” said Murphy, 21, originally from Simpsonville, S.C. “It’s a little bit humid, but I like it. I used to be used to humidity, but I’ve already gotten use to life in Wheeler.”

He has just begun his second season competing on his permit, a training ground for young cowboys who want to eventually compete in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

“I don’t think I’m ready to get my rookie card just yet,” he said. “I’m going to go one more year on my permit just to get the feel for things and make sure I’m ready.”

If his ride Friday night were any indication, Murphy is taking his lessons quite well. He’s living and traveling with Zach Hibler, the 2018 PRCA Rookie of the Year. It’s proved to be beneficial for the South Carolinian by birth.

“He’s a really good coach,” Murphy said of Hibler, who is second in Bellville with a 79.5-point ride. “He has helped me a lot the last few months and really progressed my bareback riding a bunch.”

That’s the key for the two young cowboys. Good or bad, every experience offers an opportunity to learn. Maturation is a great thing, but it can’t be rushed. That’s why Murphy will continue to compete on his permit to allow his brain and his body to grow into the position of professional bareback rider.

It’s not an easy life. Through most of the summer, cowboys are on the road for several weeks at a time. Whether it’s being strapped to wild bucking horses or sitting in a vehicle for 10 hours straight, bareback riding is hard on the body.

“I just love doing it,” he said. “We work out and try to stay in the best shape we can.”

And on Friday night, Murphy experienced the verbal crowd that packed into the Austin County Fairgrounds to see him and other contestants compete.

“Man, it’s an awesome crowd,” Murphy said. “They’re active, and I like it when a crowd gets into the rodeo.”

That means he’s likely to return.

Austin County Fair and Rodeo
Oct. 11-13
Bellville, Texas
Bareback riding:
1. Tim Murphy, 81.5 points on United Pro Rodeo’s Buckle Up; 2. Zach Hibler, 79.5; 3. Blade Elliott, 77.5; 4. Sandro Ferretti, 74.5; 5. Tyler David Johnson, 73; 6. (tie) Paden Hurst and Luke Wozney, 70.

Steer wrestling: 1. Jacob Talley, 3.4 seconds; 2. Heath Thomas, 4.5; 3. (tie) A.D. Davis II and Lucas Brasfield, 4.6; 5. Sam Powers, 4.7; 6. Dakota Stermer, 5.2; 7. Justin Shaffer, 5.4; 8. Tom Uttermark, 6.2.

Team roping: 1. Cory Kidd V/Martin Lucero, 4.7 seconds; 2. Caleb Mitchell/Seth Smithson, 4.9 3. (tie) Garett Chick/Ross Ashford and Landon McClaugherty/Case Swaim, 5.0; 5. Tanner Tomlinson/Corey Hedrick, 5.1; 6. Shane Phillip/John Phillip, 6.2; 7. Stratton Lopez/Ronnie Lopez, 12.1; 8. Manny Eguesquiza Jr./York Gill, 14.0.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Parker Kempfer, 79 point on United Pro Rodeo’s Ausome Sauce; 2. Taygen Schuelke, 74; 3. Dusty Hausauer, 69; no other qualified rides.

Tie-down roping leaders: 1. Cody Lawrence, 8.4 seconds; 2. (tie) De Andre Jackson and Justin Smith, 8.6; 4. Lane Livingston, 8.8; 5. Justin Macha, 9.0; 6. Austin Atkinson, 9.5; 7. Coley Salge, 9.8; 8. Trenton Smith, 9.9.

Barrel racing leaders: 1. Chloe Gray, 16.18 seconds; 2. Kelly Carrington, 16.19; 3. Tiany Schuster, 16.20; 4. (tie) Tasha Welsh and Melinda Edwards Dunn, 16.26; 6. Cheyenne Wimberley, 16.27; 7. (tie) Ericka Nelson, Taci Bettis and Jill Wilson, 16.32; 10. Alex Lang, 16.35; 11. (tie) Shelley Morgan and Ivy Hurst, 16.39.

Steer roping: First round: 1. (tie) J. tom Fisher and Vin Fisher Jr., 10.2 seconds, $925 each; 3. Cole Patterson, 10.3, $633; 4. Tony Reina, 10.4, $489; 5. Trenton Johnson, 10.8, $314; 6. (tie) Mike Chase and Travis Mills, 10.9, $87 each. Second round: 1. (tie) Laramie Allen and Brodie Poppino, 10.0 seconds, $925 each; 3. Landon McClaugherty, 10.7; 4. Trenton Johnson, 10.9, $489; 5. Corey Ross, 11.0, $314; 6. Cody Lee, 11.2, $175. Average: 1. Vin Fisher Jr., 21.5 seconds on two runs, $1,519; 2. Trenton Johnson, 21.7, $1,257; 3. John E. Bland, 22.3, $995; 4. Mike Chase, 23.0, $733; 5. Bryce Davis, 23.1, $471; 6. Travis Mills, 23.5, $262.

Bull riding: 1. Brody Yeary, 87.5 points on United Pro Rodeo’s Wonder Boy; 2. Denton Fugate, 85; 3. (tie) Jeff Askey and Jesse Petri, 77; 5. Parker McCown, 76.5; 6. Clayton Sellars, 76.

postheadericon Lucero, Kidd rope Bellville lead

Martin Lucero, left, and Cory Kidd V took the team roping lead at the Austin County Fair and Rodeo after stopping the clock in 4.7 seconds Thursday night. (PHOTO BY PEGGY GANDER)

Martin Lucero, left, and Cory Kidd V took the team roping lead at the Austin County Fair and Rodeo after stopping the clock in 4.7 seconds Thursday night. (PHOTO BY PEGGY GANDER)

BELLVILLE, Texas – For 27 years, Martin Lucero has been one of the best heelers in team roping. He’s qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo 16 times in his career.

But at age 50, he’s contemplating his next step in the sport.

“I’m getting older now, and I’m not sure I’m going to run hard next year,” said Lucero, who stopped the clock in 4.7 seconds Thursday night to take the team roping lead at the Austin County Fair and Rodeo with his header, Cory Kidd V of Statesville, N.C. “I’m still on the fence about it. I’ve got two daughters, one that’s a junior in high school and one that’s in second grade, so I like being home, too.

“It’s nice to be able to come to a good rodeo like this and still go home.”

It was an easy decision to make the seven-hour trip to Bellville.

“These rodeos have gotten better as far as the added money,” Lucero said, referring to the local money that’s mixed with contestants’ entry fees to make up the purse. “You can win a lot more money than we used to.”

Bellville’s rodeo takes place in the second week of the 2019 rodeo season, so this is a good way to catch some early money and get a jump on the field if possible. That’s one of the reasons Kidd likes competing at this event.

“I catch; I’m winning now, and I’ve won it before,” said Kidd, who set the arena record of 3.8 seconds two years. “They get a bunch of people. It’s a good atmosphere, and I like it.”

Kidd and Lucero don’t compete together often, but they made an exception for a few Texas rodeos this time of year. While Kidd is from North Carolina, he spends quite a bit of time at Lucero’s home, so it was a natural fit.

“Some people are ready to go home and rest after the regular season ends, but I’m ready to get back after it,” Kidd said. “You never know; the money you win here might be what pushes you over the edge and gets you to the NFR.”

Lucero knows that as well as anyone. He’s been to Bellville’s rodeo almost all of his nearly three decades of competing, and he’s won the title before

“This is a good rodeo, and it’s a good one that’s in our circuit,” he said of the Texas Circuit. I like the set-up, and it gets a good crowd every night. This is a new year, and the circuit finals is obviously the goal. As hard as it is to win in this competitive circuit, it’s good to win early.”

Austin County Fair and Rodeo
Oct. 11-13
Bellville, Texas
Bareback riding:
1. Blade Elliott, 77.5 points on Mo Betta Rodeo’s Booger; 2. Sandro Ferretti, 74.5; 3. Tyler David Johnson, 73; 4. (tie) Paden Hurst and Luke Wozney, 70; no other qualified rides.

Steer wrestling: 1. Heath Thomas, 4.5 seconds; 2. Lucas Brasfield, 4.6; 3. Sam Powers, 4.7; 4. Dakota Stermer, 5.2; 5. Tom Uttermar, 6.2; 6. T.J. Hall, 7.3.

Team roping: 1. Cory Kidd V/Martin Lucero, 4.7 seconds; 2. Caleb Mitchell/Seth Smithson, 4.9 3. (tie) Garett Chick/Ross Ashford and Landon McClaugherty/Case Swaim, 5.0; 5. Tanner Tomlinson/Corey Hedrick, 5.1; 6. Shane Phillip/John Phillip, 6.2; 7. Manny Eguesquiza Jr./York Gill, 14.0; no other qualified times.

Saddle bronc riding: No qualified rides.

Tie-down roping leaders: 1. Cody Lawrence, 8.4 seconds; 2. De Andre Jackson, 8.6; 3. Lane Livingston, 8.8; 4. Austin Atkinson, 9.5; 5. Coley Salge, 9.8; 6. Trenton Smith, 9.9; 7. Carson Jeffrey, 10.1; 10. Reno Gonzales, 10.3.

Barrel racing leaders: 1. Chloe Gray, 16.18 seconds; 2. Kelly Carrington, 16.19; 3. Tiany Schuster, 16.20; 4. Melinda Edwards Dunn, 16.26; 5. Cheyenne Wimberley, 16.27; 6. (tie) Ericka Nelson, Taci Bettis and Jill Wilson, 16.32; 9. Alex Lang, 16.35; 10. (tie) Shelley Morgan and Ivy Hurst, 16.39; 12. Jimmie Smith, 16.41. s

Steer roping: First round: 1. (tie) J. tom Fisher and Vin Fisher Jr., 10.2 seconds, $925 each; 3. Cole Patterson, 10.3, $633; 4. Tony Reina, 10.4, $489; 5. Trenton Johnson, 10.8, $314; 6. (tie) Mike Chase and Travis Mills, 10.9, $87 each. Second round: 1. (tie) Laramie Allen and Brodie Poppino, 10.0 seconds, $925 each; 3. Landon McClaugherty, 10.7; 4. Trenton Johnson, 10.9, $489; 5. Corey Ross, 11.0, $314; 6. Cody Lee, 11.2, $175. Average: 1. Vin Fisher Jr., 21.5 seconds on two runs, $1,519; 2. Trenton Johnson, 21.7, $1,257; 3. John E. Bland, 22.3, $995; 4. Mike Chase, 23.0, $733; 5. Bryce Davis, 23.1, $471; 6. Travis Mills, 23.5, $262.

Bull riding: 1. (tie) Jeff Askey, on Mo Betta Rodeo’s Junior, and Jesse Petri, on Mo Betta Rodeo’s 507, 77 points; 3. Clayton Sellars, 76; no other qualified rides.

postheadericon Ganzel ready to ride in Claremore

Haley Ganzel will perform her trick-riding show during Claremore's Extreme Roughstock on Saturday, Oct. 7, at the Claremore Expo Center. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HALEY GANZEL)

Haley Ganzel will perform her trick-riding show during Claremore’s Extreme Roughstock on Saturday, Oct. 7, at the Claremore Expo Center. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HALEY GANZEL)

CLAREMORE, Okla. – Haley Ganzel was just 4 years old when she decided on her career.

She didn’t really know it at the time, but the love affair with trick riding blossomed quickly as she watched her uncle, Shawn Brackett, practice. So, she got the right training. At age 5, she worked her first rodeo. A year later, she worked her first event in ProRodeo.

Now she will bring her talents to Claremore’s Extreme Roughstock presented by the Kubota Center of Oklahoma, set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Claremore Expo Center. The event serves as a fundraiser for Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma.

“I’m so excited, because I get to have all my family there,” said Ganzel, who lives in Collinsville, Okla., just 24 miles west of Claremore. “It’s going to be a fun event right here close to home.”

Claremore’s Extreme Roughstock features many of the top bareback riders, saddle bronc riders and bull riders in rodeo, but it’s also going to be the perfect place for Ganzel to show off her roman riding talent. She will also share the stage with Cody Sosebee, one of the top rodeo clowns in the game.

In fact, both Sosebee and Ganzel are up for year-end awards in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Sosebee is one of five nominees for Clown of the Year. Ganzel, with her partner, Lindy Nealey, is nominated for Dress Act of the Year as The Cowgirl Sweethearts.

“It’s such an honor to be nominated,” Ganzel said. “My uncle worked the NFR four times and was never nominated, so I realize what a special honor this is. Everyone on that list has really paid their dues.

“To be on that list with all those people and the legends is amazing.”

She has paid hers since she was a youngster, but that’s because she fell in love with trick riding. She began roman riding when she was 8, riding on the backs of ponies. She and her partner started when Ganzel was 10 and Nealey was 13, then began working in earnest five years later.

“I didn’t know I loved it so much until I got my team four years ago,” she said of the two horses on which she stands and rides. “That makes it so much better.”

Sosebee has been nominated for Clown of the Year seven times and last year was selected to be the barrelman at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

“I am very humbled by it, because I automatically thought of the guys who had come before me who had never been selected to work the finals,” he said. “There’s no way to describe it, because the guys voted for it. I can take that with me forever.

“It 10 times everything for me. It was 10 times more work than I thought. It was 10 times more fun than I thought. I just tried to soak it all up. I knew I was getting to do something special.”

Now he returns to Claremore to help entertain fans during one of the coolest events to hit Rogers County this year. That’s just what everybody needs.

postheadericon Bullfighters earn spot in finale

Wacey Munsell, foreground, gains a bull’s attention at a rodeo earlier this year while fighting bulls with Dusty Tuckness in Dodge City, Kan. Munsell will join Nathan Harp as the bullfighters at the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo next week in Duncan, Okla.

Wacey Munsell, foreground, gains a bull’s attention at a rodeo earlier this year while fighting bulls with Dusty Tuckness in Dodge City, Kan. Munsell will join Nathan Harp as the bullfighters at the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo next week in Duncan, Okla.

DUNCAN, Okla. – Through much of their careers, Nathan Harp and Wacey Munsell have been considered two of the best in their field.

Their business is rodeo, and they are two of the greatest athletes in the game. As bullfighters, they use their bodies, athleticism and any other means necessary to keep everyone in the arena safe during bull riding. It’s a dangerous task, but they’re up for it.

That’s why Munsell and Harp have been selected to be the bullfighters for the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18-Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Stephens County Arena in Duncan. It is the second straight year the two will work inside the arena together, but both have been part of the regional finale multiple times before.

By being selected, it is recognition that the two men are very good at their jobs.

The primary duty is to protect the cowboys directly after they dismount the bull, whether by sure-fire escape after a qualifying ride or by the animal’s discharge. But there are others in the arena, and it’s the bullfighters’ task to keep them all out of harm’s way.

“The quality of cowboys in our circuit is really good,” said Munsell, 32, of Ulysses, Kan. “If you can make the circuit finals, I think you could do just as well at the NFR. As a bullfighter, getting votes from that quality of cowboy means a lot. It’s a big honor.”

It takes true athleticism to handle a bullfighter’s load effectively. They will work together, gain the animals’ attention and finish by utilizing their athletic ability to remain out of harm’s way.

Both men have worked some of the biggest events in ProRodeo. Both were raised in the region, so they comprehend the talent level that sits inside the Prairie Circuit. It doesn’t get much better than seeing all the top cowboys competing inside Stephens County Arena.

“What makes the circuit finals great is the quality, both contestants and stock,” Munsell said. “There are a lot of horses and bulls that have been to the NFR, so you know we’re going to have top-quality stock. The circuit usually produces really good cowboys, and a lot are NFR caliber.

“When you have that, it makes for a great rodeo.”

postheadericon McClaugherty takes tie-down title

HEMPSTEAD, Texas – Landon McClaugherty has been one of the top all-around cowboys in rodeo for a long time, and he approaches the game the best way possible.

He focuses on one event at a time, even if he’s making multiple runs in a single day. That came in quite handy Saturday night during the final performance of the 2018 Waller County Fair and Rodeo, when he roped and tied his calf in 7.2 seconds to win the tie-down roping in Hempstead.

“They had great calves this year,” said McClaugherty of Tilden, Texas. The calf roping was really tough, so I just used the calf I had to the best of my abilities. I didn’t really know much about him. He looked really good, so I just ran at him like he was a good one, and it worked out.”

Landon McClaugherty

Landon McClaugherty

By winning the crown, he pocketed $2,292. That will move him into a nice position early in the 2019 season, which began Oct. 1 and runs through next Sept. 30. It’s a good way to start the new season. He finished last season No. 34 in the all-around standings, 25th in the steer roping standings.

He also placed in a round of steer roping in Hempstead on Saturday morning. That enabled McClaugherty to finish second in the all-around race at the Waller County Fair and Rodeo. Clayton Hass of Stephenville won the all-around title by winning steer wrestling and also placing seventh in team roping with partner Boogie Ray. Hass pocketed $3,050 and also earned an AR15 rifle for being the all-around champ.

“Any check is a good check,” said McClaugherty, who has to pay an entry fee for every event in which he competes. “When you’ve got that much invested in fees, you’ve got to win something. Entering in more than one event gives you more chances to win money. That’s always a plus.”

He typically adds team roping to his competitive mix, but because his partner couldn’t make the trip, McClaugherty had to opt out of that event. Still, he was able to secure a key win with the help of his equine partner, Chigger, a 19-year-old flaxen maned sorrel mare.

“She’s the only calf roping horse I’ve got,” he said. “She’s just pretty honest. She scores good and stops straight, and that just lets you rope.”

That’s something the Texas cowboy needs, no matter the event.

Waller County Fair and Rodeo
Oct. 4-6
Hempstead, Texas
All-around cowboy:
1. Clayton Hass, $3,050 in team roping and steer wrestling.

Bareback riding: 1. Bill Tutor, 83 points on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Bright Lights, $1,874; 2. R.C. Landingham, 82, $1,419; 3. Winn Ratliff, 79, $1,022; 4. Paden Hurst, 78.5, $681; 5. Zach Hibler, 77, $397; 6. (tie) Leighton Berry and Tim Murphy, 73.5, $142 each.

Steer wrestling: 1. Clayton Hass, 3.4 seconds, $2,032; 2. Jason Thomas, 3.7, $1,767; 3. Rowdy Thomas, 4.4, $1,502; 4. Cade Staton, 4.5, $1,237; 5. Kodie Jang, 4.6, $972; 6. (tie) Justin Shaffer and Matt Reeves, 4.8, $574 each; 8. (tie) Bill Pace and Blake Mindemann, 4.9, $88 each.

Team roping: 1. Clay Tryan/Travis Graves, 4.6 seconds, $2,762; 2. Lane Ivy/Buddy Hawkins II, 4.8, $2,471; 3. (tie) Dustin Egusquiza/Kory Koontz and Caleb Mitchell/Seth Smithson, 5.0, $2,035 each; 5. (tie) Laramie Allen/McCoy Profili and Lightning Agueilera/Ty Arnold, 5.4, $1,453 each; 7. Clayton Hass/Boogie Ray, 5.6, $1,017; 8. Garett Chick/Ross Ashford, 5.8, $727; 9. Chance Oftedahl/Iceman Miller, 5.9, $436; 10. Brandon Gonzales/Michael Tash, 6.3, $145.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Jacobs Crawley, 86 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Miss Congeniality, $1,816; 2. Wyatt Casper, 83.5, $1,392; 3. (tie) Garet Aldridge and Isaac Diaz, $878 each, 82; 7. Dean Wadsworth, 77.5, $424; 6. Jarrod Hammons, 74, $303; 7. Josh Davison, 73, $242; 8. Parker Fleet, 72.5, $182.

Tie-down roping leaders: 1. Landon McClaugherty, 7.2 seconds, $2,292; 2. Austin Atkinson, 7.5, $1,993; 3. Cory Solomon, 7.9, $1,694; 4. Monty Lewis, 8.0, $1,395; 5. Shane Hanchey, 8.1, $1,096; 6. Ty Harris, 8.2, $797; 7. Scott Kormos, 8.3, $498; 8. Ricky Canton, 8.4, $199.

Barrel racing leaders: 1. Cheyenne Wimberley, 14.54 seconds, $2,632; 2. Taci Bettis, 14.59, $2,237; 3. Angela Ganter, 14.72, $1,842; 4. Stephanie Fryar, 14.75, $1,579; 5. Jimmie Smith, 14.78, $1,316; 6. Jill Wilson, 14.80, $921; 7. Janet Staton, 14.84, $658; 8. Zoe Braman, 14.88, $658; 9. (tie) Shelley Morgan and Becky Maass, 14.91, $428 each; 11. Jennifer Sharp, 14.96, $329; 12. Tammy Fischer, 14.98, $263.

Steer roping: First round: 1. Trevor Brazile, 9.3 seconds, $1,127; 2. Jason Evans, 9.8, $932; 3. Vin Fisher Jr., 9.9, $738; 4. J.P. Wickett, 10.2, $544; 5. Roger Branch, 10.5, $350; 6. Blake Deckard, 10.8, $194. Second round: 1. (tie) Jeff Wheelis and Tuf Cooper, 10.5 seconds, $1,030 each; 3. Trey Wallace, 11.2, $738; 4. Chet Herren, 11.9, $544; 5. Landon McClaugherty, 12.1, $250; 6. Kelton McMillen, 12.8, $194. Third round: 1. Travis Mills, 9.8 seconds, $1,127; 2. Shay Good, 10.1, $932; 3. J. Tom Fisher, 10.5, $738; 4. Jason Evans, 10.6, $544; 5. Trevor Brazile, 10.8, $350; 6. (tie) Vin Fisher Jr. and Neal Wood, 11.7, $97 each. Average: 1. Jason Evans, 33.6 seconds on three runs, $1,690; 2. Trevor Brazile, 34.3, $1,399; 3. Blake Deckard, 39.5, $1,107; 4. Brian Garr, 40.3, $816; 5. Chet Herren, 40.5, $525; 6. Fred Brown, 45.2, $291.

Bull riding: 1. Bayle Worden, 86 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Kracker Jack, $2,538; 2. (tie) Scottie Knapp and Denton Fugate, 84, $1,692 each, 4. (tie) Dakota Louis and Cody Rostockyj, 83.5, $761 each; 6. (tie) Dalan Duncan and Jeff Askey, 83, $381 each; 8. Aaron Pass, 82.5, $254.

postheadericon Tutor rides into Hempstead lead

HEMPSTEAD, Texas – For Bill Tutor, the pressure of competition never really leaves. He’s just fine with that.

Five days ago, he wrapped up the 2018 regular season by earning nearly $120,000 through Sept. 30. He’s No. 5 in the bareback riding world standings and is headed to his second straight Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

But it all started over on Friday night during the second performance of the Waller County Fair and Rodeo, where he matched moves with Bright Lights of the Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo string for 83 points to take the bareback riding lead in Hempstead.

Bill Tutor

Bill Tutor

“That horse is fast and electric, and you’ve really got to keep up with her,” said Tutor, 27, of Huntsville, Texas. “I felt like I was a touch behind, like I was trying to catch up the whole time. It was a battle. I wasn’t in as complete control as I wanted to be, but it’s good to be sitting first.”

He’ll have to wait for Saturday night’s final performance to see if his score holds up for the win, but he recognizes that getting a good start on the 2019 regular season is vital, even if he hasn’t quite completed this campaign – he will compete in ProRodeo’s championship over 10 December nights in Las Vegas, which features the greatest purse in the game. It’s where the world champions will be crowned.

“This time of year is important to me,” he said. “It’s hard, because you just get done. I went to 100 rodeos this past year, and you’ve got to continue it the next weekend. Getting a jump on the new year is big to me, so I’m not going to let that advantage slip away from me.

“The season never really ends. These are good rodeos going on right now, and they’re in my backyard. November will be the time for me to rest a little bit and let the body heal.”

Tutor has much to look forward to yet in 2018. Nightly go-round winners will pocket more than $26,000 over the 10-night championship. He has a big chance at a big payday in the Nevada desert, but he has business to tend to first.

“You’ve got to look forward to next season,” Tutor said. “The goal is to make it back to the finals in 2019, and you’ve got to capitalize on the opportunities you have, and those are right now.”

It’s also important for Tutor to maintain his level of competitiveness as he prepares for the NFR.

“Even now, you have to do your best every ride,” he said. “It’s a confidence game. If you’re riding good your confidence is high. I want to be very confident heading into the finals.”

If Friday night is any indication, Tutor is as ready as he needs to be for ProRodeo’s grand finale.

Waller County Fair and Rodeo
Oct. 4-6
Hempstead, Texas
Bareback riding:
1. Bill Tutor, 83 points on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Bright Lights; 2. Winn Ratliff, 79; 3. Paden Hurst, 78.5; 4. Zach Hibler, 77; 5. Leighton Berry, 73.5; no other qualified scores

Steer wrestling: 1. Clayton Hass, 3.4 seconds; 2. Jason Thomas, 3.7; 3. Rowdy Thomas, 4.4; 4. Cole Staton, 4.5; 5. Kodie Jang, 4.6; 6. (tie) Justin Shaffer and Matt Reeves, 4.8; 8. Blake Mindemann, 4.9.

Team roping: 1. Clay Tryan/Travis Graves, 4.6 seconds; 2. Lane Ivy/Buddy Hawkins II, 4.8; 3. Caleb Mitchell/Seth Smithson, 5.0; 4. Laramie Allen/McCoy Profili, 5.4; 5. Clayton Hass/Boogie Ray, 5.6; 6. Garett Chick/Ross Ashford, 5.8; 7. Chance Oftedahl/Iceman Miller, 5.9; 8. Brandon Gonzales/Michael Tash, 6.3; 9. Joe Beaver/Cody Thornton, 6.6; 10. Chuck Doebbler/Randall Eggmeyer, 6.7.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Jacobs Crawley, 86 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Miss Congeniality; 2. Garet Aldridge, 82; 3. Dean Wadsworth, 77.5; 4. Jarrod Hammons, 74; 5. Parker Fleet, 72.5; no other qualified rides.

Tie-down roping leaders: 1. Monty Lewis, 8.0 seconds; 2. Shane Hanchey, 8.1; 3. Ty Harris, 8.2; 4. Scott Kormos, 8.3; 5. Ricky Canton, 8.4; 6. Bobby Abernathy, 8.5; 7. Tuf Cooper, 8.6; 8. Cooper Mathews, 8.7.

Barrel racing leaders: 1. Chenne Wimberley, 14.54 seconds; 2. Lauren Crawley, 14.56; 3. Taci Bettis, 14.59; 4. Angela Ganter, 14.72; 5. Jimmie Smith, 14.78; 6. Jill Wilson, 14.80; 7. Janet Staton, 14.84; 8. Zoe Braman, 14.88; 9. (tie) Shelley Morgan and Becky Maass, 14.91; 11. Jennifer Sharp, 14.96; 12. Tammy Fischer, 14.98.

Bull riding: 1. Bayle Worden, 86 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Kracker Jack; 2. (tie) Scottie Knapp, Dakota Louis and Cody Rostockyj, 83.5; 5. (tie) Dalan Duncan and Jeff Askey, 83; 7. Aaron Pass, 82.5; 8. Gavin Michel, 82.

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