Archive for May, 2011

postheadericon Dealing with Payne

Wade Payne is a bull rider and a ranch hand.

He’s also a cancer survivor.

Put everything together, and Payne has an interesting story to tell; the latter is the most provocative, because it’s been a whirlwind experience for the cowboy from Beaver, Okla.

Last spring, Payne was diagnosed with cancer, just about the time when he was supposed to be celebrating his 22nd birthday. It meant surgery and chemotherapy, and it was a scariest time of his life. But Payne fought, his smile piercing through the doubt, his swagger of confidence a banner he carried on the outside as he battled the disease.

“I don’t know if that helped me all that much, but I think my family was helped as much as anything by seeing me that way,” Payne said Saturday night after the second performance of the Will Rogers Stampede in Claremore, Okla. “They tried to act like it didn’t bother them or that it didn’t scare them – what I was going through – but I could see it.”

The reality is there was plenty of fear for Payne, his family and his friends. For cowboys, it isn’t about being fearless; life is about overcoming fear and doing everything possible to get the job done. That’s Payne’s approach, whether he’s climbing over the chutes and onto an 1,800-pound heap of muscle and flesh or whether he’s watching poison drip into a tube that’s attached his blood lines.

That’s a champion in my books.

postheadericon Riddle adds Claremore title to his strong 2011 campaign

CLAREMORE, Okla. – Caine Riddle wasn’t yet born when his dad, Rusty, qualified for the National Finals Rodeo for the final time.

That really doesn’t matter for the Vernon, Texas, cowboy; he’s still carrying on the family legacy quite well. On Sunday night, Riddle rode the Rafter H Rodeo Livestock’s Cat Ballou for 86 points to win the Will Rogers Stampede and $1,160.

“Yeah, this is the best year I’ve had to this point,” said Riddle, the 11th ranked bareback rider in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association standings. “I had about $1,000 won this time last year. This year I’ve hit a lick. Once you get a taste of winning, it makes you just try even harder. Once you get some big checks, it makes you want to take it a little more seriously.”

The money in Claremore will move Riddle’s 2011 earnings past $22,500. More importantly, it moves the cowboy ever closer to his first qualification to the NFR in Las Vegas.

“I don’t think there’s a better way to make a living than riding and spurring bucking horses,” he said. “The more experience you have, the better. I still learn stuff every day. I don’t take nothing for granted. It’s 150 percent effort every time.

“I try to stick to the basics, too. I think a lot of guys just get to thinking too much about it. If you just focus on your riding instead of where you are in the standings, you’ll do a lot better.”

It sounds like all those years of lessons have paid off. He has been around the sport all his life. In addition to his father, Riddle’s mother, Dollie, was born into the famed Beutler family, which has provided stock for and produced rodeos since 1929.

“Everybody knows my dad was a great bareback rider,” he said, noting that Rusty Riddle finished second in the world standings four times. “I don’t feel like have to prove anything. As long as I do the best that I can, I think I’ll be OK.”

He will. He’s still making a name for himself, but he’s doing it the right way. That’s just how Dean Gorsuch did when he broke out on the ProRodeo trail nine seasons ago. On Sunday, the two-time world champion from Gering, Neb., clinched the Will Rogers Stampede title for the first time in his career.

“It’s a good rodeo, but any rodeo you win is going to be a good rodeo,” said Gorsuch, a five-time NFR qualifier who is a regular fixture at the Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo. “It’s a good circuit rodeo. The circuit’s always important to me.”

A big reason is that his family can join him on the rodeo trail when he competes close to home. In Claremore, 6-year-old Taydon was on hand, and he’s joined by 2-year-old Trell and his wife, Bekah, when possible.

“The circuit’s a great place to start, too,” Gorsuch said. “You’ve got to start somewhere, and I like going to the circuit rodeos.”

Other 2011 Will Rogers Stampede champions are Trevor Brazile, all-around and steer roping; Brad Harrt, tie-down roping; Blake Hughes and Steve Orth, team roping; Carlee Pierce, barrel racing; and Trevor Kastner, bull riding.

 

Will Rogers Stampede
Claremore
, Okla.
Third performance
All-around champion

Trevor Brazile, $4,120, tie-down roping and steer and steer roping
Bareback riding
1. Caine Riddle, 86 points on Rafter H Rodeo Livestock’s Cat Ballou, $1,160; 2. Ty Breuer, 83, $879; 3. Matt Bright, 79, $632; 4. Bee Jay Scott and Bo Casper, 78, $334; 6. Tanner Aus, 72, $176.
Steer wrestling
1. Dean Gorsuch, 3.9 seconds, $1,661; 2. Ricky Riley, 4.2, $1,444; 3. Dru Melvin and Jacob Talley, 4.3, $1,119; 5. Brandon Volker, Zach Cobb and Trey Austin, 4.4, $578; 6. Chance Howard, 4.5, $144.
Saddle bronc riding
1. Jacobs Crawley, 80 points on Rafter H Rodeo Livestock’s Spade, $1,458; 2. Cody Angland, 79, $1,104; 3. Doug Aldridge and Jeremiah Diffee, 77, $663; 5. Hardy Braden and Jordan Corrigan, 76, $265.
Tie down roping
1. Brad Hartt, 7.8 seconds, $1,825; 2. Trevor Brazile, 8.1, $1,511; 3. Stetson Aldridge, 8.3, $1,196; 4. Chris Neal, 8.5, $881; 5. Trent Creager and Cole Bailey, 8.7, $441.
Team roping
1. Blake Hughes/Steve Orth, 5.2 seconds, $2,211; 2. Casper May/Derrick Peterson and Philip McCoy/Brandon Wright, 5.8, $1,862; 4. Troy Kitchener/Chad Mathes and Adam Newcomb/Chad Harper, 6.0, $1,397; 6. Nick Sartain/Kollin VonAhn, 6.1, $1,047; 7. Jimmy Tanner/Manny Egusquiza Jr., 6.2, $815; 8. Trey Robert Harmon/Braden Harmon, 6.3, $582; 9. Justin Turner/Ty Knott, Joshua Tores/Jonathan Torres and Keystone Morgan/Trevor Connolly, $155.
Barrel racing
1. Carlee Pierce, 16.96, $1,731; 2. Mary Burger, 17.04, $1,483; 3. Shelley Morgan, 17.11, $1,236; 4. Kaley Bass, 17.12, $1,071; 5. Donna Findlay, Tracy Nowlin and Jessi Eagleberger, 17.28, $659; 8. Sabra O’Quinn, 17.29, $330; 9. Laura Kennedy, 17.30, $247; 10. Robyn Herring, 17.31, $165.
Bull riding
1. Trevor Kastner, 87 points on Rafter H Rodeo Livestock’s Too Salty, $1,442; 2. L.J. Jenkins and Austin Ambrose, 82, $940; 4. Wade Payne, 80, $524; 5. Jeff Askey, 72, $306; 6. Rankin Lindsey, 69, $219.

postheadericon More photos from Claremore

I’ve uploaded more PHOTOS from the Will Rogers Stampede in Claremore, Okla.

Skydiver Bobby Reid parachutes into Will Rogers Stampede Arena on Saturday night during the opening of the second performance of the 65th edition of the Will Rogers Stampede.

Skydiver Bobby Reid parachutes into Will Rogers Stampede Arena on Saturday night during the opening of the second performance of the 65th edition of the Will Rogers Stampede.

postheadericon Florida man shows a lot of Hartt in leading tie-down roping

CLAREMORE, Okla. – Droughts are part of any sport, and the biggest factor in overcoming them is confidence.

Take Brad Hartt, a tie-down roper from Sebring, Fla. He’s been roping well; he just hasn’t done so well in securing that quality calf on which to compete. The animals and the contestants are matched together by a blind draw, and it hasn’t treated Harrt so well recently.

That changed Saturday night during the second performance of the Will Rogers Stampede, where Hartt posted a 7.8-second run to rip the lead from 14-time world champion Trevor Brazile. He’ll wait out about a dozen more cowboys for Sunday’s final performance, set for 7:30 p.m. at Will Rogers Stampede Arena.

“I just had a good calf,” said Hartt, a three-time Southeastern Circuit champion. “I’ve been waiting on him all week.”

That’s a testament to the sometimes-frustrating game cowboys play in the world of rodeo. But perseverance also is part of the equation. Hartt has stayed close to home for most of his eight-year career, but he’s finished in the top 50 in the tie-down roping standings three times.

That’s pretty good for a cowboy who has missed most of the last two years of competition.

“I just stayed home and worked,” said Hartt, who runs a 1,500-head cow-calf ranch. “I’ll go some this year.”

And like every man in the game, there are plenty of dreams of playing on its biggest stage, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

“That’s always my goal,” he said. “Right now, I just want to win my circuit again.”

Hartt wasn’t the only cowboy Saturday night who took the lead in his respective event. Bull rider Wade Payne of Beaver, Okla., rode Rafter H Rodeo Livestock’s Hot Wheels for 80 points to move atop the leaderboard in bull riding. Payne, who just last spring was diagnosed with cancer, is back to the business of rodeo.

“My plan this year is to go as much as I can and get my qualifications up,” said Payne, 23, noting that the top 45 cowboys in the final world standings earn the right to compete at most of the big-money rodeos for the following year. “I’d love to make the NFR this year, and if it works out, great. But I just want to be able to go to San Antonio and those rodeos next year.”

Bareback riding leaders
1. 1. Ty Breuer, 83 points on Western Trails’ Lorra Belle; 2. Tanner Aus, 72; 3. Blade Elliott, 69; 4. Nate Moore, 59; no other qualified rides.

Steer wrestling leaders
1. Ricky Riley, 4.2 seconds; 2. Dru Melvin and Jacob Talley, 4.3; 4. Zach Cobb and Trey Austin, 4.4; 6. Chance Howard, 4.5.

Saddle bronc riding leaders
1. Jacobs Crawley, 80 points on Rafter H Rodeo Livestock’s Spade; 2. Cody Angland, 79; 3. Doug Aldridge and Jeremiah Diffee, 77; 5. Hardy Braden and Jordan Corrigan, 76.

Tie down roping leaders
1. Brad Hartt, 7.8 seconds; 2. Trevor Brazile, 8.1; 3. Stetson Aldreidge, 8.3; 4. Chris Neal, 8.5; 5. Trent Creager and Cole Bailey, 8.7; 6. Payden Emmett, 9.0.

Team roping leaders
1. Blake Hughes/Steve Orth, 5.2 seconds; 2. Casper May/Derrick Peterson and Philip McCoy/Brandon Wright, 5.8; 4. Troy Kitchener/Chad Mathes and Adam Newcomb/Chad Harper, 6.0; 6. Nick Sartain/Kollin VonAhn, 6.1.

Barrel racing leaders
1. Carlee Pierce, 16.96; 2. Mary Burger, 17.04; 3. Shelley Morgan, 17.11 seconds; 4. Kaley Bass, 17.12; 5. Tracy Nowlin and Jessi Eagleberger, 17.28; 6. Sabra O’Quinn, 17.29; 7. Robyn Herring, 17.31; 8. Jeannie McKee, 17.32; 9. Tana Renick, 17.38; 10. Rachelle Holt, 17.45.

Bull riding Leaders
1. Wade Payne, 80 on Rafter H Rodeo’s Hot Wheels; 2. Jeff Askey, 72; 3. Corey Navarre, 68; no other qualified rides.

postheadericon Brazile snares Claremore steer roping title

CLAREMORE, Okla. – Trevor Brazile owns the most prestigious record in ProRodeo with his eight all-around world championships.

Trevor Brazile

Trevor Brazile

He’s closing in on several more.

Brazile, of Decatur, Texas, has earned 14 gold buckles in his 15-year Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association career, including three tie-down roping titles, two steer roping championships and a team roping-heading victory. He’s won two Triple Crowns – earning three world championships in a single season – doing so in 2007 and 2010.

During Thursday’s opening day of competition at the Will Rogers Stampede, Brazile won steer roping, earning the first-round victory and placing third in the second round. In all, he added $2,609 to his season earnings. It marks the fifth time this season he has earned a steer roping title, adding to victories in San Antonio; Odessa, Texas; Bridgeport, Texas; and Guymon, Okla.

Overall, Brazile has earned 18 rodeo titles this season, nine of which are all-around crowns. He’s earned more than $107,000. Less than a month ago in Guymon, he added the team roping title roping with Patrick Smith, and pocketed more than $14,000 to earn the all-around championship, a mini Triple Crown.

He’s well on his way to earning another. In addition to his steer roping victory, Brazile posted an 8.1-second run in tie-down roping and carries that lead heading into the final two performances in Claremore, set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Whatever money earned in that event likely will push Brazile to his 10th all-around victory in 2011.

Will Rogers Stampede
Claremore
, Okla.
Steer roping
First round

1. Trevor Brazile, 10.8, $983; 2. Rocky Patterson, 12.2, $813; 3. Cody Scheck, 13.6, $644; 4. Cody Lee, 14.0, $474; 5. Rod Hartness, 14.1, $305; 6. Brad Prather, 15.1, $169.
Second round

1. Jason Stockton, 10.7, $983; 2. Will Gasperson, 10.8, $813; 3. Trevor Brazile, 11.3, $644; 4. J. Paul Williams, 11.5, $474; 5. Cody Lee, 11.7, $305; 6. Worm Shipley, 11.8, $169.
Average

1. Trevor Brazile, 22.1, $983; 2. Cody Lee, 25.7, $813; 3. Rocky Patterson, 26.4, $644; 4. Chuck Thompson, 31.1, $474; 5. Brady Garten, 33.2, $305; 6. Mike Chase, 34.0, $169.

postheadericon Photos from Claremore

Go to www.WillRogersStampede.com and take a look at the photos we’ve got so far from the rodeo in Claremore.

Four-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Bobby Griswold prepares to compete Friday night during the opening performance of the Will Rogers Stampede in Claremore, Okla. (TED HARBIN PHOTO)

Four-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Bobby Griswold prepares to compete Friday night during the opening performance of the Will Rogers Stampede in Claremore, Okla. (TED HARBIN PHOTO)

postheadericon Riley inching closer to the pay window at Claremore rodeo

CLAREMORE, Okla. – In essence, Ricky Riley’s life changed several years ago when he moved from his native New Mexico to Checotah, Okla.

The steer wrestler wanted to be one of the best, so he decided to learn from the best, and every one of them seemed to be from that small eastern Oklahoma community known as the Bulldogging Capital of the World.

“I used to come over here, and they just took my money time after time,” said Riley, who posted a 4.2-second run Friday on opening night of the Will Rogers Stampede to take the steer wrestling lead. “When you’re there, you’re surrounded by all those guys, and you take it all in.”

Riley did. In fact, he won the Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo in 2005. In his eight-year ProRodeo career, Riley has traveled the country chasing his gold-buckle dreams.

But life continues to change. Rodeo isn’t the most important thing in Riley’s life; that little piece of his heart belongs to his wife of seven years, Kristie, and their son, Grant, born just 13 days ago.

“This is my first PRCA rodeo of the year,” Riley said, referring to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the premier sanctioning body in the sport. “Between my work and with him coming along, I just haven’t gone.”

Riley works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was recently transferred to the office in Chandler, Okla., a 95-mile commute until the family can find a home. But he found his way to Claremore in an effort to finally earn a paycheck at this rodeo.

“Memorial Day Weekend is such a good weekend around here,” he said, noting that there are events in Hinton, Okla., and Tonganoxie, Kan., this weekend, and the rodeo in nearby Fort Smith, Ark., begins Monday. “Since I bought my permit in 2002, I haven’t missed a year of this rodeo, but I’ve never done any good here either.

“This has always been a really good rodeo, but I’ve just never done well here.”

That’s about to change. Riley will have to wait out two more performances, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, to see if any of the other 22 bulldoggers in the field can move him off the top of the leaderboard.

Still, Riley is content in his lifestyle. He’ll try to go to 40 rodeos this year, unlike the years when he hit the road for tens of thousands of miles and 150 steer wrestling runs a year. He’ll enjoy sharing his time with his growing son. And just like many of the top contestants in the game, he’s already making plans to be in Claremore in 2012.

“We decided to raise a family and stick around the circuit, stay close to the house,” he said. “That’s fine by me.”

Will Rogers Stampede
Claremore
, Okla.
First performance
Bareback riding leaders

1. 1. Ty Breuer, 83 points on Western Trails’ Lorra Belle; 2. Tanner Aus, 72; no other qualified rides.

Steer wrestling leaders
1. Ricky Riley, 4.2 seconds; 2. Dru Melvin and Jacob Talley, 4.3; 4. Zach Cobb and Trey Austin, 4.4; 6. Chancey Larson, 5.0.

Saddle bronc riding leaders
1. Jacobs Crawley, 80 points on Rafter H Rodeo Livestock’s Spade; 2. Cody Angland, 79; 3. Bobby Griswold, 75; 4. Sterling Crawley, 74; 5. Tyrel Larsen, 73.

Tie down roping leaders
1. Trevor Brazile, 8.1; 2. Chris Neal, 8.5; 3. Trent Creager and Cole Bailey, 8.7; 4. Payden Emmett, 9.0; 5. Blake Eliason, 9.5; 6. Steve Brickey, 10.5.

Team roping leaders
1. Blake Hughes/Steve Orth, 5.2 seconds; 2. Casper May/Derrick Peterson, 5.8; 3. Adam Newcomb/Chad Harper, 6.0; 4. Nick Sartain/Kollin VonAhn, 6.1; 5. Jimmy Tanner, Manuel Egusquiza, 6.2.

Barrel racing leaders
1. Shelley Morgan, 17.11 seconds; 2. Jessi Eagleberger, 17.28; 3. Jeannie McKee, 17.32; 4. Tana Renick, 17.38; 5. Rachelle Holt, 17.45; 6. Keely Weger, 17.48.

Bull riding leaders
1. Corey Navarre, 68; no other qualified rides.

Steer roping
First round
: 1. Trevor Brazile, 10.8, $983; 2. Rocky Patterson, 12.2, $813; 3. Cody Scheck, 13.6, $644; 4. Cody Lee, 14.0, $474; 5. Rod Hartness, 14.1, $305; 6. Brad Prather, 15.1, $169.
Second round:
1. Jason Stockton, 10.7, $983; 2. Will Gasperson, 10.8, $813; 3. Trevor Brazile, 11.3, $644; 4. J. Paul Williams, 11.5, $474; 5. Cody Lee, 11.7, $305; 6. Worm Shipley, 11.8, $169.
Average:
1. Trevor Brazile, 22.1, $983; 2. Cody Lee, 25.7, $813; 3. Rocky Patterson, 26.4, $644; 4. Chuck Thompson, 31.1, $474; 5. Brady Garten, 33.2, $305; 6. Mike Chase, 34.0, $169.

postheadericon Whew …

What a busy and wonderful day in Claremore, where competition has begun for the 65th edition of the Will Rogers Stampede.

Announcer Scott Grover and I were part of the KITO morning broadcast in Vinita, Okla., then we stopped in wonderful Chelsea, Okla., to have breakfast with our dear friend, Donna McSpadden. We hung out there and checked out all the fantastic memorabilia inside the McSpadden & Associates office.

If you’re in the Tulsa area Friday, check us out on TV. Heck, DVR it for me and send me the DVD. Kristin Tallent will be at the arena interviewing Gizmo McCracken sometime after 8 a.m., and Scott Grover and I will be on KTUL-Channel 8 between 9 and 10.

Then come on out to the rodeo. It’ll be a whale of a show.

postheadericon Gone but not forgotten

Kansas City Royals great Paul Splittorff died today after a battle with oral cancer and melanoma.

He was an original Royal, drafted in 1968, and he played all 14 years in Kansas City. Even after he retired from playing, he stayed with the game and has served as one of the voices of the Royals on radio and TV broadcasts. Many might recall Split’s voice on college basketball games, but he was a major piece of the Royals for decades.

No matter which play-by-play guy called the games, Split provided deft analysis and was as critical of the Royals in their struggles as he was in his applause in their success — realistically, there hasn’t been much success in the franchise in many years, but you get the point.

I reflect on that because the Royals have been my baseball team since my childhood, and Paul Splittorff has been part of my life nearly all of my life. He was, and still is, an icon. Today I make my way to the northeastern Oklahoma hamlet of Claremore for the Will Rogers Stampede, just a 20-minute drive from the home of Clem McSpadden, the voice of ProRodeo.

My first trip to Rogers County came in July 2008, when my wife and I attended Clem’s funeral. The strongest supporter in rodeo had lost his battle with cancer, and I needed to say goodbye to my friend.

Today, though, I rejoice. I celebrate the men Paul Splittorff and Clem McSpadden were, and I thank them.

postheadericon Tornado outbreak

I’m getting the rig packed and ready to head to Claremore, Okla., for the 65th edition of the Will Rogers Stampede.

Of course, I’m well aware of the severe weather throughout this region of the world, just two days removed from the deadly tornado that hit Joplin, Mo., and killed at least 123 people. Although that would’ve been along my chosen path from home to Claremore, I’ve opted to take an alternate route through eastern Kansas instead.

I’ve spent most of my life in the area called Tornado Ally, so this is nothing new to me. I saw my first tornado in the lat 1970s when we lived in Texarkana, Texas, and I even outran a storm one Sunday afternoon in the mid-1990s:

I was leaving my parents’ home in Leoti, Kan., in order to get to my post in Dodge City, Kan., when I heard the distinct sound of a weather advisory indicating a tornado was on the ground north-northeast of Leoti. I thought, “That should be to my left.” Yep, it was. Gas pedal meet floorboard. I drove as fast as I could, slowing down only for other traffic and the towns en route, all the while listening to the weather reports on the radio. As I took 90-degree turns to make my way to Dodge City, the storm took the direct path over the countryside. I wheeled into the parking lot at the Dodge City Daily Globe, ran inside and into the storm shelter in the building’s basement just as that same tornado hit.

In Oklahoma, a tornado watch is an indicator for residents to hurry home so they could barbecue and watch the storm brewing. But tornadoes are no joking manner. A friend posted on Facebook today that his home in western Oklahoma took a direct hit and that one horse had been killed. The Weather Channel is reporting that at least one fatality has been reported from the tornado that hit near El Reno, Okla.

There is a beauty about the storms. I prefer to see that beauty from a distance, and I pray for those affected.