Archive for October, 2011

postheadericon Money made in the Heartland

The first two rounds of timed events are complete at the American Royal rodeo in Kansas City. Because the space limitations at the Sprint Center, the first two rounds — and Thursday morning’s first round of barrel racing — are taking place at Lone Wolf Arena in Cleveland, Mo.

The top 40 times in the two-run aggregate (for men) and the top 40 from the opening round of barrel racing qualify for the progressive, which will take place during the four performances,  set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

There are a lot of close times so far, so I expect a fantastic race to the title over the next three days of competition.

Steer wrestling: First round: 1. Kenneth Lewis, 3.4 seconds, $2,280; 2. (tie) Straws Milan, Riley Duvall and K.C. Jones, 3.5, $1,685 each; 5. (tie) Ryan Swayze, Gabe Burrows, Shane Henderson, Les Shepperson, Beau Clark and Jason Miller, 3.8, $430 each. Second round: 1. Gabe Ledoux, 3.3 seconds, $2,280; 2. Ryan Swayze, 3.5, $1,536; 3. (tie) Ryan Jarrett and Jake Johnson, 3.7, $1,536 each; 5. (tie) Aaron Vosler and Tyler Haugen, 3.9, $942 each; 7. Zack Cobb, 4.0, $496; 8. (tie) Dean Gorsuch, Ben Goodman, Travis Carnine and Tooter Silver, 4.1, $50 each.

Team roping: First round: 1. Colby Lovell/Ryan Motes, 3.9 seconds, $2,212 each; 2. Jade Corkill/Justin Wade Davis, 4.2, $1,923; 3. Spencer Mitchell/Broc Cresta, 4.4, $1,635; 4. (tie) Coleman Proctor/Caleb Twisselman, Luke Brown/Martin Lucero and Paul David Tierney/Jared Bilby, 4.5, $1,058 each; 7. (tie) David Key/Rich Skelton and Brandon Beers/Jim Ross Cooper, 4.6, $337 each. Second round: 1. Shawn Bessette/Sid Sporer, 4.2 seconds, $2,212 each; 2. Nathan McWhorter/Twister Cain, 4.6, $1,923; 3. (tie) Nick Sartain/Kollin VonAhn, Shane Philipp/John Phillip and Blake Larmon/Nick Simmons, 4.8, $1,346; 6. Tyler Wade/Tyler Barton, 4.9, $769; 7. Dustin Davis/Kinney Harrell, 5.0, $481; 8. Trevor Brazile/Patrick Smith, 5.1, $192.

Tie-down roping: First round: 1. Shank Edwards, 7.9 seconds, $2,246; 2. Ace Slone, 8.5, $1,953; 3. Jerome Schneeberger, 8.6, $1,660; 4. Dakota Eldridge, 8.7, $1,367; 5. Zeb Chapman, 8.8, $1,074; 6. Roger Nonella, 8.9, $781; 7. (tie) Doug Pharr and Hunter Herrin, 9.0, $342 each. Second round: 1. Cory Solomon, 7.6 seconds, $2,246; 2. Trent Creager, 7.9, $1,953; 3. Michael Otero, 8.1, $1,660; 4. Jake Hannum, 8.4, $1,367; 5. (tie) Jerome Schneeberger and Clif Cooper, 8.5, $928 each; 7. (tie) Clint Robinson, Roger Nonella and Scotty Shelton, 8.6, $228 each.

 

postheadericon Kansas City rodeo: It’s more of a marathon than a Sprint

This week is supposed to mark five years I’ve covered the American Royal rodeo in Kansas City. In that time, I will have covered it via closed-circuit from the hospitality area, written from the top of a trash can and done interviews in a bathroom stall.

Ah, the glorious life of a writer, I know.

The reality is, I’m blessed to do what I love no matter where I do it. When you have great stories like these, it’s wonderful. Plus, my goal is to entice all readers to take in a rodeo and see what all the fun is about.

Of course, I don’t have confirmation that I’ll be covering the rodeo just yet. Even though I requested credentials a few weeks ago, I just received the required form to do so. In fact, I will not find out if I’m approved for credentials to do my job until Thursday, the first of three days of competition at the Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City.

I’m really not sure why the delay or why the Sprint Center media department feels the need to wait until the last minute to handle all these tasks. You’d think an event like this in a metro area as large as Kansas City would mean allowing more than a couple of days to approve requests and more than a few hours notice to give those media outlets notice.

But these are the cards I’m dealt, so I’ll roll with it. I’m already all-in, so we’ll just see how the hand plays out.

But as a media director for many events, I know the importance of media coverage and doing everything possible to make sure reporters, photographers and videographers have everything they need to cover my rodeos. If done right, it can pay off in the end.

A good media person can really ignite promotions. That’s a win-win situation for producers, arenas and everyone in the middle.

postheadericon Kansas City has the best in ProRodeo

The American Royal rodeo will feature some of the greatest contestants in the sport, from world champions to regular qualifiers to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

It will also feature the 2011 world champion bucking horses, both owned by Frontier Rodeo Co. – bareback horse Full Baggage and saddle bronc Medicine Woman. They are outstanding animal athletes that just love what they do, and it’ll just add to an already strong evening of great entertainment.

Both horses will be part of bareback riding; broncs oftentimes are switched from one event to another to change things up a little. They will be part of the fourth performance at the Sprint Center, which begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night and concludes with a concert from Reba McEntire.

Now that’s a show.

postheadericon He’d just as Suhn be a champion

How consistent is Todd Suhn?

He’s finished in the top 15, qualifying for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, 15 times in 16 years. The only year he

Todd Suhn

Todd Suhn

missed ProRodeo’s grand finale was 2006. Care to guess where he finished in the final world standings that year?

Yeah, he was 16th.

The string of qualifications started in 1996, just a few months removed from Suhn’s steer wrestling championship at the College National Finals Rodeo.

In speaking with fellow bulldogger Wade Sumpter recently, Suhn’s consistency became a topic of conversation. You see, there isn’t an athlete in any sport who hasn’t had a slump. The question for most is “How do you overcome that and remain one of the best?”

“Todd Suhn has made a living at the NFR, and you can’t tell me he hasn’t had slumps,” said Sumpter, a four-time NFR qualifier who finished 17th in the world standings this season. “You just learn to deal with that. You’re not going to win every time. Luke Branquinho and Dean Gorsuch win a lot, but if they didn’t go through slumps, they’d go to the NFR with $500,000 won every year.

“Slumps are part of the game, and you just have to learn to deal with them.”

postheadericon Missed opportunity doesn’t mean missed work

Wade Sumpter’s goal, as it always is, was to qualify for the 2011 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and battle for the steer wrestling world championship.

That didn’t happen.

Wade Sumpter

Wade Sumpter

Instead, the Fowler, Colo., cowboy finished in 17th place, just $2,700 out of his fifth qualification by finishing in the top 15 in the world standings at the conclusion of the regular season.

“It’s disappointing because it’s what we do for a living,” Sumpter said. “I’ve been pretty fortunate in past years to slip in there. I’m alright with it. I just didn’t bulldog well enough there at the end.”

Sumpter travels with Ethen Thouvenell, Billy Bugenig and Seth Brockman, all of whom had qualified for the Justin Boots Championships the final weekend of the season in Omaha, Neb. Sumpter didn’t make that field, but like and Brockman, he was on the bubble for the NFR.

The Omaha rodeo offered the biggest prize pool of any events that time of year, but there were plenty of other rodeos taking place that final weekend. Sumpter could’ve gone to any number of them but instead worked his schedule so he could be in Omaha with his traveling partners.

Let’s also throw out the fact that Sumpter and Bugenig are co-owners of Wick, the reigning two-time PRCA/AQHA Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year. When you have a great equine partner, other bulldoggers see that. But Sumpter also has a pretty fair backup horse that works great for some cowboys, like Brockman.

“I hauled my gray horse for Seth to ride, and Billy and Ethen rode Wick,” Sumpter said. “I had entered enough other rodeos so I could go to Omaha instead of going to California and all those rodeos out there that weekend.”

The result was Brockman moving into the top 15 and Sumpter moving out. That’s the nature of the bulldogging beast. Is Sumpter frustrated by that twist of fate, where basically he dived onto the grenade in order to allow Brockman into the field?

“It’s business,” he said. “I rodeo with those guys all year, and it’s nice to see those guys do well. It’s pretty exciting to see those guys get in their.

“It’ll be fun to see.”

But make no mistake, Sumpter is in the rodeo business, not the mounting business. Although he makes a percentage of what is made by Bugenig and Brockman in Las Vegas, Sumpter would rather be there for himself.

“We’ve got a four-man crew, and that’s who I go with,” he said. “I don’t hardly mount anybody out unless they’re in a bind. Not many other people ride Wick. Besides, it pays a lot better for me to win my own money than just a percentage.

“I’ve been real fortunate that our main income is rodeo. When you can do that, you live a pretty lucky life.”

postheadericon Prognosticating protocol

I visited today with Brandon Westphal, president of www.PlayRodeo.com. He’s getting ready for his fantasy contest associated with the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

I provided a few tidbits and thoughts, focusing primarily on the worlds of barrel racing and bareback riding. He plans to post those insights on the website soon, so keep an eye out.

And play. It looks like it’ll be a lot of fun.

postheadericon Far-reaching issue

One of my regular assignments is as the rodeo correspondent for the Kansas City Star. A week ago, I got a message from the assistant sports editor about a metro section story on steer roping and the American Royal rodeo. The editor asked me pointedly, “Is this a controversy you’re familiar with?”

I wasn’t familiar with any controversy because I wasn’t aware that the American Royal had ever had steer roping. So I did a little investigating, and I found a blog post from PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, chastising the American Royal. Apparently, a reporter for the Star bought into PETA’s report and found information she believed was worth a story.

Unfortunately the editors bought into the reporter’s claim, too, and a story about a non-story was published earlier this week. Here are the facts: Steer roping is not and has not been part of the American Royal; the Prairie Circuit Steer Roping Finals took place in Bucyrus, Kan., from 2007-2009, at the same time the Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo was taking place during the American Royal.

The last time either circuit finals event took place in the Kansas City area was two Octobers ago.

I visited with the editor in charge, who claimed the “controversy” is what made it a story, but the “controversy” is a PETA- and SHARK-induced fight that really isn’t a controversy. Not only that, but there is no timeliness in this “story.” PETA found a patsy in the reporter and got just what it wanted, a story published in a large newspaper about a non issue.

In talking to the editor in charge, I realize that he was being supportive of his reporter. That’s commendable. He suggested that since steer roping isn’t at all rodeos that the controversy exists. That might be true, but until the PRCA made it mandatory, team roping wasn’t at all rodeos either. There is no controversy in team roping; in fact, it’s one of the largest participatory sports in all rodeo-related activities.

Still, the editor allowed a non-issue to serve as a “controversial” story with the headline “American Royal rodeo gets dragged into tussle over steer roping.”

The Kansas City Star dragged the American Royal into the tussle. The newspaper should report the news not fabricate it.

postheadericon All American finale to be in Waco at least three more years

By the PRCA

WACO, Texas – The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association has signed an agreement with the Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo Committee that will keep the All American ProRodeo Finals, presented by Pendleton Whisky, in Waco for the next three years.

The Extraco Events Center in Waco has been the home of the season-ending championship since its beginnings four years ago – first as part of the Heartland Series and for the past two years as the $500,000 finale for the All American ProRodeo Series – and has enjoyed increased fan support each year.

The recently completed Oct. 7-15 event had record attendance, up 5 percent from a year ago.

“The All American ProRodeo Series was created to provide opportunities for our members,” PRCA Commissioner Karl Stressman said, “and the Finals in Waco have been a big part of that. We have had some real success stories there, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with the Heart O’ Texas committee for years to come.”

All PRCA rodeos with added money of $30,000 or less – more than 400 rodeos this year – are automatically part of the All American ProRodeo series and the finals in Waco are a big incentive for up-and-coming professionals while also helping rodeo committees increase participation throughout the year.

“We take pride in the role we play in helping contestants and committees,” said Wes Allison, president/CEO of the Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo. “From our standpoint, the format fits so well with our (Heart O’ Texas Fair), and we are excited to continue our collaboration with the PRCA. It’s been great for our fans and great for our committee.”

The final round of this year’s All American ProRodeo Finals amply demonstrated the role the series can play in developing new stars in the cowboy sport. The team roping was won by 2011 PRCA/Resistol Rookie of the Year Header Joshua Torres and his brother Jonathan. Rookie Riley Duvall, 19, won the steer wrestling and 20-year-old Jacob O’Mara won the bull riding and a rodeo-best $16,413.

“It’s a great series,” Duvall said. “It gives guys like me, who are just starting out and can’t go to some of the bigger rodeos a chance to learn and get better and compete at a big-money rodeo like Waco. Wes and his committee do a great job. They get great stock and treat everybody well. It’s a real good deal. It helped me out a bunch. The money I earned (at Waco) will now get me into some of the big winter rodeos coming up.”

Great American Country’s television coverage of the All American ProRodeo Finals will air at 9 p.m. Central Oct. 30, with rebroadcasts at 12:30 a.m. Oct. 31, 9 p.m. Nov. 27 and 12:30 a.m. Nov. 28 (Dish Network, Chanel 167, and DirecTV, Chanel 326). GAC will also broadcast the finals in 2012.

postheadericon Sister Act

Vickie Shireman and Dollie Riddle do a lot of the same things in the world of rodeo. Both are secretaries and timers in the PRCA, and both work a lot of events for Beutler & Son Rodeo Co., the family livestock firm that’s been around as long as ProRodeo. Their brother, Bennie, and nephew, Rhett, run the operation now, but it’s been part of their lives all their lives.

The sisters will be in Las Vegas during the 53rd Wrangler National Finals Rodeo working behind the scenes like they do at so many events. Shireman is the event’s office manager, and Riddle will be one of the timers. But the Beutler sisters weren’t always behind the scenes. There once was a time when they were featured in front of the fans at many rodeos.

What did Vickie Shireman and Dollie Riddle do in front of all those rodeo fans?

postheadericon Oklahomans proud to have finale in home state

GUTHRIE, Okla. – Oklahomans are a proud bunch; they’ll especially be proud during the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping, which will feature top 15 ropers in the business.

It doesn’t hurt a thing that five qualifiers are from Oklahoma, and they’re happier than anyone to be part of the 10-round slugfest planned for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11, and Saturday, Nov. 12, at the Lazy E Arena, the longtime home of the championship.

J.P. Wickett

J.P. Wickett

“I don’t know the exact dimensions of the arena floor, but I know you could set a lot of coliseums in an arena that is that big,” said J.P. Wickett, the 15th-ranked cowboy in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association standings from Sallisaw, Okla. “It’s unreal. It’s the pinnacle spot to have the steer roping finals.”

The Lazy E has been host of the championship for 19 of its 53 years in existence. Built in time to host the 1984 steer roping finale in conjunction with the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo just 25 minutes away in downtown Oklahoma City, the arena has been home to many world champions in the nearly 30 years since.

It’s also the place to be for elite steer ropers like Wickett and fellow Oklahomans Chet Herren of Pawhuska (No. 8 in the standings); Ralph Williams of Skiatook (10); Kim Ziegelgruber of Edmond (11); and Mike Chase of McAlester (12).

“I grew up in Oklahoma, and I’ve lived here all my life,” said Wickett, the event representative with the PRCA, a post on which he was voted by fellow steer ropers. “The Lazy E was built to have the steer roping finals.”

It’s the right rightful home to this kind of a championship. The arena was host to the steer roping finale from 1984-2000. For five years, the championship moved to Amarillo, Texas, then to Hobbs, N.M., for three years. It returned to Oklahoma in 2009, and Wickett was one of the driving forces behind that decision.

“This is probably the hardest year for me,” said Wickett, a 12-time qualifier who makes this his 11th straight trip. “I took my family with me in July and August for a little bit, then when I came home, it was really hard for me to stay gone. It’s harder for me every year.

“I wasn’t really going to go that hard any more, but the way things worked out, I got lucky and made it. It went down to the last steer of the season, and I made it in.”

Sometimes that’s all it takes to make a successful run during the two days of competition. Wickett won’t win this year’s world championship; he’s too far down the standings. But he has a chance to make a significant bonus on his annual salary, which is why the top players in the game want to be at the Lazy E in November.

“Steer roping is one of the original events in rodeo,” said Wickett, who qualified for the NFR in heading in 1998. “I’ve roped calves. I’ve headed; I’ve heeled. Roping steer takes more horsemanship. You have to be better with your rope. You not only have to be fast, but you have to be patient. If you do one thing wrong, it could lead to a bunch of problems.

“It’s a gentleman’s sport. It’s great to be around that bunch of guys. You’ve got to be able to handle your horse, handle cattle and handle a rope.”

While he’d like to walk away with the coveted gold buckle, Wickett knows that won’t happen this year. He also has a pretty good idea on which competitor will.

“Trevor Brazile,” Wickett said matter-of-factly about the 14-time world champion who owns eight all-around, three tie-down roping, two steer roping and a heading world title. “The year I made the finals, I made it with Trevor. You just cannot give Trevor Brazile a lead. He knows how to take the ball and run with it.”