postheadericon Thouvenell wrestles his way back

Ethen Thouvenell grabs his steer on Thursday night during the third performance of the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo. Thouvenell wrestled the steer to the ground in 3.2 seconds to lead the second go-round. (JAMES PHIFER PHOTO)

Ethen Thouvenell grabs his steer on Thursday night during the third performance of the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo. Thouvenell wrestled the steer to the ground in 3.2 seconds to lead the second go-round. (JAMES PHIFER PHOTO)

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo is an important event for all 192 contestants in the field.

It might mean a little more to steer wrestler Ethen Touvenell of Wittmann, Ariz.

“I was pretty broke coming in here, and I needed to win something so I could keep going to these rodeos,” said Thouvenell, a two-time qualifier to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. “Anything helps. It doesn’t matter how much as long as I can keep winning. It’ll be a big difference.”

There is no guaranteed pay in the sport, and contestants must cover their own expenses to travel down the rodeo trail. Quality timed-event horses can cost tens of thousands of dollars, even hundreds of thousands of dollars. The specialized rigs that offer a house on wheels for both equine and human athletes are just as, if not more, costly.

Meanwhile, the only way a contestant is paid is if he or she performs better than most others that particular night.

“I’ve been to this rodeo four times, and the most I’ve ever won out of it is $1,000,” Thouvenell said. “It’d be a big boost for everything if I could do well here.”

Carlee Pierce of Stephenville, Texas, races to the finish Thursday night. Pierce posted a 15.25-second run and leads the second round and the two-run aggregate heading into the final day of competition Saturday. (JAMES PHIFER PHOTO)

Carlee Pierce of Stephenville, Texas, races to the finish Thursday night. Pierce posted a 15.25-second run and leads the second round and the two-run aggregate heading into the final day of competition Saturday. (JAMES PHIFER PHOTO)

Thouvenell grappled his steer to the dirt in 3.2 seconds and leads the second go-round heading into Saturday’s four performance, scheduled for 1 p.m. at State Fair Arena. Combined with his 6.0-second run in the opening round, Thouvenell sits fourth in the two-run aggregate. Jason Miller, the 2007 world champion from Lance Creek, Wyo., leads the average with a cumulative time of 9.1 seconds.

Barrel racer Carlee Pierce, who lived much of her life in the Freedom-Woodward area in northwest Oklahoma, has a commanding lead in the two-run aggregate. She won the opening round with a 15.42-second run on her great horse, Dillion. On Friday night, she blistered the cloverleaf pattern again, stopping the clock in 15.25 seconds.

“Everything just felt really smooth,” said Pierce, a two-time NFR qualifier from Stephenville, Texas. “(Dillion) just went out there and ran. He likes this arena.”

A year ago, Pierce finished as the runner-up at the RNCFR. What would it mean to win this coveted title in such a historic arena?

“I would love to win in any arena, but (with) this arena being in my home states (and that) I’ve got a lot of family and friends that are watching, so to do it right here at home would be fun,” she said.

Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo
April 4-6, Oklahoma City
Second round leaders
Bareback riding:
1. (tie) Kaycee Feild, Spanish Fork, Utah, on Korkow Rodeo’s Arabella, and Tim O’Connell, Swigle, Iowa, on Carr Pro Rodeo’s Cool Change, 85 points; 3. (tie) Jared Keylon, Uniontown, Kan., and Tyson Thompson, Bradley, Calif., 81; 5. Jessy Davis, Power, Mont., 80; 6. Wes Stevenson, Lubbock, Texas, 79. Average leaders: 1. Tim O’Connell, 167 points on two; 2. Jared Keylon, 164; 3. Jessy Davis, 161; 4. Wes Stevenson, 160; 5. Bobby Mote, 158; 6. Matthew Smith, 152; 7. Jet Price, 147; 8. Kaycee Feild, 85 on one.

Steer wrestling: 1. Ethen Thouvenell, Wittmann, Ariz., 3.2 seconds; 2. Dean Gorsuch, Gering, Neb., 4.5; 3. Jason Miller, Lance Creek, Wyo., 4.8; 4. Sean Santucci, Prineville, Ore., 5.1; 5. Trevor Duhon, Phoenix, Ariz., 5.3; 6. Kamry Dymmek, Kissimmee, Fla., 8.2. Average leaders: 1. Jason Miller, Lance Creek, Wyo., 9.1 seconds on two head; 2. Dean Gorsuch, Gering, Neb., 9.2; 3. Sean Santucci, Prineville, Ore., 9.5; 4. Ethen Thouvenell, Wittmann, Ariz., 9.7; 5. Trevor Duhon, Phoenix, Ariz., 13.2; 6. Mike Gollaher, Cascade, Mont., 19.2; 7. Tom Lewis, Lehi, Utah, 20.5;8. Clayton Hass, Terrell, Texas, 3.7 on one.

Tie-down roping: 1. (tie) Bryson Sechrist, Apache, Okla., and Matt Shiozawa, Chubbuck, Idaho, 8.8 seconds; 3. (tie) Shane Erickson, Terrebonne, Ore., and Jesse Clark, Portales, N.M., 9.0; 5. Scott Kormos, Teague, Texas, 10.2; 6. Justin Scofield, Volga, S.D., 11.4. Average leaders: 1. Matt Shiozawa, Chubbuck, Idaho, 17.7 seconds on two head; 2. Shane Erickson, Terrebonne, Ore., 18.4; 3. Scott Kormos, Teague, Texas, 18.6; 4. (tie) Bryson Sechrist, Apache, Okla., and Jesse Clark, Portales, N.M., 19.7; 6. Chase Johnston, Kersey, Colo., 21.5; 7. Cody McCartney, Ottawa Lake, Mich., 22.2; 8. Justin Thigpen, Waycross, Ga., 30.3.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Curtis Garton, New Zealand, 82 points on Carr Pro Rodeo’s Empty Pockets; 2. Troy Crowser, Whitewood, S.D., 80; 3. (tie) Andy Clarys, Riverton, Wyo., Joaquin Real, Woody, Calif., and Cody Taton, Corona, N.M., 78; 6. Jesse Wright, Milford, Utah, 77. Average leaders: 1. Curtis Garton, New Zealand, 162 points on two head; 2. Cody Taton, Corona, N.M., 156; 3. Jesse Wright, Milford, Utah, 155; 4. Andy Clarys, Riverton, Wyo., 154; 5. Joaquin Real, Woody, Calif., 152; 6. Jake Costello, Newell, S.D., 142; 7. Ben Londo, Pendleton, Ore., 141; 8. Jesse Kirby, Dodge City, Kan., 134.

Team roping: 1. Preston Billadeau, Parshall, N.D./Jared Bilby, Bridgeport, Neb., 4.8 seconds; 2. Erich Rogers, Round Rock, Ariz./Nick Sarchett, Phoenix, Ariz., 5.3; 3. Nelson Linares, Plant City, Fla./Shawn Harris, Searcy, Ark., 6.0; 4. Shane Erickson, Terrebonne, Ore./Jade Corkill, Fallon, Nev., 6.6; 5. Luke Brown, Stephenville, Texas/Martin Lucero, Stephenville, Texas, 9.9; 6. Adam Rose, Willard, Mo./Gabe Gwaltney, Carthage, Mo., 10.1. Average leaders: 1. Erich Rogers, Round Rock, Ariz./Nick Sarchett, Phoenix, Ariz., 11.4 seconds on two head; 2. Nelson Linares, Plant City, Fla./Shawn Harris, Searcy, Ark., 12.1; 3. Shane Erickson, Terrebonne, Ore./Jade Corkill, Fallon, Nev., 12.2; 4. Hunter Munsell, Arnett, Okla./Derrick Jantzen, Ames, Okla., 20.4; 5. Adam Rose, Willard, Mo./Gabe Gwaltney, Carthage, Mo., 25.1; 6. Preston Billadeau, Parshall, N.D./Jared Bilby, Bridgeport, Neb., 4.8 on one; 7. Troy Kitchener, Liberty, Mo./Chad Mathes, Lawson, Mo., 5.3; 8. Derrick Begay, Seba Dalkai, Ariz./Cesar de la Cruz, Tucson, Ariz., 5.5.

Barrel racing: 1. Carlee Pierce, Stephenville, Texas, 15.25 seconds; 2. Barbara Merrill, Axtell, Utah, 15.50; 3. Sherry Cannon, St. Augustine, Fla., 15.56; 4. Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, S.D. 15.59; 5. Cindy Smith, Hobbs, N.M., 15.74; 6. Chloe Hoovestal, Helena, Mont, 15.59. Average leaders: 1. Carlee Pierce, 30.67 seconds on two runs; 2. Cindy Smith, 31.30; 3. Lisa Lockhart, 31.31; 4. Barbara Merrill, 31.35; 5. Viki Friedrich, 32.09; 6. Chloe Hoovestall, 32.39; 7. Sherry Cannon, 36.40; 8. Brianna Trepanier, 36.43.

Bull riding: 1. Tag Elliott, Thatcher, Utah, 83 points on Andrews Rodeo’s Black Kat; 2. Sammy Matthews, Springville, Calif., 78; 3. Abe Dillman, Grassy Butte, N.D., 74; no other qualified rides. Average leaders: 1. Dylan Werner, Perry, Fla., 89 points on one head; 2. John Young, Orient, Iowa, 84; 3. Tag Elliott, Thatcher, Utah, 83; 4. (tie) Bryce Brown, Greenview, Calif., and Sammy Matthews, Springville, Calif., 78; 6. Abe Dillman, Grassy Butte, N.D., 74.

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