SALINA, Kan. – Steven Dent loves riding bucking horses.
It’s how he makes a living. It’s how he’s qualified five times for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. It’s how he won $5,690 on Saturday in Salina, the bulk of which came from his bareback riding win during the Professional Roughstock Series’ Midwest Classic inside the Bicentennial Center.
But Dent took his love affair with bucking horses a little further than most. While competing Saturday morning in The American qualifier, then again that night in the Midwest Classic, the Mullen, Neb., cowboy mounted seven animals between bareback riding and saddle bronc riding.
The most any other cowboy tried that day was three, so Dent was an over-achiever.
Dent’s horse was on Burch Rodeo’s Beggin Strips, which, apparently, wasn’t interested in performing that morning. The result was the judges’ ruling Dent deserved a re-ride, and he made the most of it with an 86-point marking on New Frontier’s Long Pine. That earned him 86 points and the first-place $900 check.
More importantly, as one of the top five cowboys in the bareback riding qualifier, he advanced to the semifinals for The American, the richest one-day rodeo in the world that will take place March 2 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas – the home of the Dallas Cowboys. Dent, Erik Wolford, Josi Young, Caleb Bennett and Casey Breuer will advance to the semifinals round in Mesquite, Texas. From there, five will then qualify for The American, where a qualifier can earn a $1 million payday by winning his/her respective event.
Better yet is that later Saturday morning, Dent rode New Frontier’s Satin Sheets for 84.5 points to win saddle bronc riding, advancing to The American semifinals with Cody DeMoss, Tyrel Larsen, Dylan Henson and Luke Butterfield.
During the Midwest Classic, Dent rodeo Frontier Rodeo’s Showdown for 87 points to win the first go-round. In the final round, Frontier’s Crossfire didn’t have the kind of trip Dent needed; he earned another re-ride, and his 89 on Frontier’s Short Night earned Dent another bareback riding championship. In all, he rode five bareback horses, received two re-rides and won three go-rounds and the average title.
In the Midwest Classic’s bronc riding, Dent mustered a 74 on Frontier’s Two Bucks in the first round and failed to advance to the championship round, where cousins Cole and J.J. Elshere finished atop the leaderboard. J.J. Elshere, a four-time NFR qualifier from Hereford, S.D., won the first round with an 88 on Frontier’s Bear Paw, while Cole Elshere, a two-time NFR qualifier from Faith, S.D., was 86.5 on Frontier’s Back Woods in the opening round.
Cole then got the better of his older cousin in the final round, scoring an 85 to win the round on Burch’s Friendly Fire and to win the average with 171.5 points on two rides.
“I hadn’t placed at any of those Pro Roughstock deals all season, so it means a lot to win this one,” said Cole Elshere, who earned $3,729. “Now I have a shot to make the finals.”
The Professional Roughstock Series World Finals is scheduled for Nov. 15-16 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City, S.D., just two hours from Cole Elshere’s hometown.
“These deals are really fun, and this one was really fun,” he said. “They make it as exciting as they can, and I enjoy going to them.
“I feel really good and am excited for this time of year,” Cole Elshere said. “At the circuit finals, I changed a few things, and it’s been good ever since.”
Things went quite well for second-generation bull rider McKennon Wimberly of Cool, Texas, was the only cowboy to ride two bulls during Saturday night’s show. Wimberly placed second in the first round with an 83-point ride on New Fronteir’s You’re Next, then held on for a 74 in the short round on New Frontier’s Arangutang. In all, he won $3,729.
“It was an awesome event,” said Wimberly, the bull riding standings leader. “They had great fans around there, great stock. These events are really good events, and they’re cowboy events. I get as much enjoyment out of watching broncs and bareback horses as I do for riding bulls, so that’s why I like these.
“This win was big for me, because my good buddy, Willis Trosclair, was right on my heels. I had to make some ground up. Now I’ll go into Tulsa feeling good and riding good.”
In the world of bull riding, not many cowboys are more recognized than two-time PBR world champion Justin McBride, who retired from the sport five years ago. He returned to the arena in Salina, but as a bareback rider. While also trying to qualify for The American in bareback riding, McBride was part of an elite field of cowboys in the Midwest Classic.
He posted a 71-point ride in the qualifier and finished 17th, failing to advance to the semifinals. He also posted a 71 Saturday night and did not make the championship round. He has indicated his intent to qualify for The American in bareback riding, so he likely will be part of another event very soon. Other cowboys understand that.
“The main thing to me is to go somewhere to compete that I enjoy,” Wimberly said. “The PRS has been my priority all year long. I have a lot of fun at them, and they’ve kept me going and keep giving me a chance to win some money.”
Professional Roughstock Series
Oct. 19, 2013
Bareback riding: First round: 1. Steven Dent, 87 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Showdown, $1,243; 2. Winn Ratliff, 85.5, $932; 3. Caleb Bennett, 84, $622; 4. Justin McDaniel, 81, $311. Final round 1. Steven Dent, 89 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Short Night; 2. (tie) Winn Ratliff and Justin McDaniel, 85; 4. Caleb Bennett, 75. Average: 1. Steven Dent, 176 points on two rides, $2,797; 2. Winn Ratliff, 170.5, $1,865.
Saddle bronc riding: First round: 1. J.J. Elshere, 88 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Bear Paw, $1,243; 2. Cole Elshere, 86.5, $932; 3. Eric Wolford, 84.5, $622; 4. (tie) Ray Tom Meiers and Luke Butterfield, 82.5, $156 each. Final round: 1. Cole Elshere, 85 points on Burch Rodeo’s Friendly Fire; 2. Luke Butterfield, 84.5; 3. J.J. Elshere, 82; 4. (tie) Erik Wolford and Ray Tom Meiers, 80.5. Average: 1. Cole Elshere, 171.5 points on two rides, $2,797; 2. J.J. Elshere, 170, $1,865.
Bull riding: First round: 1. Sevi Torturo, 85.5 points on Flying V’s Ghost Face, $1,243; 2. McKennon Wimberly, 83, $932; 3. Jason McClain, 82.5, $622; 4. Travis Sellers, 82, $311. Final round: 1. McKennon Wimberly, 74 points on New Frontier Rodeo’s Arangutang; no other qualified rides. Average: 1. McKennon Wimberly, 157 points on two rides, $3,729; 2. Sevi Torturo, 85.5, $3,108.
The American Qualifier
(Top 5 advancing to semifinals in Mesquite, Texas, next February)
Bareback riding: 1. Steven Dent, 86 points on New Frontier Rodeo’s Long Pine, $900; 2. Erik Wolford, 82.5, $675; 3. (tie) Josi Young and Caleb Bennett, 82, $338 each; 5. Casey Breuer, 80.5.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Steven Dent, 84.5 points on New Frontier Rodeo’s Satin Sheets, $750; 2. Cody DeMoss, 83.5, $562; 3. Tyrel Larsen, 81, $375; 4. Dylan Henson, 78, $188; 5. Luke Butterfield, 76.