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postheadericon Erickson was a torch-bearer

Dwayne Erickson was a longtime rodeo writer for the Calgary Herald. He died Monday after a battle with cancer. (CALGARY HERALD PHOTO)

Dwayne Erickson was a longtime rodeo writer for the Calgary Herald. He died Monday after a battle with cancer. (CALGARY HERALD PHOTO)

The e-mail that came today brought the news I’d been expecting.

Still, I’m saddened by the death a rodeo legend, author Dwayne Erickson who penned thousands of articles for the Calgary (Alberta) Herald and shared the exploits of Canada’s champions for millions of readers over a storied career. If there was a story that needed to be written a Canadian cowboy or cowgirl, Erickson surely was the person who needed to write it.

Erickson died Monday after a battle with cancer. I’d learned about his fight just 11 days ago, when another Canadian colleague, Ted Stovin, called to share the news. Dwayne was a fixture in rodeo, and every Canadian who had ever qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo knew it was their duty to march to the media room as soon as they finished their ride or run, where they’d sit and answer his questions each night.

Whether it was Rod Hay or Glen O’Neill, Curtis Cassidy or Lee Graves, they would make sure to have that one-on-one time with Erickson, who, for years, smoked and drank beer as he worked in the NFR media room. He was one of the last holdouts when the media room became smoke-free.

The last time he covered the NFR was in 2010, my first year to ever be in Las Vegas for all 10 nights of ProRodeo’s championship event. Toward the end of the run, Dwayne motioned me over to his area, and I took the seat next to him typically reserved for Canadians.

“You ever thought about moving to Calgary?” he asked.

Well … not really, I responded.

“Well, my time’s about done,” he said in that matter-of-fact manner for which was his calling card. “I’m not going to be around this Earth for very much (expletive) longer. Hell, it might be pretty (expletive) soon, and we need good rodeo writers in Calgary, and we need someone who knows rodeo.”

That was a flattering offer from one of the sport’s most significant voices. He was a two-time winner of the PRCA Media Award for Excellence in Print Journalism, in 2003 and 2012.

Most importantly, he was a torch-bearer for millions of rodeo fans in Alberta and the rest of North America, and he should be remembered as such.

postheadericon Locals love competing in Bridgeport

BRIDGEPORT, Texas – For most associated with the sport, the hometown rodeo is a chance to compete in front of family.

It’s a wonderful benefit to the band of gypsies that make a living on the rodeo trail. You see, rodeo cowboys and cowgirls travel more than 100,000 miles a year plying their trade. They ride, rope, wrestle and race for paychecks, whether the competitions are in Pendleton, Ore., or Arcadia, Fla.

Trevor Brazile

Trevor Brazile

The Coopers and Braziles are different than most. When they show up to compete, it is a family reunion. Clint, Clif and Tuf Cooper are brothers who live in Decatur, Texas, just a stone’s throw from the Butterfield Stage Days PRCA Rodeo in Bridgeport. Clif and Tuf’s half-sister is Shada Brazile, one of the top barrel racers in 2013 and the wife of 17-time world champion Trevor Brazile. They live near Decatur, too.

Nonetheless, they’re excited to return home for the Bridgeport rodeo, which will have performances at 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, May 10-11, at Bridgeport Riding Club Arena.

“Every year I’ve had my card, I’ve been to that rodeo,” said Tuf Cooper, the two-time reigning world champion tie-down roper and one of three sons born to eight-time world champion Roy Cooper. “For me, everybody in my family is at every rodeo we go to, but Bridgeport is a great spot. For a lot of my friends who don’t get to see me rope, it’s easy access for them to watch me rope. I’ll get a lot of my friends there, where they don’t get to see me very often.”

Tuf Cooper

Tuf Cooper

Butterfield Stage Days is a local celebration for many of ProRodeo’s greatest stars. In addition to the Braziles and Coopers, Wise County is home to National Finals Steer Roping qualifiers Will Gasperson of Decatur and Jarrett Blessing of Paradise. It’s also in proximity to bareback rider Matt Bright, a three-time NFR qualifier from Azle, Texas, and saddle bronc rider Bradley Harter, a seven-time NFR qualifier from Weatherford, Texas.

“I like that rodeo because it’s the closest ProRodeo to our hometown, and the people of Brideport are so welcoming and try so hard there,” said Shada Brazile, one of the top 10 barrel racers in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association the end of March. “They usually have really great ground, which is always a plus in my event.

“When you’re this close to home, your horses are more rested, and you’re more rested. We travel just 15 minutes to get to the rodeo. That never happens.”

Shada Brazile

Shada Brazile

Bridgeport is a vital rodeo for Trevor Brazile. It’s one of the few rodeos in this area that allows him the opportunity to compete in all three of his events. He is one of two men who have qualified for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s National Finals in all four roping disciplines, joining Dale Smith in making it in heading, heeling, tie-down roping and steer roping. In addition to his 10 all-around gold buckles, Trevor Brazile owns one heading, three steer roping and three tie-down roping world titles.

“That makes Bridgeport even more important to Trevor because he is able to go in all three events,” Shada Brazile said. “The time of the year is really good for us. We’ve been gone, and we’re home that time of year anyway. It’s a great run right before we have to get ready for the summer.”

Unlike all-around talent Trevor Brazile, Blessing and Gasperson focus on steer roping. Both have qualified for the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping three times, so they know what it means to be among the elite in their chosen profession. They also know what it means to compete at their hometown rodeo.

“Being closer to home is always better,” said Gasperson, who qualified for the finals in 2003, ’08 and ’11. “Anytime we can get a rodeo in this area that has steer roping, it brings in a lot more contestants. It’s a lot better for us, because we don’t have the fuel expense.

“Bridgeport the last three years has gotten to be a good rodeo, especially for that time of year. For us that are from around here, you’re going to draw y our family and friends, which is going to make the rodeo bigger. I think that’s going to make the rodeo that much better.”

Blessing, a teacher at McCarroll Middle School in Decatur, adores the idea of traveling just seven miles to compete.

“It’s huge,” said Blessing, who qualified for the NFSR in 2002, ’05 and ’07. “I’m really glad the people in Bridgeport have a ProRodeo and steer roping. For steer ropers, we’ll have to travel all over the country to just compete, and we don’t have a lot of real close ones. It’s nice that they can have steer roping in Bridgeport. There are a lot of guys in this area that compete in that.”

Blessing is ranked among the top 10, and he’d love to stay there in order to compete in the finale in November. That’s a tough road to travel, especially considering he has a full-time job in the Decatur Independent School District.

“I need to have the year I’m having right now,” he said. “This year’s been really good, and my horse is working really good. I’ve only been to four rodeos, but I’ve won money at all four of them.”

The key in rodeo is to take advantage of situations as they arise. While cowboys and cowgirls pay a fee in order to compete at every rodeo, only the very best walk away from the arena with money.

“I think it’s great that people from so close to home will get together and have a good rodeo for us cowboys to make some money,” Tuf Cooper said. “When they do that for us, it makes it a good rodeo for the fans.”

postheadericon Passion brings Bridgeport rodeo to form

BRIDGEPORT, Texas – When Loydd Williams looks around, he sees home and family.

That’s Wise County in general. More specifically, it’s Bridgeport. And, really, it doesn’t matter if he’s in Fort Worth or Oklahoma City or on any highway in between; Williams will tell people about home.

It’s one of many reasons why he’s part of the community’s annual Butterfield Stage Days, serving as chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual ProRodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, May 10-11, at Bridgeport Riding Club Arena.

“The reason I volunteer is because I try to give something back to my hometown and give back to the sport I love and that’s brought so much enjoyment to me and my family,” Williams said.

Williams is the lead person on the 25-member volunteer committee that works year-round in order to put on the best show possible for fans in north Texas. From meeting with sponsors and potential contributors to setting up the arena for competition, the key workers are men and women who donate their time and talent for the annual celebration.

“This is our seventh year with the ProRodeo,” Williams said. “Three years prior to that, we had a team roping, so we’re right at 10 years that we’ve been doing something with the goal of bringing more people into Wise County and into Bridgeport.”

He got started in rodeo at age 16, when he was introduced to roping by good friend Billy Fred Walker. Since then, it’s been a big part of his life, and he’s quite happy it has.

“I wouldn’t take a million  bucks for the experience I got in raising a kid around rodeo,” he said, referring to his son, J.C., who has competed at nearby Weatherford (Texas) College. “Getting to see J.C. qualify for the Texas Circuit Finals and the All American finals while he was still in college is something you just can’t buy. That means the world to me.”
And that passion for the sport has continued to be a driving force for Williams. He strives each year to have the Bridgeport rodeo be recognized as one of the best in the country.

“I think we all work really hard to be an event that even if I’m 200 miles away from home and tell someone I’m from Bridgeport, that they’ll say, ‘Man, that’s a good rodeo there,’ ” he said.

That takes a solid workforce of people willing to put in the hours and effort.

“When the rodeo’s over, we’ll get back together around the first of July, go over financials and start the process all over,” Williams said. “You don’t get much of a break on these kinds of productions.

“The core of our committee is the seven individuals who take the leadership roles. They’re on task; they take their tasks, and they do them with pride.”

From publicity to fund-raising to tackling whatever assignments come up, all the work is done by people who have a passion for the community and for the legacy of Butterfield Stage Days.

“When it gets closer to rodeo time, all those pieces come together,” Williams said. “Everybody wants to do it, and they love what they do. We’ve got the best attitudes of any committee I’ve seen.

“It’s a love for it and a love for bringing something back to the community. When it comes together, it’s fun that weekend in May, but each one takes their piece of the puzzle and makes it work.”

postheadericon Young scores win for Rangers

ALVA, Okla. – It’s been a while since Trey Young was in the winner’s circle at a Central Plains Region event.

That changed last weekend when the Northwestern Oklahoma State University cowboy won the tie-down roping title at the Southwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo in Weatherford. Young roped and tied two calves in 19.9 seconds, edging Oklahoma Panhandle State University’s Caleb Bullock by one-tenth of a second to claim the title.

Trey Young

Trey Young

Young, of Dupree, S.D., hadn’t been atop the leaderboard since February 2012. But it’s an important step for the young cowboy with just two rodeos remaining this season – the university’s men’s and women’s rodeo teams compete at the Fort Hays (Kan.) State University rodeo this weekend, then will perform at the Panhandle State rodeo next week to conclude this season’s campaign.

That means there will be much scrambling to gain important points in order to qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo, set for June in Casper, Wyo. Only the top two teams in the region qualify full squads for the finals, while the top four in each event earn the right to compete for the most coveted prizes in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.

For his part, Young earned 120 points by winning in Weatherford. He sits seventh in the region standings; he’s on the outside looking it, but he has a chance to move into the top four with a fantastic finish. He wasn’t the only Northwestern cowboy to earn valuable points, joining fellow tie-down roper Ryan Domer of Topeka, Kan., who finished sixth; steer wrestler Tee Hale of White Owl, S.D., fourth; and heeler Dustin Searcy of Mooreland, Okla., second.

Searcy is another Ranger cowboy who is in contention to qualify for the college finals, sitting fifth in the heeling standings. But he’ll need to take care of business over the next two weekends in order to be one of the qualifiers.

The Rangers women fared a little better than the men in Weatherford. The women’s team finished second to Southwestern, powered by barrel racers Alexis Allen of Alva, who placed second, and Micah Samples of Abilene, Kan., who finished third. Goat-tier Karley Kile of Topeka finished seventh.

Allen sits fourth in the region barrel racing standings, while Samples is fifth. Kile is fourth among regional goat tiers, while breakaway roper Jessica Koppitz of Alva is No. 1.

postheadericon There are 952 reasons to enjoy Guymon

Since 2001, I’ve held a close tie to the Guymon (Okla.) Pioneer Days Rodeo, and I’m very proud of what happens in the Oklahoma Panhandle every spring.

This year, I’m proud to report that there are 952 entrants into this year’s rodeo. Those are amazing numbers, but the format seems to work well for everyone involved. There is enough “added” money to make the purse attractive for the sport’s best contestants, and the time of year allows for a great opportunity for hundreds to compete.

Guymon Pioneer Days LogoMy initial trip to Guymon’s rodeo took place that May with the support of Melyn Johnson, who worked for the city and talked me into covering the event for the state’s largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. I returned to Guymon a year later to take in the largest event in the region because it was home to the world’s greatest cowboys for a given week.

Because the newspaper decided to “bury” rodeo coverage, I missed the annual event in 2003 and 2004. I’ve been back for that rodeo in some form or fashion every year since. Since 2006, I’ve worked with the committee to help promote each edition of Pioneer Days Rodeo. It was the first contract for my business, Rodeo Media Relations; it continues to be a major part of who I am and what I do.

I’m honestly blessed by the relationships I have developed in the Oklahoma Panhandle, the most significant, of course, being with my wife. I met Lynette when she was on the committee in 2001, but we were nothing more than acquaintances until 2005. Now she’s my everything: My partner, my love, my biggest critic, my biggest cheerleader and the mother of my children.

In Guymon, just as the case with every other rodeo I work, the goal is to draw bigger crowds. We’ve done that, and what fans have learned is that there’s a Wrangler National Finals Rodeo-caliber showcase every performance. It’s been that way for a number of years, and I hope even more people show up at Hitch Arena the first weekend of May.

They’ll see rodeo’s biggest and brightest stars compete at one of the most prestigious rodeos in the area every year.

postheadericon Rodeo stands on concessions’ success

GUYMON, Okla. – Some jobs just seem thankless, yet they still need to be done.

Welcome to the world of Danna Danner, Kristina Rodman and Heather Hoeffner. Danner and Rodman are in charge of concessions, while Hoeffner is in charge of the hospitality during the weeklong celebration that is the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, set for Monday, April 29-Sunday, May 5 at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena.

From organizing to ordering to planning the schedules of the other volunteers, it all falls on those three ladies.

“It’s a drug for me,” Rodman said. “I get a high from the adrenaline rush we get when we bust our butts. It’s just fun to run non-stop. The next week we’re about to die, but we do enjoy running like crazy that week.”

Guymon Pioneer Days LogoThey must. Concessions are a valuable piece of the puzzle for any event. Fans who come to take in a show want refreshments. Oftentimes, it’s where they eat as a family as they enjoy their time in the stands. At a rodeo, the need for concessions increases because the competitors also are part of the crowd.

“I like being part of it and putting something back into the community,” said Danner, who became a member of the volunteer committee five years ago, then talked Rodman into joining her. “I just love it, and I love volunteering. It’s a rush to meet the deadlines.”

Their task is one of the most valuable assignments, too. The committee purchases all the food and drinks that they expect to serve over the seven days of competition, which is highlighted by the four performances set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The profit is mixed with ticket sales and sponsorship money to pay all the expenses it takes to produce an event of this magnitude in the Oklahoma Panhandle.

“Danna and Kristina do an amazing job with the concessions, because it takes so much to make it work every year,” said Earl Helm, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the rodeo. “We have a lot of committee members and volunteers who put in countless hours to make our rodeo work, and I appreciate all of them and what they do.

“The concessions are so vital to our rodeo, and so are Danna and Kristina.”

Rodman and Danner are the spark plugs that run the engine, but there are numerous parts. There are two others who have stepped into leadership roles on the concessions sub-committee, and there are numerous others who make the machine click during rodeo week.

“To run a concession, we have to have 23 people to volunteer throughout the community,” Danner said. “The OPSU football players help us a lot.”

The help is necessary and appreciated. The rodeo is part of the community’s annual celebration, Pioneer Days, and serves as the largest event in the Oklahoma Panhandle with an economic impact of about $2 million. In addition to the thousands of fans who come to see the family-friendly entertainment, Guymon is home to nearly 1,000 cowboys and cowgirls who are coming to the region to compete at Oklahoma’s Richest Rodeo.

“We make a lot of money for the committee to help put this thing on,” Rodman said. “It’s very awesome to see our progress. I like knowing we can turn something around and make it successful. I like that we gave it a better name; it makes me proud when the other committee members tell us how well we’re doing and they’re scared that we’ll ever quit.

“That tells me we’re doing a good job, and that’s important to me.”

It’s important to the community, too.

“This is our 81st year as a rodeo, and as far as a community event, it helps with businesses,” Danner said. “We’ll have people hitting the stores, the gas stations, the restaurants because there are so many people in town.

“Pioneer Days has been here so long, it’s just part of Guymon. I can’t imagine the community without it. It’s important to me just being able to be part of it and knowing I’ve contributed to our community. We work our butts off, but that’s what makes us tick.”

The hospitality area is set up for contestants, personnel and sponsors who make the rodeo what it is, and Guymon’s has regularly been recognized by contestants as one of the best events in ProRodeo.

“I think people appreciate the hard work that we do to prepare everything,” said Hoeffner, who works closely with her husband, Ed, and Lanny and Vicki Wilson on the hospitality. “Every person that we talked to last year knew how much work went into it. They saw the hard work and the smiling faces that are serving them food.”

The Hoeffners and Wilsons brought a flavor of home to the metal-covered building. Though generous restaurant sponsors donated food, the personal touch was a hit with the contestants, families and friends of the rodeo.

“We wanted to change it to where it was home-cooked and where they could sit down and enjoy,” Heather Hoeffner said. “We probably have six to eight people that helped every night every year, but we have all kinds of other volunteers from the community that help with other things.

“We just want the people coming in to really enjoy themselves, and we work hard to make that happen.”

That’s what volunteering is all about.

postheadericon Open roping coming to Guymon

Guymon Pioneer Days LogoThe Open Team Roping is just one of the great events taking place in conjunction with this year’s Guymon (Okla.) Pioneer Days Roping. The first 120 teams must enter by noon Wednesday, May 1. Entry fees are $300 per team, and each cowboy can enter twice; it is a three-head progressive. The competition will begin at 5 p.m. Thursday, May 2, at Hitch Arena.

The annual Classic Events Championship will follow, featuring 10 cowboys that will compete in steer roping and saddle bronc riding. A free calf, fish and hamburger fry for contestants and sponsors will take place Wednesday evening. Tough Enough to Wear Pink night is Friday, May 3. We’ll have the best bucking stock from Carr Pro Rodeo, Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo, Korkow Rodeos and Powder River Rodeo.

Bring your family for a week-long celebration and fun.

postheadericon RNCFR a showcase for Carr stars

Curtis Garton rides Pete Carr's Classic Pro Rodeo's Big Tex for 86 points to win the saddle bronc riding national championship at the 2013 Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo. It was the third straight year Big Tex led a cowboy to the national title - he and Bobby Mote matched for the bareback riding title in 2011, and Sam Spreadborough won bronc riding in 2012 on big bay gelding. (JAMES PHIFER PHOTO)

Curtis Garton rides Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Big Tex for 86 points to win the saddle bronc riding national championship at the 2013 Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo. It was the third straight year Big Tex led a cowboy to the national title – he and Bobby Mote matched for the bareback riding title in 2011, and Sam Spreadborough won bronc riding in 2012 on big bay gelding. (JAMES PHIFER PHOTO)

Big Tex leads a cowboy to national title for the third straight year

OKLAHOMA CITY – The final-four round of the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo featured many of the top bucking horses and bulls in the sport.

But nearly every cowboy inside State Fair Arena had their eyes on two great bucking beasts: Big Tex and Dirty Jacket. Both are among the elite animal athletes in ProRodeo, and they’re owned by Texas-based stock contractor Pete Carr.

Curtis Garton

Curtis Garton

“Coming into this rodeo, they asked me what was my dream draw,” said Curtis Garton, a Kaitaia, New Zealand, cowboy now living in Lake Charles, La. “I didn’t have to think about that: Big Tex.”

The dream came true in the final round. Garton matched moves with the bay gelding from Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo for 86 points to win the round at ProRodeo’s national championship. Overall, he won $19,332 in Oklahoma City and a $20,000 voucher to be used for the purchase of a Ram truck or other Chrysler vehicle.

“I can’t even explain how happy I am,” Garton said. “It’s a huge thing. This rodeo right here is one of the biggest rodeos in the nation. Las Vegas is the Super Bowl of rodeo, and then this one. For me to be able to win that buckle and get on that great horse and to be national champion of the Ram Circuit Finals is just amazing.”

The victory marked the third straight year that Big Tex guided a cowboy to the championship. Two years ago, bareback rider Bobby Mote won his first RNCFR title after an 87-point ride on Big Tex, who was just a few months removed from being crowned the 2010 PRCA Bareback riding Horse of the Year.

Last April, Australian saddle bronc rider Sam Spreadborough won the RNCFR title with an 86.

“They just got done winning San Antonio on him; they won Houston on him,” said Garton, who shared the semifinal-round victory with an 82-point ride atop Carr Pro Rodeo’s Empty Pockets. “He’s just an amazing horse. He’s big and just loves to buck.

“I just thank the Lord that it all worked out.”

Jared Keylon

Jared Keylon

Combined, RNCFR contestants won more than $30,000 on animals owned by Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo and Carr Pro Rodeo. That’s the kind of livestock that cowboys can see at the 33 rodeos the firms will produce in 2013.

That’s a good thing for bareback rider Jared Keylon, a Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Uniontown, Kan., who was quite thankful for his final-round match-up with Carr Pro Rodeo’s Dirty Jacket, a 9-year-old bay gelding.

Though he didn’t win the national title, Keylon shared the round win Mote, who won the national title through the tie-breaker – Mote won the semifinal round, which gave him the slight edge over Keylon for the top prize.

Still, Keylon earned the lion’s share of the money with $14,533, thanks in large part to his 87-point ride on Dirty Jacket, which voted as the runner-up reserve champion bareback horse in the PRCA and the Texas Circuit Bareback of the Year for 2012. Last weekend, he was named the top bareback horse of the RNCFR.

“After that semifinal round when I came off so run, I had dirt all over my face, and I was feeling pretty rough,” Keylon said. “I got in the locker room, and I just kept saying to myself, ‘I hope I get Dirty Jacket; I hope I get Dirty Jacket.’ ”

It was the first time the two great athletes have been matched, and the tournament-style championship was the perfect place for Keylon and Dirty Jacket to show off their talent for a national audience.

“It was great to finally get on that horse,” Keylon said. “I’ve been dreaming about getting on that horse. He felt better than I ever dreamed.”

postheadericon Repeat performance OK for Mote

Bobby Mote rides Southwick Rocky Mtn. Rodeo's Hard Times for 87 points to share the final-round victory with Jared Keylon on Saturday night during the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo. Mote won his second national championship, earning the title through the tie-breaker system. It was the second time in three years he had done that in Oklahoma City. (JAMES PHIFER PHOTO)

Bobby Mote rides Southwick Rocky Mtn. Rodeo’s Hard Times for 87 points to share the final-round victory with Jared Keylon on Saturday night during the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo. Mote won his second national championship, earning the title through the tie-breaker system. It was the second time in three years he had done that in Oklahoma City. (JAMES PHIFER PHOTO)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Bobby Mote has been in this position before.

Actually, it was just two years ago during the 2011 Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo. Mote, a four-time world champion bareback rider from Culver, Ore., won the semifinals, then shared the final-round victory.

Déjà vu.

Bobby Mote

Bobby Mote

On Saturday night at State Fair Arena, Mote rode Mo Betta Rodeo’s Wind Walker for 83 points to win the semifinal round of ProRodeo’s National Championship. About an hour later in the finals, Mote matched moves with Southwick’s Rocky Mtn. Rodeo’s Hard Times for 87 points, a score that was matched by Jared Keylon of Uniontown, Kan., on Carr Pro Rodeo’s Dirty Jacket.

The tie may go to the runner in baseball, but it goes to the semifinal-round winner in this tournament-style rodeo format. Keylon has posted an 81 on Rafter G Rodeo’s Assault in the semifinals.

“I guess that’s the way it’s been,” said Mote, whose only two national championships have come in the three years the RNCFR has taken place in Oklahoma City’s historic State Fair Arena. “I’ll take it any way I can.”

Mote actually squeaked into the Saturday night field in eighth place based on his two-round cumulative score – of the 24 qualifiers in each event, only the top eight earned the right to compete in the final performance.

“I almost went home yesterday, because I was fifth in the average; I thought there was no way I was going to make it back,” he said. “My wife talked me into staying. We went to the zoo today, and I got a text that I made it back eighth.

“With this format, it doesn’t really matter as long as you make it back.”

Mote actually rode three horses Saturday night; he was awarded a re-ride in the finals after the flank strap fell off his first horse, Painted Pony Rodeo’s Festus.

“He’s one they win on quite a bit,” Mote said of Hard Times. “I didn’t really know him, but I didn’t really have time to think about it.”

Mote is one of three world champions who won this year’s RNCFR title, joining heeler Jade Corkill of Fallon, Nev., and barrel racer Brittany Pozzi of Victoria, Texas. Pozzi repeated her title, joining tie-down roping champion Matt Shiozawa of Chubbuck, Idaho, in defending their 2012 crowns. Other winners were steer wrestler Ethen Thouvenell of Wittman, Ariz.; header Shane Erickson of Terrebonne, Ore.; bull rider John Young of Orient, Iowa; and saddle bronc rider Curtis Garton, a New Zealand cowboy now living in Louisiana.

Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo
April 4-6, Oklahoma City
Bareback riding:
Semifinals: 1. Bobby Mote, Culver, Ore., 83 points on Mo Betta’s Wind Walker, $5,484; 2. (tie) Jessy Davis, Power, Mont., and Jared Keylon, Uniontown, Kan., 81, $3,428 each; 4. Wes Stevenson, Lubbock, Texas, 80, $1,371. Finals: 1. (tie) Bobby Mote, Culver, Ore., on Southwick’s Rocky Mtn. Rodeo’s Hard Times, and Jared Keylon, Uniontown, Kan., on Carr Pro Rodeo’s Dirty Jacket, 87, $4,799; 3. Wes Stevenson, Lubbock, Texas, 84, $2,742; 4. Jessy Davis, Power, Mont., 78, $1,371. Overall earnings: 1. Jared Keylon, Uniontown, Kan., $14,533; 2. Bobby Mote, Culver, Ore., $10,283; 3. Tim O’Connell, Zwingle, Iowa, $10,192; 4. Caleb Bennett, Morgan, Utah, $9,598; 5. Jessy Davis, Power, Mont., $5,793; 6. Wes Stevenson, Lubbock, Texas, $4,285; 7. Kaycee Feild, Spanish Fork, Utah, $3,976; 8. Joe Gunderson, Agar, S.D., $3,748; 9.Clint Cannon, Waller, Texas, $3,291; 10. Casey Colletti, Pueblo, Colo., $1,691; 11. (tie) Caine Riddle, Vernon, Texas, and Tyson Thompson, Bradley, Calif., $411 each; 13. (tie) George Gillespie IV, Placerville, Calif., and Zach Curran, Pavillion, Wyo., $171

Steer wrestling: Semifinals: 1. Seth Brockman, Wheatland, Wyo., 3.5 seconds, $5,484; 2. Dean Gorsuch, Gering, Neb., 3.8, $4,113; 3. Ethen Thouvenell, Wittmann, Ariz., 4.2, $2,742; 4. Stockton Graves, Alva, Okla., 4.3, $1,371. Finals: 1. Ethen Thouvenell, Wittmann, Ariz., 3.5 seconds, $5,484; 2. Stockton Graves, Alva, Okla., 14.2, $4,113; no other qualified times. Overall earnings: 1. Ethen Thouvenell, Wittmann, Ariz., $14,396; 2. Dean Gorsuch, Gering, Neb., $11,791;3. Stockton Graves, Alva, Okla., $9,598; 4. Jason Miller, Lance Creek, Wyo., $9,049; 5. Seth Brockman, Wheatland, Wyo., $7,267; 6. Sean Santucci, Prineville, Ore., $5,073; 7. Clayton Hass, Terrell, Texas, $4,525; 8. Jon Ragatz, Beetown, Wis., $2,057;9. (tie) Nik Hamm, Rapid City, S.D., and Trevor Duhon, Phoenix, Ariz., $343 each.

Tie-down roping: Semifinals: 1. Scott Kormos, Teague, Texas, 7.4 seconds, $5,484; 2. Matt Shiozawa, Chubbuck, Idaho, 8.5, $4,113; 3. Shane Erickson, Terrebonne, Ore., 8.6, $2,742;4. Jody Green, Shakopee, Minn., 9.0, $1,371. Finals: 1. Matt Shiozawa, Chubbuck, Idaho, 9.0 seconds, $5,484; 2. Scott Kormos, Teague, Texas, 9.1, $4,113; 3. Shane Erickson, Terrebonne, Ore., 10.8, $2,742; no other qualified times. Overall earnings: 1. Matt Shiozawa, Chubbuck, Idaho, $20,566; 2. Scott Kormos, Teague, Texas, $15,493; 3. Shane Erickson, Terrebonne, Ore., $11,928; 4. Bryson Sechrist, Apache, Okla., $5,279; 5. Jared Ferguson, Cottonwood, Calif., $4,525; 6. Jesse Clark, Portales, N.M., $3,359; 7. Dane Kissack, Spearfish, S.D., $2,331; 8. Jody Green, Shakopee, Minn., $1,371; 9. Tim Pharr, Resaca, Ga., $960; 10. (tie) Bryant Mikkelson, Buffalo, Mont., and Chase Johnston, Kersey, Colo., $686 each.

Saddle bronc riding: Semifinals: 1. (tie) Curtis Garton, New Zealand, on Rafter G Rodeo’s Billings, and Cody Taton, Corona, N.M., on Painted Pony Champ. Rodeo’s NY Mega Millions, $4,799; 3. Jacobs Crawley, College Station, Texas, 82, $2,742; 4. Taos Muncy, Corona, N.M., 79, $1,371. Finals: 1. Curtis Garton, New Zealand, 86 points on Pete Carr’s Classic ProRodeo’s Big Tex, $5,484; 2. Taos Muncy, Corona, N.M., 82, $4,113; 3. Cody Taton, Corona, N.M., 77, $2,742; no other qualified scores. Overall earnings: 1. Curtis Garton, New Zealand, $19,332; 2. Taos Muncy, Corona, N.M., $17,413; 3. Cody Taton, Corona, N.M., $8,958; 4. Jacobs Crawley, College Station, Texas, $5,553; 5. Bradley Harter, Weatherford, Texas, $4,525; 6. Mert Bradshaw, Eagle Point, Ore., $4,113; 7. Jake Wright, Milford, Utah, $3,999; 8. Troy Crowser, Whitewood, S.D., $1,303; 9. Cole Elshere, Faith, S.D., $960; 10. Jesse Wright, Milford, Utah, $571; 11. (tie) Andy Clarys, Riverton, Wyo., and Joaquin Real, Woody, Calif., $229.

Team roping: Semifinals: 1. Shane Erickson, Terrebonne, Ore./Jade Corkill, Fallon, Nev., 5.0 seconds, $5,484; 2. (tie) Spencer Mitchell, Colusa, Calif./Russell Cardoza, Terrebonne, Ore., and Nelson Linares, Plant City, Fla./Shawn Harris, Searcy, Ark., 5.2, $3,428; 4. Marcus Battaglia, Ramona, Calif./Kyle Lockett, Visalia, Calif., 5.3, $1,371. Finals: 1. Shane Erickson, Terrebonne, Ore./Jade Corkill, Fallon, Nev., 6.1 seconds, $5,484; 2. Nelson Linares, Plant City, Fla./Shawn Harris, Searcy, Ark., 6.5, $4,113; no other qualified times. Overall earnings: 1. Shane Erickson, Terrebonne, Ore./Jade Corkill, Fallon, Nev., $13,574; 2. Nelson Linares, Plant City, Fla./Shawn Harris, Searcy, Ark., $9,872; 3. Erich Rogers, Round Rock, Ariz./Nick Sarchett, Phoenix, Ariz., $6,993; 4. Derrick Begay, Seba Dalkai, Ariz./Cesar de la Cruz, Tucson, Ariz., $5,896; 5. Preston Billadeau, Parshall, N.D./Jared Bilby, Bridgeport, Neb., $4,525; 6. Miles Kobold, Billings, Mont./Matt Robertson, Augusta, , $4,387; 7. Spencer Mitchell, Colusa, Calif./Russell Cardoza, Terrebonne, Ore., $4,113; 8. (tie) Troy Kitchener, Liberty, Mo./Chad Mathes, Lawson, Mo., and Hunter Munsell, Arnett, Okla./Derrick Jantzen, Ames, Okla., $3,976; 10. Jay Tittel, Pueblo, Colo./Shay Carroll, La Junta, Colo., $3,428; 11. Marcus Battaglia, Ramona, Calif./Kyle Lockett, Visalia, Calif., $2,057; 12. Arky Rogers, Lipan, Texas/Joel Bach, Rhome, Texas, $1,645.

Barrel racing: Semifinals: 1. Brittany Pozzi, Victoria, Texas, 15.48 seconds, $5,484; 2. Nancy Hunter, Neola, Utah, 15.63, $4,113; 3. Carlee Pierce, Stephenville, Texas, 15.70, $2,742; 4. Cindy Smith, Hobbs, N.M., 15.94, $1,371. Finals: 1. Brittany Pozzi, Victoria, Texas, 15.35 seconds, $5,484; 2. Carlee Pierce, Stephenville, Texas, 15.55, $4,113; 3. Cindy Smith, Hobbs, N.M., 15.59, $2,742; 4. Nancy Hunter, Neola, Utah, 20.54, $1,371. Overall earnings: 1. Carlee Pierce, Stephenville, Texas, $20,429; 2. Brittany Pozzi, Victoria, Texas, $18,784; 3. Cindy Smith, Hobbs, N.M., $9,598; 4. Nancy Hunter, Neola, Utah, $6,170; 5. Theresa Walter, Billings, Mont., $4,113; 6. Barbara Merrill, Axtell, Utah, $3,153; 7. Tana Renick, Kingston, Okla., $2,057; 8. Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, S.D., $1,920; 9. Sherry Cannon, Saint Augustine, Fla., $1,645; 10. Pamela Capper, Cheney, Wash., $686.

Bull riding: Semifinals: 1. Joe Frost, Randlett, Utah, 81 points on D&H Cattle’s Paradise, $5,484; no other qualified times. Finals: 1.John Young, Orient, Iowa, 87 points on Andrews Rodeo’s Spin Cycle, $5,484; no other qualified times. Overall earnings: 1. John Young, Orient, Iowa, $17,961; 2. Joe Frost, Randlett, Utah, $8,912; 3. Dylan Werner, Perry, Fla., $6,993; 4. Bryce Brown, Greenview, Calif., $6,581; 5. Tag Elliott, Thatcher, Utah, $5,073; 6. Sammy Matthews, Springville, Calif., $2,331; 7. Abe Dillman, Grassy Butte, N.D., $960.

postheadericon Semifinals for team roping

Team roping: Semifinals: 1. Shane Erickson, Terrebonne, Ore./Jade Corkill, Fallon, Nev., 5.0 seconds, $5,484; 2. (tie) Spencer Mitchell, Colusa, Calif./Russell Cardoza, Terrebonne, Ore., and Nelson Linares, Plant City, Fla./Shawn Harris, Searcy, Ark., 5.2, $3,428; 4. Marcus Battaglia, Ramona, Calif./Kyle Lockett, Visalia, Calif., 5.3, $1,371.