postheadericon Aussie takes bulldogging lead

HEMPSTEAD, Texas – Along the northeastern coast of Queensland, Australia, lies the coastal city of Townsville.

It’s a long way from Hempstead, but the Waller County Fair and Rodeo is just where Kodie Jang wanted to be on opening night of the rodeo. On Thursday night, the Australian steer wrestler tossed his steer to the ground in 4.6 seconds to take the early bulldogging lead.

“I hope that hangs on and gets a check before the weekend’s over,” said Jang, 25.

The young cowboy began wrestling steers nearly five years ago in Australia. He quickly moved to the United States to compete at Western Texas College in Snyder. He hasn’t stopped since and has only returned to his homeland for Christmas 2015.

Kodie Jang

Kodie Jang

“It’s hard to be away from my mom, dad, little brother and grandparents,” he said. “But I’m out here chasing my dreams.”

He’s working his way up. He traveled the rodeo trail for the 2018 season with veteran Matt Reeves, a six-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Cross Plains, Texas. He even rode Reeves’ horses; he kick-started his 2019 season in Hempstead on Roy, a talented sorrel gelding Reeves’ wins at The American in February and at the Calgary (Alberta) Stampede in July.

“I’m traveling with him again this year,” Jang said of Reeves. “I ride his horses, and they’re phenomenal. Matt’s been there and done that, and he’s really positive. When times are tough, he keeps me going.

“It’s important for me to be with him. He’s been everywhere. He’s been places I want to go, and he helps me along the way. I’m very thankful he lets me ride his horses.”

When he began the 2018 season a year ago, Jang’s goals were to qualify for the RAM Texas Circuit Finals Rodeo, which takes place each July in Waco, Texas. He earned the right to battle at the regional championship, but he’s got bigger plans for the 2019 season.

“I actually went out rodeoing with Matt and a couple of other guys just to get my feet wet and experience life on the rodeo trail,” he said. “Now that I’ve met that goal to qualify for the circuit finals, I’m going to bear down and try to make the (NFR).”

Jang’s feet are plenty wet, and he proved that Thursday night at the Waller County Fair and Rodeo.

 

Waller County Fair and Rodeo
Oct. 4-6
Hempstead, Texas
Bareback riding:
1. Zach Hibler, 77 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Rosemary; 2. Leighton Berry, 73.5; no other qualified scores

Steer wrestling: 1. Kodie Jang, 4.6 seconds; 2. Matt Reeves, 4.8; 3. Sam Powers, 6.1; 4. Heath Thomas, 6.3; 5. Don Payne, 13.6; no other qualified times.

Team roping: 1. Clay Tryan/Travis Graves, 4.6 seconds; 2. Laramie Allen/McCoy Profili, 5.4; 3. Joe Beaver/Cody Thornton, 6.6; 4. Charley Crawford/Cole Davison, 9.7; no other qualified times.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Dean Wadsworth, 77.5 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Red Root; 2. Jarrod Hammons, 74; 3. Parker Fleet, 72.5; no other qualified rides.

Tie-down roping leaders: 1. Ricky Canton, 8.4 seconds; 2. Troy Reese Jr., 9.3; 3. Ty Heath Iselt, 9.5; 4. Bo Pickett, 9.8; 5. Jayce Johnson, 10.8; 6. Colton Stone, 13.0; 7. Clay Long, 14.5; no other qualified times.

Barrel racing leaders: 1. Jennifer Sharp, 14.96 seconds; 2. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 15.00; 3. Halyn Lide, 15.07; 4. Tasha Welsh, 15.57; 5. Lynette Clyde, 19.65; 6. Sydney Surin, 20.20; no other qualified times.

Bull riding: 1. Dakota Louis, 83.5 points on PR Rodeo’s Roulette; 2. Dalan Dunca, 83; 3. Gavin Michel, 82; no other qualified scores.

postheadericon Simas a key part of circuit finale

Greg Simas returns to Duncan, Okla., in two weeks to call the action at the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo for the third year in a row. (PHOTO COURTESY OF GREG SIMAS)

Greg Simas returns to Duncan, Okla., in two weeks to call the action at the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo for the third year in a row. (PHOTO COURTESY OF GREG SIMAS)

DUNCAN, Okla. – There are many things to describe Greg Simas.

He’s a husband and father.

He’s a Marine.

He’s a rodeo announcer

It’s the latter that plays quite well in this community every October. For the third straight year, Simas will be the voice of the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18-Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Stephens County Arena in Duncan.

“For me, being a fan of rodeo, the Prairie Circuit Finals is a mini-NFR,” he said of ProRodeo’s grand finale, which features the top 15 from the world standings in each event. “You’re going to see some of the best cowboys in the game – world champions, Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifiers and many that will be NFR qualifiers.

“When you work the Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, the odds are you have a contestant in every event that has been or will be going to the NFR. That’s exciting.”

Simas isn’t from this part of the world. He was raised in northern California and joined the U.S. Marine Corps. He now lives in Danville, Pa., with his wife, Jen, and their three sons, Tyler, Riley and Kaden. Rodeo is how he makes a living and supports his family, but there’s more to it.

Simas is more than a fan. He returns for the second straight year as the voice of the regional finale, and he brings the emotion and knowledge to the game that fans in Duncan expect when they see the best of the best in action.

“What’s great is the level of competition in Duncan,” he said. “Then you take the contestants and add all the great stock contractors, and you have NFR-caliber livestock. For me and the rodeo fans – for those who can’t make it to Vegas in December for the NFR – they can go to the Stephens County Arena and see some world-class caliber entertainment.”

It’s true, but it helps that Simas’ voice helps provide a championship feel to the competition and entertainment. Maybe it’s his years of service as a Marine, where he also learned to ride bulls. Maybe it’s that his father was a competitor in California. Most likely, though, it’s because of his love for the game.

“Every rodeo I’ve worked outside of the Northeastern part of the United States, I’ve been asked to come back,” Simas said. “I’m very proud to have overcome the stereotype that people in that part of the country don’t know rodeo as well. The dedication and commitment I learned in the Marine Corps has kept me charging forward.

While there are hours of homework on the contestants and livestock involved in the game, Simas has found joy in every aspect of his job. It’s a telling tribute to his passion.

“Every announcer says that we have the best seat in the house,” he said. “I agree with that. For me, though, it’s like golf in a way. There’s nobody that could ever perfect it.

“When I leave a rodeo, there’s always something I learn from. I can have the best performance in my life, but I leave knowing I can do even better the next time. As long as I stay humble and gracious about the opportunities God provides for me, then I think I can always find a way to get better.”

Those sentiments are why he has established himself as bona fide announcer in ProRodeo. His mentality and preparation make him the perfect fit for the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo.

postheadericon Volunteers are valuable to rodeo

The hard-working volunteers of Austin County Fair's rodeo try to make the event a top-level rodeo each October and draw the top athletes to Bellville. Clayton Foltyn, a three-time Wrangler National Finals  Rodeo qualifier, rides during the 2017 event. (PHOTO BY PEGGY GANDER)

The hard-working volunteers of Austin County Fair’s rodeo try to make the event a top-level rodeo each October and draw the top athletes to Bellville. Clayton Foltyn, a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier, rides during the 2017 event. (PHOTO BY PEGGY GANDER)

BELLVILLE, Texas – They’re small, but they’re mighty.

The Austin County Fair’s rodeo committee consists of just 14 members, but they care about one thing: They want Bellville’s rodeo to be one of the very best in southeast Texas every year.

The annual rodeo – set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11-Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Austin County Fairgrounds in Bellville – is well on its way, thanks in large part to the hard-working few who handle all the heavy lifting leading up to rodeo week.

“We need every one of our volunteers to make this happen,” said Ricky Huff, chairman of the committee. “They’re all important to us. The one thing we’ve done over the years is pick the hard workers and someone who knows what’s going on.”

Both traits have created a solid foundation that dates back decades. Huff has been part of the group for 32 years, so he has seen a great deal in those three-plus decades. His experience comes in handy, but he knows he can lean on all the others when the time comes.

From gathering sponsorships to preparing the arena, there are many tasks that take place in order to produce a world-class rodeo. Each member of the committee takes great pride in all that happens in Bellville every October. As soon as last year’s event ended, the group gathered together to begin the planning for this year’s rodeo.

“We work year around,” said Dusty Kendrick, a longtime member of the rodeo committee. “We take on big projects from time to time, and when we do, we call people together. We don’t waste time. We get the job done, and everybody goes home.”

Teamwork is the key, and that’s the approach every person takes to each task. While some may not be comfortable working with sponsors, there are others that take up the slack. Plus, there are other things that might need attention.

“Some people just can’t ask for money,” Huff said. “As long as they’re hard workers, we’ll let them do some of the other things while we get the sponsors and get all the banners and flags made. We’ll let them do the work they can handle.”

It’s that mindset that allows the 14 members of the committee work together as a cohesive unit. It’s why Bellville’s rodeo remains a success.

postheadericon Rangers earn 1st win of new season

ALVA, Okla. – Even before he made his decision on what university to attend, Devin Olson knew he wanted to be a steer wrestler.

He was watching The American semifinals in Fort Worth, Texas, a year and a half ago and met Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo coach Stockton Graves. That meeting led the Taylors Falls, Minn., cowboy to choose Northwestern and make the move 800 miles from home to Alva.

“I went home and looked up his name, and it turned out he was the coach here,” Olson said. “I decided that’s where I wanted to go, because he was the one person who was really good at steer wrestling.”

Devin Olson

Devin Olson

He made the right decision and was one of several cowboys behind the Northwestern men’s team title this past weekend at the Southeastern Oklahoma State University rodeo in Durant, Okla. Olson joined fellow bulldoggers Jace Rutledge, Bo Yaussi and Bridger Anderson in the championship round of that event alone. In all, Northwestern held 11 spots in the short round in the men’s race and another five spots in the women’s division.

“I think we can be a really good team,” said Olson, a sophomore. “I know that Bridger is really good. We have so many other good steer wrestlers on this team. I think our steer wrestling group is the best in the nation.”

He may be right. Anderson won the bulldogging in Durant; he finished in a three-way tie for second in the opening round, then won the short-go with a 4.2-second run, which was more than half a second ahead of the runners-up. His two-run cumulative time of 8.9 seconds scored the Carrington, N.D., sophomore his first victory of the new season.

Rutledge placed in both rounds and finished third overall, while Yaussi finished in a tie for second in the final round to move up to fifth in the average. Olson was one of three men who had a 4.7-second run to finish in a tie for second place in the long round.

“’My first run was pretty good, but there were a couple of things I’d like to tweak,” Olson said. “I got out really well on my second run, but when I went to hook the nose, I fell back and it took a bit to get him thrown.”

Yaussi, a recent transfer to Northwestern, also scored points in tie-down roping. He won the first round with an 8.6-second run but failed to secure a time in the championship round. Riley Wakefield placed high in both rounds to win the tie-down roping title.

Wakefield also added 25 points in team roping, heeling for Southeastern’s Denton Halford. The two finished in a tie for fourth place in the first round but suffered a no-time in the short round. Heeler Jeremy Carney was the biggest points earner in team roping for the Rangers, winning the first round with his partner, Laramie Warren of Southeastern. They finished third in the short round and third overall.

The Northwestern tandem of Kass Bittle and Cole Koppitz finished in a tie for second in the short round and placed third overall. Header Tyler Munsell and her partner, Garden City Community College’s Ean Price, were third in the opening round and finished sixth overall. Heeler Tanner Nall, roping with Ethan Griffin of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, placed in a tie for sixth place in the first round.

Makayla Mack led the women’s team by finishing third in both the short round and average inn breakaway roping. Melissa Couture clocked in at 2.6 seconds to finish in a tie in the opening round.

Natalie Berryhill finished second in the first round of barrel racing with a 16.68-second run, while Trinity St. Andrews finished sixth in the short round and average. Goat-tier Megan Turek had a 9.2-second run in the first round to finish in a three-way tie for third, but she was saddled with a no-time in the short round.

Like the other Rangers, Olson has two rodeos under his belt to kick off the new season. He knows he has the support of his teammates and Graves to push him on to the next eight events, two more coming in the fall semester. He’s also got the help from another teammate, his horse, Jimmy.

“My goal at the beginning of the year was to make myself a better steer wrestler, be more competitive and be more consistent in all my runs,” he said. “I want to put in good competitions and make the NFR.

“Jimmy is 27 years old. This will be the fourth year I’ve had him. He puts you in the same spot every single time. This past year, I’ve really clicked with him. I know what he’s going to do. At that age, he’s going to be consistent.”

postheadericon Bull power meets horsepower

Charlotte Motor Speedway will not only host the Bank of America ROVAL 400 on Sunday, it also will be home to the men of Bullfighters Only in a first-of-its-kind collaboration with Speedway Motorsports to bring the two extreme sports together.

Charlotte Motor Speedway will not only host the Bank of America ROVAL 400 on Sunday, it also will be home to the men of Bullfighters Only in a first-of-its-kind collaboration with Speedway Motorsports to bring the two extreme sports together.

Bullfighters Only to be part of Charlotte Motor Speedway race-day experience

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Bullfighters Only is teaming up with Speedway Motorsports to showcase freestyle bullfighting to NASCAR fans for the first time in the sports’ history.

On Sunday, Sept. 30, nine of the BFO’s top athletes will be featured at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Bank of America ROVAL 400. Three qualifying rounds of bullfights will take, with the winner of each advancing to the Hooey Championship Round at 12:15 p.m. Eastern Time.

“At Charlotte Motor Speedway, we’re all about providing added value for our fans, and partners like Bullfighters Only help elevate our major event weekends to new heights,” said Greg Walter, executive vice president of Charlotte Motor Speedway. “With horsepower on display on the track and bull power in the Fan Zone, there truly is something for everyone to enjoy here at America’s Home for Racing.”

The roster is highlighted by veterans Ross Hill, Toby Inman, Kris Furr and two-time reigning world champion Weston Rutkowski. The solid cast of the sport’s rising stars includes Chance Moorman, Tucker Lane and Riley McKetterick, who will all make a bid for the coveted Charlotte title.

“This is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between Bullfighters Only and Speedway Motorsports,” said Aaron Ferguson, founder and CEO of Bullfighters Only. “BFO fits perfect with NASCAR because there’s so much crossover between the two sports and our fans. They’re both high powered and dangerous, with a good chance of seeing some big-time wrecks.”

Bullfighters Only is the premier freestyle bullfighting organization in North America that features the most elite athletes in the sport. It’s a gladiator event, man vs. beast in a battle of athleticism, wit and danger. Bullfighters have 60 seconds to engage an agile and aggressive bull that was bred for this kind of fight.

Each move is countered, and points tell the tale. Bouts are judged on a 100-point scale, with half the points coming from the bull’s aggressiveness, and the rest coming from the bullfighter’s ability to stay close to the bull while maneuvering around and, sometimes, over the animal.

“I think it’s pretty cool that we have an opportunity to show our sport off to NASCAR fans,” said Kris Furr, the fourth-ranked bullfighter in the BFO Pendleton Whisky World Standings. Furr is from Hamptonville, N.C., right in the heart of NASCAR country. “It’s probably the best merger we can have in my opinion.”

It is appropriate that BFO’s first presentation is taking place at this particular race, where for the first time, drivers will battle for Victory Lane by maneuvering around a one-of-a-kind playoff road course.

“People are excited about it,” Furr said. “It’s good to come out to the East Coast and will be an opportunity for a lot of people to see BFO for the first time. Some of my family and friends will finally get to come and watch me compete.”

There is no denying that Bullfighters Only has reignited mainstream interest in freestyle bullfighting, and the popularity is only growing. The Charlotte event will serve as a pilot for potential event partnerships between Bullfighters Only and Speedway Motorsports in 2019 and beyond.

Speedway Motorsports Inc. is a leading marketer, promoter and sponsor of motorsports activities in the United States. The company, through its subsidiaries, owns and operates eight first-class racing facilities in significant markets across the country.

“I think that this is going to open up a bigger and broader fan base for myself and for the BFO,” Furr said. “Being part of these events, you’ve got the opportunity to draw more fans and more sponsors.”

CONTESTANTS
Weston Rutkowski
Toby Inman
Ross Hill
Beau Schueth
Kris Furr
Justin Josey
Riley McKettrick
Tucker Lane
Chance Moorman

postheadericon Lufkin limping to circuit title

Joe Lufkin holds a significant lead in the saddle bronc riding standings heading into the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo. After suffering a compound fracture of his lower left leg, Lufkin has been OK'd to ride during the Oct. 18-20 championship. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Joe Lufkin holds a significant lead in the saddle bronc riding standings heading into the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo. After suffering a compound fracture of his lower left leg, Lufkin has been OK’d to ride during the Oct. 18-20 championship. (COURTESY PHOTO)

DUNCAN, Okla. – A rod and four screws is what holds Joe Lufkin’s lower left leg together.

Lufkin, the 2013 saddle bronc riding year-end champion in the Prairie Circuit, had led the region standings much of the year. He held more than a $7,000 advantage when the regular season concluded in mid-September.

But he was concerned his injury would keep him from riding in the championship, the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18-Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Stephens County Arena in Duncan. Would that be enough to allow Hardy Braden of Welch, Okla., or Tyrel Larsen of Weatherford, Okla., the opportunity to catch him?

“I don’t have to worry about that anymore,” said Lufkin, 25, of Sallisaw, Okla. “The doctor said I should be good to ride. He said it may hurt, but unless I get stepped on, I won’t reinjure my leg by riding.”

Lufkin was injured Sept. 7 in Puyallup, Wash., and surgeons there operated the next day. That metal rod is attached to his left tibia to hold the bone together. But Lufkin’s injury was a compound fracture, meaning the fibula also was broken. That’s where his concern was regarding a return to bronc riding. But doctors are confident that rod will protect both bones.

“I didn’t even need a cast,” he said. “I was put in a walking boot, and they gave me crutches. I’ve been able to walk on it in the boot without the crutches.”

Now he’ll have the chance to ride without them, too. That’s a good thing.

Lufkin has competed strongly all season. He earned nearly $45,000 this season, with more than $17,000 coming in the Oklahoma-Kansas-Nebraska region. The key was consistency; though he had a few wins at some small rodeos, he placed at nearly every event in which he competed inside the circuit’s borders. That’s vital for success.

Now he’s forced the hands of Braden and Larsen. One of them must win every round and the average in Duncan in order to catch him, and Lufkin can’t earn any money. In rodeo, dollars equal championship points, so the cowboy with the most money won at the conclusion of the season will be crowned year-end champion.

“I won it in 2013, when I was on my PRCA permit,” Lufkin said. “It’s your home circuit, so winning it is great. I got to go to the (RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo), which was in Guthrie (Okla.) that year. My whole family got to go.”

The year-end and circuit finals average champions earn the right to compete at the RNCFR, which now takes place each April in Kissimmee, Fla.

“I placed at a lot of the bigger rodeos, like Elk City (Okla.) and Dodge City (Kan.), which helped a lot,” he said. “I won a little bit of money at every circuit rodeo I went to, so that was big.”

Now he hopes to limp to the year-end championship, but not without producing a bit of a bang in Duncan to prove his broken leg won’t slow him down much.

“My goal is to go in there and compete,” Lufkin said. “Duncan has been a good spot for the circuit finals. It’s a good facility, and that arena is nice. We had out high school finals there, so it’s almost like competing at home.”

It’s a four-hour drive from Sallisaw to Duncan, but that’s OK. Lufkin hopes for any advantage he can get.

postheadericon Polhamus brings flavor to Bellville

Boyd Polhamus will announce the Austin County Fair's rodeo for the 10th time this October. Polhamus is a four-time PRCA Announcer of the Year.

Boyd Polhamus will announce the Austin County Fair’s rodeo for the 10th time this October. Polhamus is a four-time PRCA Announcer of the Year.

BELLVILLE, Texas – Every good team needs a good coach and the perfect leader on the field.

The Austin County Fair and Rodeo has a very good team. The volunteer committee, which works hard all year to produce Bellville’s rodeo, works closely with award-winning announcer Boyd Polhamus through each of the three rodeo performances, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11-Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Austin County Fairgrounds in Bellville.

“Boyd’s like the quarterback of our rodeo; he keeps it going,” said Dusty Kendrick, a longtime member of the rodeo committee. “The people love an announcer that’s on horseback and gets involved with the crowd.

“What I like about Boyd is that he follows it like a movie script. He’s got the opening of the rodeo down to the second. Everybody knows what they’re supposed to do.”

Polhamus is a four-time Announcer of the Year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association who has announced the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo 21 times in a distinguished career. This year, though, his role in Las Vegas will change; he takes over as the general manager of the NFR. That means he will oversee the production for each of the 10 rounds of ProRodeo’s grand finale.

“I think he’ll be good at it,” Kendrick said. “Unless you’re involved in rodeo, you don’t really understand what he’s going to be doing. If you go out to Vegas, you realize he’s got his hands full putting on a production like that.”

While the schedule in the Nevada desert is hectic for Polhamus, his focus most of the year is on being the voice of rodeos like Bellville.

“What I like about Boyd is that he does his homework and knows what our fans like,” said Ricky Huff, chairman of the rodeo committee. “If something happens in the arena, he might interview a contestant. He keeps it going for us.”

While in Bellville, Polhamus will work with a hard-working committee and a talented staff of personnel to make sure fans see a wonderfully produced rodeo. That includes production director John Gwatney, secretary Sandy Gwatney, video board director Dawn Petty, sound director Josh “Hambone” Hilton and Maury Tate, the owner of the livestock production company, Mo Betta Rodeo.

Also in the mix will be bullfighters Dusty Tuckness and Chuck Swisher and clown Cody Sosebee. Nearly all have received PRCA honors: Tuckness is the reigning Bullfighter of the Year; Hilton won the inaugural Sound Director of the Year in 2017; Sandy Gwatney was the 2016 Secretary of the Year; and John Gwatney, Swisher and Sosebee have worked the NFR.

“When people see those awards, they want to come out and see that production,” Huff said. “I think it’s great that those kinds of people are involved in our rodeo.”

The production is a major part of the show. Hilton’s sound works in conjunction with Polhamus’ announcing, which is timed with the action in the arena. It’s all caught by the video board’s camera operators.

“I think the crowd likes the way our rodeo is produced,” Kendrick said. “We’ve got to put on aa really good rodeo, but we’ve got a star on the stage at the fairgrounds, and he’s going to be going on, so we want our fans to enjoy a good rodeo, then be able to take in the concert.

“The way John, Boyd and Hambone keep the rodeo running gives them time to get out of the stands and over to the stage for the show. I think everybody appreciates that about our rodeo. It makes us feel good that we’re putting on a good, quality production.”

postheadericon Weast racing for title at home arena

Kylie Weast is not only heading to her first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, but she also leads the Prairie Circuit barrel racing standings. She will try to close out her title in her own backyard at the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo next month in Duncan, Okla.

Kylie Weast is not only heading to her first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, but she also leads the Prairie Circuit barrel racing standings. She will try to close out her title in her own backyard at the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo next month in Duncan, Okla.

DUNCAN, Okla. – For the past four months, Kylie Weast has traveled the country chasing her gold buckle dreams.

She’s competed at rodeos in Arkansas and Washington and every state in between, following a family tradition that is three generations deep. As a barrel racer, she follows in the footsteps of her grandparents, Dale and Florence Youree, in showing great horses in the most profound way she can.

Now she’s competing a little closer to her Comanche, Okla., home during the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18-Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Stephens County Arena in Duncan.

“I had never gone (on the rodeo trail) hard enough to qualify for the circuit finals before,” saidr Weast, who is the fourth member of her family to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. “Obviously the circuit finals are held 20 minutes from my house. I regret not going more to qualify for them, because they are in my backyard.”

She’s going now, celebrating another big milestone in a whirlwind year that has seen her earn nearly $100,000 rounding the cloverleaf barrel-racing pattern in rodeo, $23,262 in the Prairie Circuit. Now she will lead a pack of 12 ladies in the Oklahoma-Kansas-Nebraska region to the finale. In December, Weast will be part of that exclusive field at the NFR.

“I needed that money from all those circuit rodeos to count for the world standings,” said Weast, who had earned $99,917 heading into the final week of the 2018 regular season, which concludes Sept. 30. “It worked out well. I’m excited to be competing in Duncan at the circuit finals. My family will get to come see me.”

Her family knows the game well. Florence Youree qualified for the first NFR in 1959 and numerous subsequent championships. Weast’s mother, Renee Ward, earned an NFR bid in 1985, and older sister, Janae, was a three-time qualifier who won the world championship in 2003.

Now they’ll be in attendance to see Weast run for the circuit championship. She leads the barrel racing standings and is $6,247 ahead of the No. 2 cowgirl, 2016 regional titlist Emily Miller of Weatherford, Okla.

“The things I’m looking forward to is that the circuit finals pays so well, and I get to go home every night,” the Comanche cowgirl said. “I’ll also have my family and friends there, all those people that have been following me from this rural community will have a chance to see what it’s about and at a championship event.

“The really cool thing is that if you win the year-end title or the average at the circuit finals, you get the chance to go to Florida. That’s a big plus. You get a chance to earn all that money that counts for next year. You also get a chance to take your family to Florida and have some fun while you are there.”

The two champions from each circuit advance to the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo, which takes place each spring in Kissimmee, Fla., just a few miles from Walt Disney World. For now, though, her focus is on finishing the circuit season strong in her backyard.

postheadericon Rodeo is worthy of Cowboy Capital

STEPHENVILLE, Texas – The cowboys have spoken: The Cowboy Capital of the World PRCA Rodeo is one of the best in the country.

For the fourth straight year, Stephenville’s rodeo has been nominated for Medium Rodeo of the Year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Only five committees are up for the honor in each of four categories, so that means it is one of the top 20 out of about 700 rodeos annually.

“I think we’re nominated again because of the committee we have together,” said Chad Decker, chairman of the volunteer committee that organizes the rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, and Saturday, Sept. 29, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, at Lone Star Arena.

“We have such a strong competitive spirit about us. We’ve got all sorts of people on the committee, from businessmen to past world champions to people who just love rodeo. We strive to put on a rodeo that we would like to go to and something we would like to continue to put on our books. Our committee is fully committed to working 365 days a year and making it the best Cowboy Capital of the World Rodeo every year.”

As one of the final rodeos of the 2018 regular season and having a large purse, Stephenville’s rodeo is an attractive stop for ProRodeo’s greatest stars as they try to secure their qualifications to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. But it’s also a hot spot because of the rodeo’s relationship with Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, which has six nominations for Stock Contractor of the Year.

“Last year, Ty Murray told me that, bar none, we had the rankest set of horses he’d seen in his life, much less on a Friday performance,” Decker said of Murray, a nine-time PRCA world champion and a ProRodeo Hall of Fame inductee. “That’s why we have Pete Carr back year after year. We know what we do on our end to put on a rodeo is minimal to what he does every day.

“Pete and his crew have the rest covered. The whole crew is such a pleasure to work with.”

This weekend’s rodeo will also feature John Harrison, who will be the clown, barrelman and entertainer for all three performances of the Cowboy Capital of the World Rodeo. He has been named Coors Man in the can twice and is a three-time winner of the PRCA’s Comedy Act of the Year.

“We’re looking forward to having John this year,” Decker said. “I have seen him at the NFR and at the awards ceremony, and he’s winning everything but the grandstands. I’ve seen him work a couple of times, but this is the first time he’s been at our rodeo. When you hear his name and know what’s about to happen, everybody stops what they’re doing and watches his act. It’s that good.”

So is the production and the outstanding bucking stock that will be part of Stephenville’s rodeo. Carr has had more animals selected to perform at the NFR over the last five years than any other stock contractor in the PRCA. Many of those animals will be inside Lone Star Arena this coming weekend.

“If you don’t have Pete Carr Pro Rodeo in your Rolodex to put on your show, you’re missing out,” Decker said.

postheadericon 2018 PRCA nominations are in

The year-end awards in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association have expanded, adding the Timer of the Year honor to this year’s ballot. Also on the ballot for the first time is Photographer of the Year, an award that has been given annually for the past 19 years; it is now decided on a vote of the membership instead of by the PRCA communications department.

Congratulations to all the nominees; being a finalist is a huge accomplishment. 

ANNOUNCER OF THE YEAR
Andy Stewart
Bob Tallman
Mike Mathis
Wayne Brooks
Will Rasmussen

DRESS ACT OF THE YEAR
Bobby Kerr
John Payne
Haley Ganzel and Lindy Nealey
Rider Kiesner
Tomas Garcilazo

CLOWN OF THE YEAR
Cody Sosebee
J.J. Harrison
John Harrison
Justin Rumford
Keith Isley

BULLFIGHTER OF THE YEAR
Clay Heger
Cody Emerson
Cody Webster
Dusty Tuckness
Nathan Jestes

COMEDY ACT OF THE YEAR
Cody Sosebee
Gizmo McCracken
John Harrison
Johnny Dudley
Keith Isley

MUSIC DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
Benje Bendele
Chuck Lopeman
Jill Franzen Loden
Josh “Hambone” Hilton
Mark Evans

PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR
Dan Hubbell
Greg Westfall
James Phifer
Matt Cohen
Robby Freeman

STOCK CONTRACTING FIRM OF THE YEAR
Cervi Championship Rodeo
Frontier Rodeo
Pete Carr Pro Rodeo
Powder River Rodeo
Stace Smith Pro Rodeos

SECRETARY OF THE YEAR
Amanda Corley-Sanders
Brenda Crowder
Eva Chadwick
Haley Bridwell
Sandy Gwatney

TIMER OF THE YEAR
Allison France
Amy Muller
Jayme Pemberton
Kim Sutton
Shawna Ray

SMALL RODEO OF THE YEAR
Claremore, Okla.
Clovis, N.M.
Huntsville, Texas
Monte Vista, Colo.
Yuma, Colo.

MEDIUM RODEO OF THE YEAR
Amarillo, Texas
Belle Fourche, S.D.
Coleman, Texas
Estes Park, Colo.
Stephenville, Texas

LARGE INDOOR RODEO OF THE YEAR
Corpus Christi, Texas
Denver, Colo.
Fort Worth, Texas
Rapid City, S.D.
San Antonio, Texas

LARGE OUTDOOR RODEO OF THE YEAR
Cheyenne, Wyo.
Deadwood, S.D.
Dodge City, Kan.
Ogden, Utah
Pendleton, Ore.

PICKUP MAN OF THE YEAR
Chase Cervi
Jason Bottoms
Jeremy Willis
Josh Edwards
Shandon Stalls
Shawn Calhoun
Will O’Connell

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