postheadericon Champ seeks repeat in ’17

Rutkowski eager to compete at Bullfighters Only event in storied Ada arena

ADA, Okla. – The freestyle bullfighting history inside the Pontotoc County Agriplex is long, and some of the greatest men in the sport have earned prestigious titles in that building.

Weston Rutkowski hopes to add his name to the list when Bullfighters Only conducts a stand-alone bullfight at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 22. Tickets are on sale now at www.bullfightersonly.com.

The Haskell, Texas, man helped set a new standard in 2016, winning the BFO season championship and becoming the first freestyle bullfighting tour world champion in 17 years. After more than 30 events, Rutkowski staked claim to the most prestigious title in the sport since the 2000 season.

Weston Rutkowski holds the Las Vegas Championship belt he earned this past December. It was a key victory en route to his Bullfighters Only world championship. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Weston Rutkowski holds the Las Vegas Championship belt he earned this past December. It was a key victory en route to his Bullfighters Only world championship. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

“Weston is always a contender, and you know he’s going to show up in good shape with the right mindset to win,” said Dusty Tuckness, a founding member of Bullfighters Only and one of the top freestyle bullfighters in the game. “He’s self-disciplined, which is the biggest thing I like about him.”

That work ethic is one reason why Rutkowski is the reigning BFO champion and will be part of the mix during the competition inside the Agriplex.

“That’s where everybody went to make a name for themselves, like Andy Burelle, Wacey Munsell, Dusty Tuckness, Cody Webster … all those great guys,” Rutkowski said. “I am super excited about going to Ada, because I never got to go there before. When I first cracked out, Ardmore (Okla.) was where you went to measure your talent.

“Before Ardmore was Ada. That was the one prestigious event that everybody went to. With the BFO bringing the bullfights back home to Ada, it’s one I’m glad to cross off my list.”

The event will feature 15 men at the top of the game, consisting of five three-man bouts, with the top scores from each session will advance to the championship round. The Ada champion will be crowned from those five bullfighters.

As history has shown, the Agriplex will be a showcase for freestyle bullfighting’s best: 1999 Wrangler Bullfight Tour world champion Lance Brittan, Toby Inman, Evan Allard, Beau Schueth, Zach Call, Schell Apple and several others will join Rutkowski in the ring.

“I’ve seen a lot of Lance’s videos, and he was one of the key guys that changed freestyle bullfighting back in the day,” Rutkowski said. “The first time I get to meet Lance will be when I go head-to-head with him. There’s not a better way to go against a legend like Lance.”

With 15 of the most athletic bullfighters in the game, the Ada competition should be a perfect fit for fans in southeast Oklahoma.

“What’s great about this is that it’s just freestyle bullfighting,” he said. “It’s a two-hour, action-packed event where you have 15 of the best bullfighters of the world. These televised stand-alone events make bullfighting so much bigger. You can go in there and make good money.”

Rutkowski should know. The 2016 BFO champion won more money than any other bullfighter in the a season ago with $41,325.

Rutkowski would like to repeat, and doing well inside the Pontotoc County Agriplex would go a long way toward that. He also knows it takes a great level of work to perform at the top of his game.

“If you want to stay on top, you have to stay motivated,” he said. “I recently hosted a BFO Development Camp and we had a guy that was 38 years old. A year ago he was over 350 pounds; he watched a BFO event last January, and it changed his life. He was inspired to get in shape to fight bulls again. He lost 110 pounds and got to fight at the D-Camp.

“That is very motivating to me. You never know who’s watching. They see the work you put in beforehand, and then they get to see you go out and compete. Knowing the talent in the young guys that are coming up is part of it, too. I have to keep working harder because of the talent that is underneath me.”

And they’re all pointing to the target on Rutkowski’s back. He’s the king of the mountain, and they want his spot.

“That’s the great thing about the BFO,” he said. “You’re going to go up against the best guys every time.”

postheadericon Rangers women win in Kansas

ALVA, Okla. – The little indoor arena in Garden City, Kan., was the perfect fit for some members of the Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo team.

The Rangers won the women’s team title with 420 points, 120 better than the runner-up, Southeastern Oklahoma State University. For the men, Mason Bowen of Bullard, Texas, raced to the tie-down roping championship, winning the first round, placing second in the short round and tying two calves in a cumulative time of 19.1 seconds to claim the average.

Colten Madison

Colten Madison

He also leads the Central Plains Region standings in his event. The same can be said for Colten Madison of Whiting, Iowa, who capitalized on his third-place finish in southwest Kansas to take the top spot in steer wrestling. He had a simple plan of attack as he approached the seventh event of the 10-rodeo season.

“Just make two runs and just place, if anything, and move in the standings,” said Madison, a freshman majoring in agriculture business.

He did that by gathering 90 points in Garden City to push his season total to 480 points. He is 70 points ahead of teammate Cody Devers of Perryton, Texas. That’s important, because only the top three individuals in each discipline advance to the College National Finals Rodeo.

“I’ve been lifting and practicing every day,” said Madison, who began using weights a year ago after suffering an injured rotator cuff in his right shoulder while competing in his home state of Iowa. “I made a friend in town who was a body builder, and he told me he could get me stronger than I was.”

It’s working. He is taking his approach to the final three rodeos of the season with hopes it continues to pay off. They key is to continue grappling the steers to the ground and make as many final rounds as possible. Of course, it helps to have support from his rodeo coach, Stockton Graves, and teammate J.D. Struxness – Graves is a seven-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier, and Struxness is the reigning college champ who qualified for the NFR for the first time last year.

“Stockton and J.D. help a lot,” Madison said. “Back home I don’t have anybody to practice with. Having guys like Stockton and J.D. helping out has made a huge difference.”

Katy Miller

Katy Miller

The women’s title marked just the second time this season the Rangers have claimed a championship. The women won their home rodeo in October, and this past weekend. Goat tier Katy Miller of Faith, S.D., and barrel racer Ashlyn Moeder of Oakley, Kan., utilized strong second-place finishes to guide Northwestern to the crown.

Miller finished second in the first round, short round and average to earn 145 points. She also made the final round in breakaway roping but didn’t garner any points in that discipline.

“I knew going in it was a little indoor barn,” said Miller, who is third in the goat-tying standings. “For goat tying, they’re short runs, so you really have to think about that. If you get off (the horse) late, it could really mess up your run.

“I try to rope on one or two horses every day. I tie goats with a couple of other girls; I try to tie goats every day.”

That hard work is paying off. Miller was one of four Northwestern goat tiers who earned points in Garden City. She was joined by Tearnee Nelson, also of Faith, who placed in both rounds and finished fourth in the average; Jennifer Massing of Ponoka, Alberta, who was fourth in the opening round; and Melissa Courture of Springdale, Ark., who placed third in the first round.

Moeder won the first round and finished in a tie for third in the short round in barrel racing. Her two-run cumulative time of 26.30 seconds propelled her to second overall. She sits second in the region standings. Brandi Hollenbeck of Hutchinson, Kan., roped in heading points while competing with men’s team member Grayson Allred of Kanarraville, Utah. They finished fourth in the short round and fifth in the team roping average.

Another Northwestern tandem – Maverick Harper of Stephenville, Texas, and Tanner Nall of Colcord, Okla. – finished fifth in the long round to gather points.

While Bowen won the tie-down roping title, Cole Patterson of Patterson of Pratt, Kan., finished third. His 10.7-second first-round run was good enough for second, then he finished with a two-run cumulative time of 22.5 seconds. Devers earned a spot in the steer wrestling short round, then placed sixth overall.

The women’s team sits second in the standings and will need a strong finish over the final month of the season if it hopes to return to the college finals in June. The Rangers next stop is this coming weekend in Weatherford, Okla.

postheadericon Brittan back in the fight

Lance Brittan, the 1999 Wrangler Bullfights world champion, is returning to the action to compete in the Bullfighters Only. (PHOTO COURTESY OF LANCE BRITTAN)

Lance Brittan, the 1999 Wrangler Bullfights world champion, is returning to the action to compete in the Bullfighters Only. (PHOTO COURTESY OF LANCE BRITTAN)

1999 world champion joins the ranks of Bullfighters Only

DENVER – Lance Brittan is known as one of the greatest freestyle bullfighters to ever play the game.

Now the 42-year-old legend hopes to regain his championship form as he returns to the sport he loves. It’s been about a decade since Brittan last took on a fighting bull in competition, but he’s ready to step into the Bullfighters Only arena April 22 in in Ada, Okla.

“What’s so attractive to me is the whole man-vs.-beast mentality that comes with it,” said Brittan, who retired from professional bullfighting three years ago and has focused on running his business, Brittan Construction, in Windsor, Colo. “If something goes wrong, there’s no one to blame but myself. I like showing off, I guess.”

He’s damn good at it, too. Brittan will be the only man on the Bullfighters Only tour that was part of the Wrangler Bullfight Tour, which was associated with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association through 2000. He earned the world championship in 1999 when he was just 25 years old.

“I was fortunate to win one of the last world titles they gave in the Wrangler Bullfights,” he said. “Competing against Mike Matt, Greg Rumohr, Loyd Ketcham, Rob Smets and Jerry Norton was amazing. To compete against 14 gold buckles and go in there and win is really special to me.

Because of his expertise in the field, Brittan was one of the instructors at the Bullfighters Only Development Camp from March 11-12 in San Bernadino, Calif. That experience opened a new door for the veteran bullfighter to walk through.

“After instructing that D-Camp in San Bernadino, I got the bug again,” he said. “I’ve watched a lot of BFO videos, and I think they’re great events. I’d like to see what I could get done there.”

His first opportunity will come during the Bullfighters Only stand-alone bullfight at the Pontotoc County Agriplex in Ada. The last time he stepped in front of a bull was while he served as a protection bullfighter during the rodeo in Elk City, Okla., in September 2014.

“What I’m looking forward to is showing the old style of what it was like to fight bulls and make rounds,” Brittan said.

The basics of freestyle bullfighting haven’t changed over the decades. The foundation is staying as close to the animal as possible while also trying to remain out of harm’s way. It’s not an easy task, especially given the bulls, which are bred to be part of the fight. The more aggressive the bull is, the better the opportunity for the bullfighter to gain points.

With scores based on a 100-point scale, men can earn up to 50 points per fight based on their ability to exhibit control and style while maneuvering around or over an animal; a bull can earn up to 50 points based on its quickness, aggression and willingness to stay with the bullfighter.

“I’ve thought that Lance retired at the top of his game, that he went out when he was one of the best guys going down the road,” said Chuck Swisher, one of the top-rated bullfighters in the BFO. “It’ll be great to go up against somebody like Lance.

“Lance is one of my heroes, a true legend. His style is a lot different than a lot of us younger bullfighters, but I have no doubt he’ll still be as solid as ever.”

Bullfighters Only regenerated the buzz about freestyle bullfighting a couple of years ago and is producing events all across the country. While much has changed in the years since he competed in the Wrangler Bullfights, Brittan sees a bright future for the sport thanks to the BFO.

“I think the BFO is great,” he said. “It primarily focuses on the bullfighter and his talents. The entertainment value is priceless. People want to see wrecks, and I guarantee you there will be some wrecks.”

It’s all part of the action-packed shows that are produced by Bullfighters Only, and Brittan is ready to be back in the mix.

postheadericon Rumford is an all-around entertainer

Justin Rumford has competed in Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena many times over his rodeo career, but now he returns to the storied complex as the entertainer and funnyman for the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo.

Justin Rumford has competed in Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena many times over his rodeo career, but now he returns to the storied complex as the entertainer and funnyman for the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo.

GUYMON, Okla. – The last time Justin Rumford was in town for Pioneer Days Rodeo, he was wrestling steers and making people around him laugh at his antics and naturally comedic ways.

He returns to do the same thing but on a much grander scale. As the reigning five-time Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Clown of the Year, Rumford will be one of the featured pieces of the rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 5; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 6; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena.

“I competed in the ProRodeo at Guymon seven times in steer wrestling and a few other times when I was in college,” said Rumford, a third-generation cowboy originally now living in Ponca City, Okla. “I always liked Guymon, because it seems to be the main takeoff for rodeo for the spring and summer run.”

He started competing as a youngster growing up in Abbyville, Kan. His grandfather, Floyd, founded Rumford Rodeo Co. His dad, Bronc, was an all-around cowboy who took over the stock contracting firm, and Justin joined in the family business.

In his lifetime, he’s done just about everything possible in the sport, but he’s found his calling dressed in baggy clothes and wearing greasepaint. It’s the perfect combination of a witty personality raided on rodeo.

“This clowning deal is the best thing I’ve ever had,” Rumford said. “It’s something in rodeo that I can have a lot of longevity in. There’s not a ton of risk, and it’s something I enjoy so much.”

It shows in and out of the arena, a place he knows like the back of his hand. He’s roped and wrestled, ridden bucking horses and fought bulls. He’s been a flankman and a truck driver, and he’s loved every minute of it.

“I’ve been involved in rodeo my whole life,” he said. “I’ve never done anything else, and I’ve never wanted to do anything else. I’ve always wanted to be successful. A (few) years ago when I started this venture, I knew if I really worked hard and tried really hard that I could get to the top in a hurry.”

He did. In just his second year as a full-time rodeo clown, he won the PRCA’s top award. He’s followed that the four years since, and he continues to be one of the most sought-after rodeo clowns in the game. But there are many reasons behind it.

“I have seven acts,” Rumford said. “At a lot of rodeos I work, there are lots of performances, so I like to change it up. I’m not a specialty act; I’m a clown act.

“I’m constantly trying to think of new stuff.”

Whether it’s “Fat Elvis” on a mini bike or the Rumford rendition of Spiderman, the acts are a big part of the entertainment value. But he’s the perfect all-around entertainer, a man who understands the timing that comes with rodeo.

It’s all part of making the production come across as seamless as possible. If there is any downtime in the competition, Rumford is on hand to engage the crowd. It’s a vital piece of the keeping the family-friendly entertainment part of each performance.

“I think my specialty is walking and talking and being in the arena,” he said. “I feel like I can connect with the crowd pretty good. Even when my microphone isn’t on, I’m still talking to fans. You can do a lot without saying a word.”

That’s an integral part of being a clown; sharing a particular move or a flashing glance in the right direction. As a clown with a bit of a bigger build, it is primary target of comedy is himself.

“People want to laugh at each other more than they want to laugh at something,” Rumford said. “When I’m in the arena, I’m saying the same stuff I’d say if I wasn’t clowning. It’s just me being me.”

He looks forward to returning to the Oklahoma Panhandle to entertain, this time in front of some of the most knowledgeable rodeo fans in the country. It will be a different type of experience, but it will still be all Rumford comedy.

“I totally adjust everything,” he said. “You don’t want to push somebody on what they want to hear. When you’re in die-hard rodeo country, you have to feel it out and see what happens.

“In Guymon, they’re rodeo-savvy, but they like to party. They are my kind of people.”

postheadericon Bullfighting returns to Ada

Toby Inman competes this past December during the Bullfighters Only Roughy Cup in Las Vegas. Inman has been one of the best freestyle bullfighters for years and he's excited to be part of the sport's return to Ada, Okla., on April 22. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Toby Inman competes this past December during the Bullfighters Only Roughy Cup in Las Vegas. Inman has been one of the best freestyle bullfighters for years and he’s excited to be part of the sport’s return to Ada, Okla., on April 22. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Bullfighters Only brings the sport back to its roots with event in a storied arena

ADA, Okla. – Eighteen years ago, Andy Burelle was a rising star in freestyle bullfighting.

He earned dozens of victories over his valiant career of battling fighting bulls. He competed in his first bullfight at the Pontotoc County Agriplex in 1999, also the first time the sport was showcased inside the Ada building.

“I had just went to Rex Dunn’s school that spring, and that bullfight was in the fall of 1999,” said Burelle, who will return to announce at the Agriplex on Saturday, April 22, for the first Bullfighters Only event in the storied complex. “It was the first bullfight I ever entered, and I ended up winning it.

“Fourteen years later, that was the last bullfight I entered. I won it and dropped the mic. That was the last time I ever freestyled a bull, and that was the last time the bullfights were in Ada.”

Burelle will pick up that microphone for the BFO event, serving as one of the announcers who will call the action. He provides color commentary while bringing world championship experience to the show. Most importantly, he brings a passion to his craft.

Now that he’s retired, Burelle has been witness to the sport’s resurgence because of Bullfighters Only.

“We used to have the world championships in Ada,” he said of a single event that eventually moved to Ardmore, Okla. “Now that we’ve got Bullfighters Only, we’ve got a year-long battle with standings. It’s not just one event that can crown a world champion; we’ve got world standings, and when we do these title fights and matches, you’ve got to be ranked.

“To be ranked at the BFO means a lot. It means you’re elite.”

Elite is just what bullfighting fans in Ada expect, and it’s why having Bullfighters Only bringing the show back to town is such a big deal.

“When we were in Vegas, we had seven performances where the guys would just go out and try to one-up one another,” Burelle said. “It was the rankest bullfight I’ve ever seen. Bullfighters Only has elevated the sport to a level that I never expected or have ever seen.”

“When I fought bulls, I tried to innovate the sport,” he said. “I brought the backflip, a lot like Travis Pastrana did with motorsports. Now they make my backflips look like nothing. What these guys are doing now makes what I was doing look more like taking a skateboard and jumping a ramp over a soda can.”

Bullfighters Only is also about innovation, and that’s been the driving force behind it’s incredible growth. Two years ago, the BFO was showcasing the sport via sessions that were posted on social media. Now it’s in the midst of its second full season of battling toward a world championship.

“Ada was one of the first big bullfights that I was ever in,” said Toby Inman, a Davis Junction, Ill., bullfighter who will be part of the one-day championship bullfight. “I was thrown to the wolves in Ada.”

Now he’ll be one of the wolves battling against some of the best Spanish fighting bulls around. Much like it was when Dunn, the legendary bullfighter, was providing the bulls in Ada, there will be some excellent bovine athleticism on display.

“Rex’s bulls were man-eaters,” Inman said. “As long as they’ve got four legs and are hot, I’m excited. You want those man-eaters, those that are coming out to rip you up. The same as what we face now with the BFO.”

He will get them, and so will the other top bullfighters that will be part of the bout. It’s a fascinating event. A big part of Bullfighters Only’s success lies within the heart-stopping action that comes with the extreme danger in freestyle bullfighting. Men will try to stay within inches of the bulls, which are bred to be part of this type of fight. The most successful will keep the animal engaged closely while showcasing true athleticism to stay out of harm’s way.

With scores based on a 100-point scale, men can earn up to 50 points per fight based on their ability to exhibit control and style while maneuvering around or over an animal; a bull can earn up to 50 points based on its quickness, aggression and willingness to stay with the bullfighter.

“That arena was always jam-packed, and they couldn’t fit any more people into it,” Inman said. “I suspect it’ll be the same with this, because the BFO definitely brings a great show.”

Tickets go on sale Monday, March 27, www.bullfightersonly.com.

postheadericon Carr raising funds for Cowboys Who Care

NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The image of a cowboy hat can stand for many things.

Representatives for Cowboys Who Care, including Pete Carr on the left, deliver a cowboy hat to a young patient. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Representatives for Cowboys Who Care, including Pete Carr on the left, deliver a cowboy hat to a young patient. (COURTESY PHOTO)

For comedian Cowboy Bill Martin, the integrity of cowboys is shown in the work they do and the care they provide. It’s that base that became the driving force for the Cowboys Who Care Foundation, a non-profit organization he and his wife, Michele, founded a few years ago.

“The hat means honor, bravery and kindness,” Martin said. “Our sole mission is financial support, smiles and free cowboy hats for boys and girls who have cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.”

As a foundation board member, Pete Carr is heavily involved in the charity, one he believes in. He’s sharing that passion with rodeo fans across the country with fundraising raffles at every event his firm produces, like the Nacogdoches Pro Rodeo & Steer Show, set for 7:45 p.m. Thursday, March 23-Saturday, March 25, at the Nacogdoches County Exposition and Civic Center.

Patrons wishing to donate can purchase the raffle tickets for a 24-quart, soft-shell canvas cooler and official Pete Carr Pro Rodeo merchandise: one ticket is $2, two for $5, four for $10 and eight for $20. All proceeds go to the Cowboys Who Care Foundation (www.CowboysWhoCare.org).

“It’s really an awesome foundation with what they’re doing for these kids,” Carr said. “We go into these hospitals and visit with these kids and their families, and we give them their hats. Their faces really light up.”

The Martins developed the foundation after Bill Martin came in touch with Ashley Miller, who was battling a rare form of cancer.

“Ashley’s story had such an impact on me,” he said. “And when she bravely lost her battle in June 2011, I knew I wanted to help other kids like her.”

An internet search revealed pictures of children with big smiles and bald heads, so he decided to do something about it.

“In the mirror, I could see my cowboy hat, and it hit me,” Martin said. “These kids need cowboy hats. It is our belief that there is nothing more precious than a child’s smile. We have found that cowboy hats help create those beautiful smiles.”

Carr has seen those smiles. The foundation coordinates the visits with child-life specialists at children’s hospitals across the country, and cowboys volunteer their time to be part of the giving.

“We are really blessed to be working with Nacogdoches Pro Rodeo & Steer Show to have these raffles so we can continue giving to these kids,” Carr said.

postheadericon Nacogdoches is ready for rodeo

NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Andy Stewart knows a thing or two about the Nacogdoches Pro Rodeo & Steer Show.

Stewart has announced the show for the last decade and a half, and he’s seen a lot of positive things happen in that time. He’ll be back for this year’s event, set for 7:45 p.m. Thursday, March 23-Saturday, March 25, at the Nacogdoches County Exposition and Civic Center.

“The fans are going to see good cowboys and great stock, and we see a lot of great match-ups every year,” said Stewart, an eight-time nominee for Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Announcer of the Year. “We get a lot of premier talent because of the time of year. This rodeo happens before many of the big names head off to the West Coast, so it’s a good opportunity for them to compete in Nacogdoches.”

A big part of that comes from the staff of Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, the Dallas-based livestock firm that produces the rodeo annually.

“I think having the Pete Carr with us helps draw the bigger-named cowboys, and we are blessed to have him at the Nacogdoches Pro Rodeo & Steer Show,” said Anita Scott, the executive director for the expo and civic center. “He’s got a great reputation, and the guys want to come and want to win this rodeo. If it says Pete Carr on it, they know it’s going to be good and it’s going to be the caliber they want and get them the scores they need in order to win.”

Over the last four years, no other stock contractor in the PRCA has had more animals selected to buck at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo than Carr. That is a testament to the type of animals that will be in Nacogdoches next week.

Rodeo is the perfect match of world-class competition and family-friendly entertainment that makes it a show worth watching.

“The fans can expect the whole entertainment package,” Stewart said, noting that legendary clown Rudy Burns returns to Nacogdoches this year. “They’re going to have a good time and be very comfortable while they’re doing it. It’s just a friendly venue.”

Scott and her staff are assisted in the preparatory work by the Nacogdoches Jaycees.

“We’re blessed to have the best in the business here,” Scott said. “Pete is just a great guy. He and his entire crew are very involved and dedicated to our success.”

There are plenty of reasons for the success of the Nacogdoches Pro Rodeo & Steer Show. Whether it’s local support or having the best of the best compete every night, the action will be hard to beat in east Texas next week.

postheadericon Rodeo fans know Guymon is a big deal

While many who attend the Pioneer Days Rodeo know the sport, the entertainment value of the event is perfect for those who aren't quite as rodeo-savvy.

While many who attend the Pioneer Days Rodeo know the sport, the entertainment value of the event is perfect for those who aren’t quite as rodeo-savvy.

GUYMON, Okla. – Rodeo fans in the Oklahoma Panhandle understand the game well, and they comprehend what it means to see a great event.

“Most of the people that come to Pioneer Days know rodeo,” said Earl Helm, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual event, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 5; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 6; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena. “We have a lot of cowboys who come every year, and a lot of them will come for more than one performance.

“That’s why we’ve got to make our rodeo stand out. We do everything we can to put on the best show possible.”

The proof is in the arena every May. Over the years, Pioneer Days Rodeo has been recognized as one of the best in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. In fact, it was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame two years ago because it also provides a great value to those that aren’t quite so rodeo-savvy.

Nearly 1,000 contestants make their way to Guymon for the rodeo, which takes place all week. But the performances are where the main action is, and thousands of fans from all over make sure to attend.

“We’ve priced our tickets to make it affordable fun for the entire family,” Helm said, noting that the best deals come with pre-sale tickets: adult tickets are $15, with children ages 11-15 set at $5; children 10 and younger can get in for $5 or with two cans of food that will be donated to Loaves & Fishes.

“We have also designated that pricing schedule for our Saturday matinee, even at the gate. We want to give all these families a break on a great weekend. They can enjoy the parade, then come to the rodeo and see a great event. We have some of the best concessions you’re going to find at a rodeo, so everybody can just make a day of it.”

Tickets at the gate for the other three performances are $20 for adults and $10 for children ages 11-15. There are plenty of bangs for the bucks.

“This is like a mini-National Finals Rodeo in every performance,” Helm said. “We have the top cowboys and cowgirls that are part of our rodeo every year, and they all want to win one of our championship belts we give to the winners.”

It’s true. Many world champions strap their gold buckles to Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo belts.

But that’s just a small piece of the pie that is Oklahoma’s Richest Rodeo. Primary livestock producer Pete Carr Pro Rodeo enlists the assistance of several other big-name stock contractors to ensure a world-class event.

“What’s great is that we can put on a premier championship rodeo in Guymon, Oklahoma,” Helm said. “You don’t have to travel to Las Vegas to see the best. They’ll be right here.”

postheadericon Bowen stays strong in Fort Scott

ALVA, Okla. – The only way for Mason Bowen to stay the course he’s on is to continue winning points.

He made that happen this past weekend with a second-place finish in tie-down roping at the Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College rodeo. The Northwestern Oklahoma State University cowboy roped and tied two calves in a cumulative time of 18.1 seconds, just a 10th of a second behind the winner.

“I just need to keep knocking them down and keep getting points at every rodeo,” said Bowen, the No. 2 tie-down roper in the Central Plains Region standings from Bullard, Texas. “I’ve changed a lot of stuff mentally on winning, and that makes a difference.”

Mason Bowen

Mason Bowen

Through six of 10 regional rodeos this season, he has accrued 385 points but is just 20 points out of the lead. That’s important, because only the top three individuals in each event advance at the end of the regular season advance to the College National Finals Rodeo.

Having a strong mental approach came in handy at Fort Scott. He scored a 9.5-second run, just out of earning points in the first go-round. Then he stopped the clock in 8.6 seconds to win the championship round and move up to second in the average.

“I was a little longer than I thought” in the first round, Bowen said. “The calf didn’t really cooperate like I thought he would; he was a little stronger than the rest, but it worked out.”

His time earned him a spot in the finale, where he was matched with a better calf through the random draw.

“I had a really good one in the short round, and I took advantage of it,” he said.

The Rangers had several in the championship round with a foursome of steer wrestlers accumulating most of the team points. Cody Devers of Perryton, Texas, won the bulldogging title with a two-run cumulative time of 9.3 seconds – he also shared the short-round victory with a 4.6-second run. Colten Madison of Whiting, Iowa, finished third in 9.5 seconds, while Maverick Harper of Stephenville, Texas, was sixth with 11.3.

Reigning college champion steer wrestler J.D. Struxness of Appleton, Minn., won the opening round but finished out of the top six. Madison leads the bulldogging standings, and Devers is second.

A couple of team ropers – header Cole Patterson of Pratt, Kan., and heeler Allie O’Brien of Pineville, Mo. – earned points. Patterson, roping with Western Oklahoma State’s Clayton Smith, placed third overall by stopping the clock in a two-run cumulative time of 20.5 seconds. O’Brien, roping with Southwestern Oklahoma State’s KeAnn Kelberr, placed fourth in the short round.

Barrel racer Ashlyn Moeder of Oakley, Kan., finished second in her event. She was 12.17 to win the first round and 12.36 to finish third in the championship round to score 150 points in Fort Scott. Moeder is seventh in the region standings.

Katy Miller of Faith, S.D. led the Rangers in goat-tying with a second-place finish. She tied two goats in a combined 12.6 seconds. She was followed closely by Tearnee Nelson (third) of Faith and Jenny Massing (fourth) of Ponoka, Alberta. Miller sits third in the Central Plains, while Nelson is fifth.

Four rodeos remain in the region season, so points are important for all contestants. They know they need to perform well, but they also need to have good horses to get them there. That’s definitely the case for Bowen, who leans on his horse, Swamp.

“I’ve had him for two years,” Bowen said. “We didn’t really get along that good at first, but he’s come along the last couple of months and got to winning a little bit.”

Now they need it to continue.

postheadericon Tierney times three

Jess Tierney, center, poses with his brother, Paul David, left, and his father, Paul. On Sunday, Jess became the third member of the family to win the CINCH Timed Event Championship. (JAMES PHIFER PHOTO)

Jess Tierney, center, poses with his brother, Paul David, left, and his father, Paul. On Sunday, Jess became the third member of the family to win the CINCH Timed Event Championship. (JAMES PHIFER PHOTO)

Jess Tierney becomes third member of his family to win CINCH Timed Event title

GUTHRIE, Okla. – Jess Tierney closed out a wild and eventful final round of the 2017 CINCH Timed Event Championship to become the 13th winner of this storied competition.

More importantly, though, is that he became the third member of his family to claim this prestigious and elusive title, joining his four-time champion father, Paul, and his two-time titlist brother, Paul David.

Jess Tierney prepares to heel his steer on Sunday's final round. He earned $104,000 in three days. (JAMES PHIFER PHOTO)

Jess Tierney prepares to heel his steer on Sunday’s final round. He earned $104,000 in three days. (JAMES PHIFER PHOTO)

“I couldn’t be happier for my brother,” Paul David said. “Now we all have a Timed Event buckle to wear.”

In all, the family owns seven of those gold buckles, a cherished piece of hardware that is the epitome of multi-talented cowboys. Paul won his first title in 1987, when Jess was just 5 years old. He added crowns in 1991, ’97 and ’00. It’s a family tradition they’d like maintain. With the winner earning $100,000, they have good reason

“This event is just the greatest event,” Jess said. “It could’ve paid 2 bucks, and I would’ve showed up. I just wanted to win this event. With them adding that kind of money, it’s just life-changing for us.”

When his dad won his first crown, the winner’s take was $40,000. When Paul David won his first title in 2014, it paid $50,000. While the financial incentive is greater, the call for the competitors is in the title: Timed Event Champion. Paul David won his second title a year ago and carried the lead into Sunday’s final go-round. In fact, he held the lead through the 23rd run of the championship, then saw it slip.

When he took his jump in bulldogging, the steer slipped away. He ran the length of the nearly 400-foot arena to remount. By the time he caught the steer and downed it, 41.7 seconds had ticked off the clock. He fell to fourth in the 24-head aggregate, and Coloradoan Josh Peek moved into the lead.

In the final event of this year’s Timed Event, Jess Tierney proved why steer roping his strongest event. He roped and tied his animal in 16.4 seconds. When Peek struggled and stop the clock in 33.9 seconds, Tierney earned the coveted crown.

“We went from one leading it to dropping to fifth,” Paul said. “Then the one that was third ended up winning it, but that’s the Timed Event.”

Yes, it is. The day began with five cowboys in contention for the title. It came down the final few runs of the five-round, three-day championship to decide this year’s winner of the “Ironman of ProRodeo.”

“My best friend is Jace Crabb,” Jess said of his partner in heading and heeling. “Fourteen years ago I said, ‘Someday I’m going to get to go to that Timed Event, and you and I are going to win it together.’ We’ve come here this long, and we finally won it.”

It’s just another great story in a great family CINCH Timed Event Championship legacy.

 

RESULTS
First round:
1. Trevor Brazile, 56.3 seconds, $3,000; 2. Clay Smith, 61.2, $2,000; 3. Shay Carroll, 63.7, $1,000.

Second round: 1. Trevor Brazile, 54.7 seconds, $3,000; 2. Paul David Tierney, 56.5, $2,000; 3. Josh Peek, 56.7, $1,000.

Third round: 1. Paul David Tierney, 53.0 seconds, $3,000; 2. Jess Tierney, 62.1, $2,000; 3. Trevor Brazile, 63.0, $1,000.

Fourth round: 1. Josh Peek, 49.6, $3,000; 2. Shay Carroll, 59.1, $2,000; 3. Paul David Tierney, 61.1, $1,000.

Fifth round: 1. Shank Edwards, 58.7 seconds, $3,000; 2. Jess Tierney, 59.9, $2,000; 3. Marcus Theriot, 60.0, $1,000.

Average: 1. Jess Tierney, 326.8 seconds, $100,000; 2. Clay Smith, 332.8, $25,000; 3. Trevor Brazile, 336.2, $15,000; 4. Josh Peek, 339.8, $7,500; 5. Paul David Tierney, 350.7, $5,000; 6. Jordan Ketscher, 363.7, $5,000; 7. Shay Carroll, 432.2, $4,500; 8. Shank Edwards, 481.4, $3,000.

Total money: 1. Jess Tierney, $104,000; 2. Clay Smith, $27,000; 3. Trevor Brazile, $22,000; 4. Josh Peek, $14,000; 5. Paul David Tierney, $13,500; 6. Shay Carroll, $6,000; 7. Marcus Theriot, $5,500; 8. Jordan Ketscher, $5,000; 9. Shank Edwards, $3,000