SHERIDAN — As it goes, the rodeos in Sheridan are thought to get better and better leading to Saturday night’s finale.
Friday did just fine in living up to its many potential exhilarations, setting the stage for one heck of a climax to the 83rd Sheridan-Wyo-Rodeo tonight.
After Cole Echols of Elm Grove, La., excited bull riding fans with an 89 Thursday night, a Wyoming rodeo-star busted into the arena to send the crowd home happy Friday.
Gillette’s Bobby Welsh matched that 89 Friday night, successfully holding on to bull “Little Ears.” He finished with a wave and smile to the crowd followed by a prayer on one knee in front of his chute after his ride.
“I didn’t know the bull, but I had a buddy get on him last year and he said he was really good,” Welsh said. “He’s supposed to turn back to the right, but he gave me a couple real heavy jumps and turned back to the left.
“That’s actually the way I like it,” he smiled.
Welsh was ever-so humble even as he secured the go-round purse.
“God is good, he knew what I needed and it was just what he ordered up for me,” he said.
“The week wasn’t going so good, I hurt my ribs in Casper, kind of been fighting them, but man this feels good. It kind felt like a miracle just being able to ride 100 percent just three days later.
This week, cowboys in the Sheridan-Wyo-Rodeo are working back and forth through rodeos in Vernal, Utah; Estes Park, Colo.; and Casper while they compete in the northern Wyoming premier event.
Besides the always crowd-rousing bucking portions of the rodeo, there was plenty else to rile up those that populated the Sheridan County Fairgrounds Friday night. It helped that a good chunk of the world’s top pro rodeo cowboys were in town.
Ever-popular cowboy Trevor Brazile, ranked sixth in pro rodeo standings in tie-down this week, took the overall lead and the go-round with a 9.1 Friday in Sheridan, with his 17.1 on two holding up the average.
Naturally, he was pleased with the calf roping, but frustrated with his team roping miss earlier in the evening, carrying the mindset of the all-around cowboy.
“I caught a leg in the first round but messed up the second time,” he said after scoring in this morning’s slack. “It’s just one of those things, you’ve got to get on the same page and get everything worked out. In Sheridan, you always want to do good in a rodeo like this. It’s a great rodeo, great fans, but at the end of the day it’s still rodeo.”
Buffalo tie-down roper Kade Kinghorn roped his calf in 10.7 seconds, good enough for fourth on the night.
The night began with some chute-busting excitement just as it ended. Even closer to home than Welsh was 13-year rodeo veteran John Collins of Sheridan, kicking things off in the bareback riding. Collins scored a 66, but got his hand caught in his rope as he tried to dismount his horse. Pick-up men helped calm the horse as Collins held onto the side of the still-kicking animal and avoided injury.
“Oh yeah I’m fine, I hate to hang up on one for so long,” he said. “He was right there at the fence and luckily kind of kept away from it. Sometimes you’re just in trouble.”
He said it’s been a fairly good year, but slow through the last few weeks and the Fourth of July. Collins was born in Kaycee and rodeod in Montana for a while, so he’d hit the Sheridan-Wyo-Rodeo while he worked through the circuit up there. He recently moved back to Kaycee, but got an opportunity to relocate to Sheridan where he’s been since October — a nomadic rodeo cowboy, doing what he loves.
“Fight injury, you fight all that stuff, but I love it. It’s fun, if you get a good run and get things put together it’s pretty fun,” he said.
Even without Brazile getting into the times Friday night in team roping, there was plenty of other super-fast roping cowboys to keep the crowd happy.
Not often does a rodeo fan see a sub-five second time, but Brandon Beers of Powell Butte, Ore., and Jim Ross Cooper of Monument, N.M., treated last night’s crowd with a 4.9-second team roping run, winning the go-round and moving into first in the average. And that wasn’t all: two other teams had 5.1 times and another had a 5.2.
Thursday go-round bareback winner Wes Stevenson’s 86 held up as Chase Erickson scored an 83 Friday night to put him in third overall. That leaderboard is littered with 81s, and saw two more Friday. Chuck Schmidt of Keldron, S.D., on bronc “Tuca’s Warning,” took the overall mark in the saddle bronc riding, his 83 surpassing an 82 from Thursday.
Steer wrestlers Hunter Cure of Holliday, Texas, supplanted his animal in 3.9 seconds and two others managed 4.7-second times for that event’s purse from the night. An 11-flat from Rocky Patterson of Pratt, Kan., was enough to win Friday’s go in steer roping.
In the Indian Relays the third heat featured the most excitement. What began as a five-team race turned into a one-on-one last-lap dash to the finish between War Man of Crow Agency and Roundstone of the Northern Cheyenne. PG Nomnee rode War Man to the win after collisions and riders not being able to catch up to loose horses eliminated three teams through the first portion of the race.
Teams winning the other three heats included Lakota War Path of the Ogalala Lakota led by jockey Hermes Tall; Charges Strong of Crow Agency rode by jockey Jr. Charges Strong; and Curly Relay of Crow Agency manned by jockey Clyde Jefferson.
Teams with the best combined times through the first three nights of competition will compete for more than $30,000 in total money and the title of World Champion tonight as the kickoff to the final performance of the Sheridan-Wyo-Rodeo, beginning at 7 p.m.
Chase Erickson 83
Jessy Davis 81
Kaycee Field 81
George Gillespie IV 79
Steven Dent 77
Chance Madsen 74
Mac Erickson 73
Bobby Welsh 89 (tied for overall lead)
Brett Stall 88
Clayton Savage 86
J.W. Harris 86
Shane Proctor 81
Taylor Toves 79
Chuck Schmidt 84 (overall lead)
Shane Proctor 76
Bryce Miller 76
Cole Elshere 76
Cody Wright 75
Dawson Jandreau 74
Tyrel Larsen 73
Rocky Patterson 11.0
Mike Lohof 12.2
Ryan Rochlitz 12.2
Ora Taton 15.5
Lee Isenberger 18.2
Trevor Brazile 22.6
Hunter Cure 3.9
Jason Miller 4.7
Casey McMillen 4.7
Jacob Shofner 7.7
Les Shepperson 8.0
Cade Staton 9.2
Luke Branquinho 15.2
Bray Huxtable 15.3
Ben Shofner 17.0
Trevor Brazile 9.4
Chase Williams 9.6
Nate Baldwin 10.3
Kade Kinghorn 10.7
Shane Hanchey 14.0
Cory Solomon 18.5
Brandon Beers/Jim Ross Cooper 4.9
Chad Masters/Randon Adams 5.1
Luke Brown/Kollin VonAhn 5.1
Clay Tryan/Jade Corkill 5.2
Nick Rawlings/Derrick Peterson 11.1
Brooks Dahozy/Brondon Bates 11.2
Sabrina Ketcham 17.24
Nikkie Miller-Gosney 17.31
Dianne Bath 17.80
Kaley Bass 17.85
Kenna Squires 18.01
Melanie Luark 19.23