SHERIDAN — Sheridan College cowboy Zeke Thurston covered three rides at the CNFR this week, but he isn’t satisfied.
The freshman Thurston did what few could at the 65th annual CNFR in saddle bronc competition — stay on their horse for eight seconds and score. He sat in sixth place in the average after rides Sunday, Monday and Wednesday, locking up a spot in the short go this weekend, despite dropping to eighth after Thursday’s performance.
“It’s been pretty big draw, you get what you get out of the pen horses here,” he said. “After the first two rounds there was only about 10 guys that had covered two.”
Thurston and his SC teammates CJ Davidson and Taygen Schuelke made their first ever trip to the CNFR, entering a field of more than 400 competitors at the Casper Events Center — no doubt quite the experience for a college kid surrounded by friends from all over the country.
“It’s quite a bit of down time, you’ve got all day but you get to go to rodeo at night and watch all your buds go. It’s pretty fun,” he said.
Three successful rides at the CNFR is a definite accomplishment, but this cowboy, hailing from Hyannis, Neb., wanted even more.
“It is pretty cool,” he said. “My expectations were to maybe do a little better, but we’ll just get one out in the short go,” he said, still optimistic.
The top 12 in the average enter the short go this weekend.
His teammates Davidson and Schuelke competed in bull riding, failing to score rides so far.
But that’s the nature of rodeo.
“Bulls buck so hard nowadays it’s kind of hit and miss,” Thurston said. “There’s a lot of money to be won, but it’s hard to be consistent. If you are on top of things you’re going to be winning lots of money.”
Thurston behaves as any aspiring cowboy might, traveling as much as he can to as many rodeos he can fit into a weekend.
“I’ve been riding steers since I was probably about 11 or so,” Thurston said. “This year I’ve been going to a lot of pro rodeos. I just try to go to pretty much anything I can in a weekend.”
This summer, Thurston will morph further into nomad cowboy, free from school and out on the road. For example, he’s in Sturgis, S.D., today, back in Kaycee Saturday afternoon and then to Casper again for his CNFR finale.
Sunday night, he’s off to Alberta, Canada looking for that next ride.
“The rest of the summer is about like that, getting to as many as we can, pro rodeos and a few small ones back home, seeing what we can get done,” he said.
NOTE: The CNFR concludes tonight, Saturday and Sunday at the Casper Events Center. Thurston has qualified for the short-go along with Sheridan native Devan Reilly (Gillette College), in bareback.
Look for a story in Saturday’s Press on the Sheridan High School graduate Reilly and his fast ascension into rodeo.