Are you ready to get Wyo’d? Youngsters flung boots across Whitney Commons last night, marking the beginning of a crazy, exciting week of rodeo in Sheridan. Tonight, the stars mount livestock and show off their skills under the setting Wyoming sun at the Sheridan County Fairgrounds to kick off four days of pro rodeo mayhem.
And as if you needed more reason to get excited about the Sheridan WYO Rodeo, this year’s draw hit the Wyoming jackpot for its first night of action.
First of all, this week’s rodeo is full of local talent. Nine cowboys with Sheridan County ties fill the day sheets for the WYO Rodeo. And while that may just be a small portion of a stacked field, it’s the most I’ve seen on the list in my five summers covering rodeo.
Even more exciting for the fans is that seven of those nine cowboys are competing in the evening performances in front of the packed grandstands. The cheers for the local boys (and girls — although there are no local barrel racers this year) are always the loudest.
But as I sat in front of the full draw for the week and highlighted the names and hometowns that stood out to me, I got extra excited as I doubled back on Wednesday’s performance.
The rodeo will begin tonight with bareback riding, a fan favorite and probably my personal favorite. And as the thrill of competition jumps from the back of bucking broncos, four Wyoming riders will highlight the night.
Of the 12 bareback riders slated for the event’s first night, four call Wyoming home. Of those four, two have Sheridan ties.
Ranchester’s Seth Lee Hardwick will join Buffalo’s Tyler Scales and Casper’s Dylan Wahlert for Wednesday bareback riding.
To cap it all off, Sheridan College’s Chance Ames will get a chance to flex his muscle on the big stage in front of a group of people who have supported him immensely over the years.
Ames, maybe the most exciting draw of the evening, has shined a light on Sheridan as one of the top collegiate bareback riders in the country over the last two years. He’s coming off a regional title and back-to-back top-10 College National Finals Rodeo finishes. His tremendous season earned him The Sheridan Press Athlete of the Year honors.
While the hometown fans would love to see Ames stay at SC and bring another regional title to the school next year, those same fans could be the very reason he doesn’t. Ames is still weighing the option of returning to school or taking his talents to the professional ranks — a big ride and a deafening roar from the crowd Wednesday night could help sway his decision.
And as another regional title at Sheridan College is certainly enticing, don’t hold back on your cheers. This General has already done a lot in Sheridan, so one more standing ovation is well deserved.
Ames and his three fellow Equality State barebackers will amp up the crowd tonight, and five more riders will carry us through the week.
Sheridan’s Cole Harbaugh and SC General Cole Reiner will compete in bareback Thursday; Devan Reilly (another fan-favorite) will compete in bareback Friday along with bull rider Drew Flynn; and Sheridan College’s Garrett Uptain will close the week with a bull riding show Saturday.
Cole Cooper hit the slack arena Thursday for some team roping, and EJ Panetta is scheduled for tie down slack Friday morning.
That’s nine Sheridan/Ranchester/Sheridan College cowboys taking center stage at Sheridan’s biggest event this week.
And while rodeo fans aren’t shy when it comes to showing love to the competitors in the arena, expect the Sheridan County Fairgrounds to be extra loud this week as the hometown boys do their best to put Sheridan County atop the standings.