SHERIDAN — The Sheridan WYO Rodeo brings cowboys and cowgirls from all across North America to the Sheridan County Fairgrounds each and every year. The competition also draws quite a bit from the Equality State, and the amplified roar of the crowd when a hometown rider straps in was heard early and often during the opening night of bareback riding Wednesday.
“As long as you’re from Wyoming, you get twice the applause,” Seth Hardwick said. “It’s awesome.”
Hardwick represented one of the eight bareback riders to go Wednesday at the Sheridan County Fairgrounds. Half the field boasted Wyoming roots, many of which had connections to Sheridan and the surrounding area.
Hardwick hails from Ranchester, Tyler Scales calls Buffalo home and Chance Ames is not even a month removed from competing at the College National Finals Rodeo for Sheridan College.
Hardwick has competed on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit for numerous years and loves taking part in the WYO Rodeo, even if it’s for the simple fact that the commute to work is just a hop, skip and a jump.
“It’s just awesome to ride here,” Hardwick said. “It’s close to home, a 10-minute drive away. The crowd is always awesome because you’re basically a hometown local cowboy, so it’s always fun to ride here.”
Hardwick did the best of the three locals, scoring 82.5 points, which placed him third Wednesday. Ames and Scales both recorded 76-point rides, which tied them for fifth. Caleb Bennett of Temonton, Utah, boasted the best ride, scoring 84 points.
Wednesday marked Ames’ first WYO Rodeo. The Big Piney native didn’t do as well as he would have liked in his first go-round but walked away relatively happy.
“It was really cool and definitely a good first experience,” Ames said. “Just getting to be back here with all the world champs and guys that have been in finals and everything, and then going out and competing with them is pretty cool.”
Ames came close to a no-score as he nearly got bucked off before the eight-second timer went off. He righted the ship, however, and repositioned himself to stay upright.
“I just kind of had a little nervousness of wanting to do good,” Ames said. “And just the excitement on the horse with how it felt, it felt really good, and I just got a little distracted in the middle of the ride.”
Scales has ridden at the WYO Rodeo for years. He, much like Hardwick, revels in the partisan crowd’s shower of praise before, during and after his ride.
“It’s really cool; my phone is buzzing all the time with people asking, ‘Are you going to WYO?’” Scales said. “It’s fun when you run your hand in and the announcer tells everyone you’re from Buffalo and you can hear the roar.”
JJ Elshere of Hereford, South Dakota, leads saddle bronc with an 85-point ride. Ty Erickson from Helena, Montana, wrestled a steer to the ground in 4.4 seconds to top the field. Trevor Brazile of Decatur, Texas, leads steer roping with a time of 11.8 seconds. Brazile also leads tie down roping, clocking in at 8.1 seconds. Cody Tew and Nano Garza bested the field with a time of 4.8 seconds in team roping. Jana Bean from Ft. Hancock, Texas, leads barrel racing with a time of 17.26 seconds, and Dylan Hice Vick topped the bull riding field, scoring 83.5 points.
And while all those top scores earned roaring ovations from the fans, the cheers still weren’t as loud as those reserved for the local boys at the WYO Rodeo.