Sundell, Larsen top bronc events


Only two cowboys, of 21, record bull riding marks on Day 1 of PRCA.

Only two cowboys, of 21, record bull riding marks on Day 1 of PRCA.


There's something to be said about getting a good ride when you're a professional rodeo cowboy.

In fact, when it happens, it's almost indescribable.

And that's just about the way Wade Sundell of Coleman, Okla., and Orin Larsen of Goodwell, Okla., felt when trying to explain their top-mark rides in the Saddle Bronc and Bareback Riding events on Thursday, the opening night of the 2014 Beef Empire Days PRCA Rodeo at the Fairgrounds Arena.

Sundell, getting a re-ride after problems with his first horse, Coupe de Ville, took advantage of his "second" chance and scored an 87 atop Rhubarb, one of the top saddle broncs in the Korkow Rodeos stock. That put him two points ahead of Dylan Henson of Bloomfield, N.M., who scored 85 atop Wiggle Worm. Nat Stratton of Goodwell, Okla., was in third with 83 points off a ride on Bandito Gold.

"When you show up, you're just there to win," Sundell, a veteran of numerous National Finals Rodeo competitions, said. "No seconds, no thirds, no lasts — just first. That's what you come for."

Sundell said he knew the horse by name, but couldn't place it.

"When you've never been on a horse, you're never quite sure what to expect," Sundell said. "I've rode bulls forever, rode bareback, too, but I've just settled into the saddle broncs and really like it a lot."

One reason, Sundell said, for his decision seven years ago to abandon bull riding for saddle broncs was quite simple — he's healthier.

"I don't hurt near as much, and when you get a good ride, it's an awesome feeling," Sundell said. "When you get tapped off like that, you get that kind of ride (high points), and there ain't anything else could touch that feeling."

Sundell said one of the keys to getting a good ride was to stay in rhythm with the horse.

"You try and spur them high and keep your hand in the mane and be aggressive to get that kind of ride," Sundell said. "When I nod my head (for the chute to open), there's one thing on my mind, and that's just to ride it out."

For Larsen, a native of Manitoba, Canada, and a recent graduate from Oklahoma State-Panhandle, scored an 85 to take a 3-point lead over Ty Breuer of Mandan, N.D., and Joe Gunderson of Agar, S.D., who rode Sweetheart.

Larsen got his top point effort atop Flashcard Champ, while Breuer rode Bambino Vold.

"I just couldn't tell how good the ride was, but I just tried to stay positive," Larsen said. "You just stick with the basics. At the start I felt like I was screwing up. When you start thinking too much, that's when you are counting your chickens before they hatch. I just wanted to stay aggressive."

Larsen, who said he expects to compete in about 20 rodeos per month this summer, attended the College of Southern Idaho before transferring to Oklahoma State-Panhandle. He earned a bachelor's degree in welding technology.

"I used to wrestle steers and ride bulls, but I lost interest in those," Larsen said. "I think the bareback is just a little better for me."

There were just two successful attempts in the bull riding competition, as Dillon James Tyner of Hoyt, Colo., scored an impressive 85 atop Mayan Sacrifice, while Austin Humphrey of Burns, Wyo., scored a 76 on Yellow Diamond.

Otherwise, in the bull riding, which always attracts some of the biggest fan interest, it was the bulls 19, and riders 2. The famed Bad Habit lived up to his notorious reputation, and recorded his 76th buckoff with Wes Wahlert of Galeton, Colo., trying to become the first rider to successfully stay atop him for the eight-second ride. This time, it was an estimated .1 of a second and Wahlert was on the ground.

In Barrel Racing, Paxton Segelke of Snyder, Colo., blitzed the arena three-barrel layout in 17.06 seconds to take an .11 of a second lead over Shelley Morgan of Canton, Texas. In an event where hundredths of a second are critical, only .49 of a second separated the leader from 11th place.

The ladies breakaway roping competition saw Garden City's Jamie Flowers and Kashley Schweer take the first-night lead with times of 3.8 and 5.0 seconds. Jessica Miller of Madison, Kan., was third at 5.2 seconds, and Jenna Hampton of Guymon, Okla. was fourth in 13.2 seconds.

In the Steer Wrestling event, Benjamin Robinson of Colby is the early leader with a time of 4.3 seconds, and Blake Mindemann of Apache, Okla., is second in 4.6 seconds. There is a two-way tie in the team roping competition, as the pair of Luke Brown of Stephenville, Texas, and Kollin VonAhn of Blanchard, Okla., shared the top spot with Blaine Vick of Dublin, Texas, and Twister Cain of Gonzales, Texas, both teams completing their double roping in 5.1 seconds.

Eleven-time All-Around World Champion Trevor Brazile of Decatur, Texas, posted the best time in the tie-down roping with a mark of 9.8 seconds. That was just .1 of a second ahead of runner-up Cody Quaney of Cheney.

Interspersed among the major rodeo events on Thursday were the specialty acts of Donnie Landis and John Harrison, the two barrel men, and the last specialty act of the night, world-renowned Tomas Garcilazo, who specializes in horsemanship and roping skills.

The rodeo continues today with the second performance getting under way at 7 p.m. with "Are You Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night." The event is to create awareness of breast cancer, and there will be special recognitions. Saturday's final 7 p.m. performance will be Honor Military Night.

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