Weather delays rodeo start
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
The goal was to just stay out of the mud.
After a torrential downpour delayed the Beef Empire Days PRCA Rodeo for two hours Friday night, the conditions were far from optimal for the cowboys and cowgirls for Day 2 at the Fairgrounds Arena — in front of a crowd of pink for breast cancer awareness night.
Both times and scores for the eight events were down from Thursday's showcase, with no leading scores from Thursday falling Friday. However, the muddy conditions may have helped Bart Miller in the bull riding, as his bull, Droopy, may have been a little slower out of the chute, allowing Miller to score only the third mark in two days of bull riding, a 74, behind the commanding lead of Dillon Tyner's 85 on Thursday.
"That bull was a pretty good handful, and it was hard to track her, but it was pretty muddy out there, so it might have slowed him down a little bit," Miller said.
His mark was one of fours marks through over 30 attempts in the bull riding between the two days, with which Miller was satisfied.
But it might have been Miller's fiancee who was the most pleased with the result.
"I jumped off, landed on my feet and only got my boots dirty," Miller said. "My fiancee should be happy, too. She doesn't have to wash all my muddy clothes now."
Wes Stevenson scored the day's highest mark in the bareback riding event, managing to stay on for a 78, a tie for sixth after two days.
Orin Larsen, Goodwell, Okla., maintained his lead after scoring 85 on Thursday.
However, Stevenson — who was competing only for the second time since undergoing surgery on his shoulder after tearing his labrum in the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas last year — was not satisfied with his ride of Inky.
"Not very happy at all," he said. "That was a great horse, and I wasted him with a 78. That's a horse you can score a lot of points on."
While Stevenson said he was not nervous to get back riding, he believed he was over-thinking things too much.
"The eight inches between the ears got in the way," he said. "You do much better when you just react, and you don't think about it too much."
Stevenson has been working for the past couple of months to get back to his peak form as a NFR participant, working out on his bucking machine at home in Lubbock, Texas, but he's still not there, he said.
"There's still nothing like getting on a bucking horse and doing it," Stevenson said.
While competitors slogged through the mud, grouped up with slower times and marks, one competitor seemed to break through into the leaderboard for saddle bronc riding.
With seven riders scoring between 68 and 77, eight-time NFR qualifier Bradley Harter gave a spectacular performance on a re-ride to score an 83, by far Friday's best score, and tying him for third overall.
Harter was supposed to ride Swedish Meatball, but the horse got upside down in the chute when Harter tried to saddle him, forcing Harter to ride another horse.
He drew Wasabi, a horse that bucked Harter in the one and only time the two had competed before — under the bright lights at the NFR in Las Vegas in 2012.
"I had him at the NFR once, and he bucked me off," Harter said. "So, it was revenge kind of."
This time, Harter anticipated Wasabi's first move, made the adjustment and stayed in the saddle for the eight seconds.
"I couldn't have picked a better horse at a better rodeo," Harter said.
It was great timing, too, he said.
"It's funny. Sometimes when you get on a horse, you hope you never get on him again," the Weatherford, Texas, native noted. "But when they get you down, especially in Vegas, you always want payback on him."
Wade Sundell, Coleman, Okla., was still in the lead after his 87 on Thursday.
The only event that did see Thursday's leader's mark get broken was in breakaway roping, as Rachelle Holt set the new standard at 2.7 seconds, beating Jamie Flowers' Thursday mark of 3.8. Flowers is from Garden City.
In tie-down roping, only Caleb Bullock was able to score a time, finishing in 24.4 seconds, far behind Thursday leader Trevor Brazile's 9.8.
In team roping, Charly Crawford and Shay Carroll, and Derrick Begay and Will Woodfin finished in identical 5.3 seconds, tying for fourth overall. Luke Brown and Kollin VonAhn and Blaine Vick and Twister Cain lead with marks of 5.1.
Cole Edge took down his calf in 4.6 seconds in the steer wrestling on Friday to tie for second place overall, just .3 of a second behind Benjamin Robinson's Thursday mark.
Finally, in the barrel race, Blazi Weippert had Friday's best mark with 18.23 seconds, over a second slower than first place Paxton Segelke's 17.06 seconds on Thursday.
Today's events begin at 7 p.m., as military personnel will be honored on Military Appreciation Night, with military IDs garnering free admission.