Mud and rain didn’t stop slack and the first performance of the Beef Empire Days PRCA Rodeo in Garden City, Kan., and a Kansas man is in the lead in the steer wrestling.

Tanner Brunner, Ramona, Kansas, turfed his steer in a time of 4.2 seconds during slack.

The 26-year-old cowboy rode a southwest Kansas horse owned by Jarek Van Petten of Ingalls. His horse is injured, so he borrowed Van Petten’s horse. Van Petten also hazed for Brunner. “I knew that horse, I trust Jarek, and he does a great job of hazing.”

Brunner, a graduate of Kansas State University, made his first trip to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the pinnacle of the pro rodeo world, last year. The top fifteen cowboys in each event qualify for the WNFR, and Brunner, who is currently ranked thirteenth in the PRCA standings, is on track to qualify again.

With rain off and on all day and a muddy arena, conditions weren’t perfect, but Brunner persevered. “It’s not always ideal, but that’s rodeo, and that’s what you have to deal with, to the best of your ability,” he said. He was complimentary to the rodeo committee for their work with the arena. “The grounds crew did a good job of staying off the arena, and letting the rain run off. There are a few places you don’t want to catch your steer (and be in the mud), but that’s about the best you can ask for.”

After his run in Garden City today, he’s off to rodeos in Ft. Smith, Ark., then Hugo, Okla., Crossett, Ark., Strong City, Kan., and then on to Green Bay, Wisc.

Royce Lynch’s horse is unsure of its name, but it sure can do the job when it comes to the tie-down roping.

Lynch, Canyon, Texas, leads his event with a time of 9.3 seconds.

“I had the best calf this morning (during slack), and fortunately, I got lucky and it all worked out,” he said. “I don’t know if it was a great run, but it was good enough for today.”

The horse he rode, an eleven-year-old buckskin gelding, was raised and trained by him and his brother, Ollin Lynch. “My brother broke him and I started roping calves on him,” he said. “Nobody’s touched him but me and my brother. We’re pretty proud of him. We love him.” The gelding was named Sarge by Lynch and his brother, but Royce’s youngest calls him Bobby. “When I started roping on him, he was pretty aggravating. I like watching King of the Hill, so I used to say, ‘dang it, Bobby,’ a lot. So my little one thinks his name is Bobby.”

Lynch grew up in Deming, N.M. and won two high school state tie-down roping titles and a regional college title while at Eastern New Mexico State University. After graduating from Eastern New Mexico State in 2005, he pro rodeoed full-time for a while, but it wasn’t a good fit. “I’ve always been a worker,” he said. “I didn’t like to sit around (between rodeos) and lounge. My dad set a real good example as a worker. He was a lineman and I watched him put on his steel-toed boots every day, and I knew that was what I wanted to do.”

Lynch works as a railroad engineer, on call 24 hours a day, but on his vacation days, rodeos. “Today was a vacation day,” he said.

Other leaders from slack and the evening’s performance include bareback rider Shane O’Connell, Rapid City, S.D. (82.5 points); team ropers Coleman Proctor, Pryor, Okla./Jake Clay, Sapulpa, Okla. (6.2 seconds); saddle bronc rider Chet Johnson, Douglas, Wyo. (82 points); breakaway roper Tia Wallace, Dodge City, Kan. (3.94 seconds); barrel racer Tyra Kane, Weatherford, Texas (18.34); and bull rider Denton Fugate, Niangua, Mo. (81 points).

The Beef Empire Days PRCA continues May 24 and 25 at the Finney Co. Fairgrounds in Garden City. Tickets range in price from $16 to $24 and can be purchased at the gate. For more information on the rodeo, visit www.BeefEmpireDaysRodeo.com.

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Leaders after slack and the 1st performance, Thursday

Bareback riding

1. Shane O’Connell, Rapid City, S.D. 82.5 points on Korkow Rodeo’s Broken Angel; 2. Nate McFadden, Elsmere, Neb. 82; 3. Will Martin, Durant, Okla. 79.5; 4. Jamie Howlett, Rapid City, S.D. 75.5.

Steer wrestling

1. Tanner Brunner, Ramona, Kan. 4.2 seconds; 2. Aaron Vosler, Cheyenne, Wyo. 4.4; 3. Ryan Swayze, Freedom, Okla. 4.6; 4. Denell Henderson, Damascus, Ark. 4.8

Team roping

1. Coleman Proctor, Pryor, Okla./Jake Clay, Sapulpa, Okla. 6.2 seconds; 2. Tate Kirchenschlager, Yuma, Colo./Buddy Hawkins II, Columbus, Kan. 7.0; 3. Ryon Boatright, Mulhall ,Okla./CaseyMcCleskey, Hedley, Texas 7.4; 4. Brice Boatright, Weatherford, Okla./Chad Mathes, Lawson, Mo.7.7.

Saddle bronc riding

1. Chet Johnson, Douglas, Wyo. 82 points on Korkow Rodeo’s Boogers Pet; 2. (tie) Cooper Thatcher, Australia, Ty Manke, Rapid City, S.D. and Dawson Jandreau, Kennebec, S.D. 73 points each.

Tie-down roping

1. Royce Lynch, Canyon, Texas 9.3; 2. Quay Howard, Canyon, Texas 9..4; 3. Tyler Milligan, Pawhuska, Okla. 9.8; 4. (tie) Blake Ash, Aurora, Mo. and Hadley DeShazo, Ash Flat, Ar. 9.9 each.

Breakaway Roping

1. Tia Wallace, Dodge City, Kan. 3.94 seconds; 2. Megan Hendricks, Lakin, Kan. 4.17; 3. Camron Peterson, Cimarron, Kan. 4.56; 4. Shelley Meier, Garden City, Kan., 5.87.

Barrel racing

1. Tyra Kane, Weatherford, Texas 18.34 seconds; 2. Emily Hamrick, Anacoco, La. 18.70; 3. Kellie Collier, Hereford, Texas 18.85; 4. Jamie Chaffin, Burwell, Neb. 18.88.

Bull riding

1. Denton Fugate, Niangua, Mo. 81 points on Korkow Rodeo’s The Iceman; 2. Tyler Bingham, Honeyville, Utah 79.5; 3. Clayton Sellars, Fruitland Park, Fla. 76.5; no other qualified rides.