Rough Stock Events – Bareback, Saddle Bronc and Bull Riding:
Three-time world champion bareback rider Will Lowe is no stranger to Cheyenne Frontier Day’s famous belt buckles. A CFD champion in 2009 and 2012, Lowe took the lead in the first round with an 86.5-point ride on Hi Lo ProRodeo’s Pretty Woman. He will be matched with Brookman Rodeo’s Cop a Feel where he will be going for broke to place in the average. Hot on his trail, Ranchester, Wyoming’s Seth Lee Hardwick is placing in the first round with his 85.5-point ride and has drawn Rocky Mountain Rodeo’s Good Times. Hardwick qualified for the 2015 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR), where he won money in seven rounds. Bareback bronc riding is the most physically demanding event in rodeo. Following the WNFR, he had hip surgery and missed the entire 2016 season. He came back and finished in 23rd last year. Neither Lowe or Hardwick are among the top 20 in the world standings, so the rest of the season depends on their success at Frontier Park.
The 2015 world champion saddle bronc rider, Jacobs Crawley hopes to add a second CFD championship to his resume. He won his first one in 2016. He has already won major rodeos like the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo and the Redding (California) Rodeo. He will have to battle it out on Rocky Mountain Rodeo’s Mother Feather Legs today and hopes to move into the overall standings to return for Championship Sunday. If he wins this year, it will be the first time as a dad. He and his wife, Lauren, had their first child, a son, Corley, last November.
Crawley is first in the PRCA world standings. He has a $25,000 lead over Wade Sundell, who will compete here later this week. With the amount of prize money available at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, no lead is big enough to secure a world championship just from money won during the regular season. However, another win here would certainly give Crawley a bigger advantage through the rest of the season. Crawley was 82 points yesterday, so all he needs is another good ride today to be championship round bound.
Bull riders came for the money yesterday with six qualified rides. Brady Portenier had the highest score when he rode bull #419 of Smith Harper & Morgan’s for 88 points. This gave him the lead in the first round. He finished 16th in the 2017 World Standings and is in the hunt for his first WNFR qualification. He will ride Dakota Rodeo’s White Dynamite today, which should be a great match up. White Dynamite has not been ridden this year in four attempts. However, judges have marked him with an average score of 42.5 out of 50 points. If Portenier covers his second bull he is liable to score high and position himself well in the overall standings. Bart Miller also rode in the first round for 84.5 points and is matched up against Dakota Rodeo’s Dusty’s Revenge who has yet to be rode this year. Miller’s grandfather, Eddie Boren, died while riding a bull in Texas, in 1978. That was eight years before Miller was born, but it has not affected his passion for the sport.
All six of yesterday’s successful riders are hoping to be the first men at the 122nd edition of the Daddy of ‘em All to get scores on two bulls. That would nearly assure them a spot in Sunday’s Championship finals.
Timed Events – Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, Tie-Down Roping and Barrel Racing:
All the eyes at Chute 9 will be watching Sterling Smith in the tie-down roping today. Smith broke a 19-year-old arena record when he roped and tied his calf in 9.4 seconds yesterday. While he had a nearly flawless run and his horse worked beautifully, that time is going to be very hard to match. But with that blazing-fast run, he just needs to be solid today to make plans to be back at Frontier Park next Sunday for the Championships. Smith is currently 12th in the world standings, so a win here would nearly secure him a spot in Las Vegas next December to compete for a world title.
Riley Pruitt was not far behind Smith. The Nebraska resident stopped the clock in 10.9. Pruitt, 26, grew up coming to this rodeo. His dad competed in tie-down roping and steer wrestling and his mom still competes in the barrel racing. Neither of them ever won a championship here.
Wyoming will be cheering during the barrel racing for their own Cassidy Kruse. The Gillette resident has lived in Wyoming all of her life and has represented the state well at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Kruse qualified for the championship event in 2015. Kruse had an 18.24-second run the first round and will really need to speed it up today to have a shot at a check from the Daddy.
The Kaminski name and barrel racing just seem to go together. Kelly Kaminski is a two-time world champion and is producer of all of the Junior NFR barrel races. Her daughter, Kenna Kaminski, is now on track to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Kenna has traveled to rodeos with her mom most of her life and being able to compete at Cheyenne is a dream come true for the second-year member of the WPRA.
None of the steer wrestlers were able to break into the top 6 in the first round yesterday, but Ty Talsma of Avon, South Dakota, and Kyle Whitaker of Chambers, Nebraska, both threw their steers in 8.4 seconds. They are tied for 12th in the first round. While that won’t get them any money, a similar or faster run today, could put them among the overall leaders.
Dru Melvin is very busy here at Cheyenne. The father of four children under four years of age is competing in the steer wrestling, hazing for other competitors and spending time with his family who made the trip from his home at Hebron, Nebraska to spend time with him. He stopped the clock in 8.5 seconds and if his cheering section has anything to do with it, he will have another good run today and get to come back next weekend.
Former CFD champ Chad Masters (2009) and his partner Joseph Harrison are seventh in the first round after an 8.9-second run yesterday. Another smooth, penalty-free run should put them in the hunt for Masters’ second CFD title and Harrison’s first.
Three other teams who compete today turned in times that are among the top 15 in the first round. Lane Ivy and Blaine Vick were 9.7 seconds, 11th fastest thus far in round one. Two other teams – Kaleb Driggers & Junior Nogueira and Charly Crawford & Ty Arnold were 10.0 on their first-round steers. While Driggers and Nogueira are both ranked eighth in the world standings, Ivy, Vick, Crawford and Arnold are outside the top 20 in the standings. A quick time today could help any of them qualify for the NFR in December.
All of today’s contestants are in their second round of competition.