Rough Stock Events – Bareback, Saddle Bronc and Bull Riding:
Instead of contestants to watch today, it could be contestant to watch. It would be easy to focus all the attention on Stetson Wright who will be competing in the saddle bronc riding and bull riding today. Yes, he is one of those Wrights, the famous rodeoing family from Utah.
This one is on track to do things no member of his family has even attempted. The Wright family has five saddle bronc riding world titles to their credit. Two belong to Stetson’s father Cody. His older brother Ryder, who is also riding today earned one in 2018. Stetson is the first member of the family to take on the bulls in the rodeo arena and he is doing very well. He is number one in the all-around world standings, with $120,853 won this year. He will be competing next December at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in the bull riding – he is third in the world standings. And, he has a chance to make it in the saddle bronc riding at 22nd. He just needs to move up seven spots and stay there.
Stetson will turn 20 on July 30th. This is his Rookie year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. He leads the rookie-of-the-year race in both of his events as well as the overall category. If he holds onto that first place there and in the all-around race, it will be the first time in rodeo’s history that a rookie has won the all-around cowboy title. It will also be the first time that a rough stock contestant has earned the title since Ty Murray won his last in 1998.
There are two other Wright family members here today, Rusty, the oldest of Cody’s boys and Spencer, their uncle. Wade Sundell has come close to winning a world title on multiple occasions. He finally got the job done last December. Likewise, he has come close to winning a title here and hopes this will be the year. The gregarious cowboy loves horses so much that he and his family have started raising performance horses preparing for a future where he gets on horses that don’t buck.
In the bareback riding, Wyoming’s own Chance Ames will be a crowd favorite. Ames is from Big Piney and has been furthering his education at Sheridan College. In June, he qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo for the third time and it was a charm. He earned the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s title and rides with the buckle for being college rodeo’s best.
Timed Events – Steer Wrestling, Team, Tie-Down and Breakaway Roping and Barrel Racing:
Cheyenne Frontier Days made history this year when they added breakaway roping to their event roster. They are the first major regular season rodeo to do that. Now cowgirls are hoping to become the first breakaway champion in the history books here. It means a lot for the women to have an opportunity to compete in a rodeo as legendary and prestigious as this one.
There are two breakaway ropers who are very familiar with what it means to win a title here. Coralee Spratt from Shoshone has watched many of her family members compete here. Her grandmother, Pat Spratt, has run barrels and her grandfather, Bill Spratt, won the steer roping here in 1976. Coralee also entered the barrel race here but didn’t advance from the qualifier. She now will put all of her focus into the next two days of roping.
J.J. Hampton is legendary in the roping world. She has won 17 Professional Women’s Rodeo Association world titles and has helped gain a lot of notoriety for women in rodeo. Hampton has a go for broke style that some say is a family characteristic. Her nephew Marty Yates never ropes for second place, much like his aunt. Marty won first place here in the tie-down roping in 2015 so the family knows what it means to win at the “Daddy of ‘em All.”
Today’s team roping will be fun for all of the Wyomingites to watch. Their own world champion heeler, Jhett Johnson will be among the field roping with Travis Bard from Prescott, Arizona. Jhett is staying pretty close to his home in Casper these days. He is the rodeo coach at Casper College and is watching his boys compete. At the recent Wyoming High School Rodeo Finals, he spent time in the arena as a pick-up man.
While none of the scores or times from qualifying carry forward, the momentum and success hopefully will. Bard and Johnson have won $3,278 and hope their success in Frontier Park continues. A barrel racer that is hoping for the same thing is Jessi Fish from Franklin, Tennessee. She tied for second at the qualifier and earned over $7,000.
The new format of the rodeo gives every contestant an opportunity to win money today. Each event will see checks paid and each check will give the contestant an opportunity to advance to the next bracket in the tournament style format. So expect some fast-paced and exciting action!