Rough Stock Events – Bareback, Saddle Bronc and Bull Riding
Four of this year’s top bareback riders will be hoping to advance to the semifinals today. The one highest in the world standings is Ty Breuer, who is 6th. The four-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) cowboy is having the best season of his career and is the proud father of a new baby boy born less than two months ago. This is he and his wife Kelly’s second child.
Last year’s reserve champion and perennial all-around hand Steven Dent is matched up with Dakota Rodeo’s Chirrikawa, a horse that is equally strong whether bucking in the bareback or the saddle bronc riding. Dent is traveling with former CFD champion Tanner Aus. The fourth of the group is Jake Brown (13th).
Craig Wisehart has an usual upcoming itinerary. After he competes tomorrow, he will head a few miles south to Colorado’s Weld County Fair for the goat show later that afternoon. When he was younger, not only did he show goats in 4-H and FFA, he started a hoof trimming business that brought the enterprising youth some spending money to rodeo with.
Taygen Schuelke is a former college all-around champion who is trying to make his mark here in the saddle bronc riding. He is joined this year by his younger brother Lane Schuelke who competes today in the rookie saddle bronc riding.
Californian Tim Ditrich spent his whole life around horses, but never considered saddle bronc riding until he was in college. He saw photos of his rodeo coach and mentor, Ben Londo, riding broncs and decided to try the event. Londo loaned him a saddle and equipment and helped him learn the event.
A pair of former world champions – Jesse Wright and Jesse Kruse – are in today’s field along with former CFD champion Bradley Harter.
Two of the winningest bull riders in PRCA history will be making a bid for their first CFD championship starting today. Neither J.W. Harris, who has four world championships, nor Sage Kimzey, who has won five, have won a CFD buckle in their careers. Sage, who’s currently leading the world standings, is here along with his younger brother Trey Kimzey who is ranked 11th.
Tyler Bingham (ranked 6th) and Joe Frost are hoping to join their brothers Tim and Josh, who have already qualified for CFD’s semifinals. Another NFR bull rider in today’s field is Garrett Smith, who is ranked 10th this season.
Timed Events – Steer Wrestling, Team, Tie-Down and Breakaway Roping and Barrel Racing
Kyle Whitaker will highlight today’s steer wrestlers. Whitaker is a nine-time winner of professional rodeo’s ironman award – the Bill Linderman Award which is awarded to the cowboy who earns the most money in at least three rodeo events in a season. To be eligible a cowboy must win at least $1,000 in a timed event and a rough stock event, plus another $1,000 in a third event. Dean Finnerty of Wheatland, Wyoming, will be competing his either his 31st or 32nd consecutive CFD in steer wrestling.
Syerra “CY” Christensen of Kennebec, S.D., is the new CFD arena record holder in breakaway roping after winning the first qualifying round last week with 4.01 seconds. She is a four-time survivor of childhood cancer with a great perspective on life and rodeo. Linsay Sumpter, the college rodeo coach at Otero Junior College in Colorado, is a member of the famous Rosser rodeo family of California and her husband Wade is a former NFR steer wrestler. To put in perspective what it means for the breakaway ropers to compete here, her parents who are part of the Flying U Rodeo legacy caught a plane to Cheyenne to watch her compete in the preliminary rounds.
Sterling Smith of Stephenville, Texas, holds the arena record of 9.4 seconds in tie-down roping that he set last year and is looking for more success at Frontier Park. Marcos Costa, the former world champion, is back in action after sitting out for several months following knee surgery. This rodeo has been good for Costa in the past and he’s hoping that trend continues.
Team ropers Kaleb Driggers (seven NFRs) and Junior Nogueira (five) finished as runners-up for the world championships the past two years. Both are looking for their first individual event world championship. (Junior won the All-Around title in 2016.) Also, in today’s field is former world champion header Levi Simpson from Canada who is as famous for his beard as he is for his roping.
Nellie Miller, who won the CFD championship last year with a great barrel racing run in a hailstorm, is back to defend her championship. She won the preliminary round and already has won more than $8,000 in Cheyenne this year. Miller, the 2017 world champion, has been locked in a battle for the world standings lead all season with 2018 champion Hailey Kinsel.
Tennessee cowgirl Jessi Fish tied for second in the preliminary round and is primed for more success in Frontier Park. Cheyenne Wimberley retired from fulltime rodeo after back-to-back trips to the NFR in 1997-98, but could return to Las Vegas with a strong finish to the season. She’s currently ranked 19 and success at this rodeo could give a big boost to her season.