Its getting down to the nitty gritty in the rodeo world. Theres only about a month left for owboys to fill their pockets full of cash in hopes of earning a trip to the National Finals Rodeo, so every ride and lasso becomes that much more important.
On Saturday, on the final night of the Horse Heaven Round-Up, saddle bronc rider Dustin Flundra of Pincher Creek, Alberta, knew he had a good horse. The only standing between him and a decent paycheck was himself.
Flundra, on the back of Kool Toddy, who gave Louie Brunson a 90-point ride on Thursday, turned in the top ride of the night, worth 86 points, which put him second overall.
I was pretty excited when I found out I had her, Flundra said of the 14-year old mare. This is the third time Ive been on her and the first time to ride her (for 8 seconds). You are happy any time Kool Toddy is next to your name.
A stack of money will go a long way for Flundra, who is 21st in the world standings and about $11,000 out of the top 15.
All you can ask as a bronc rider is a chance, Flundra said. I need to make some decent money over the next couple of weeks. You have until Pendleton to earn really good money. By then, you had better be close (to the top 15).
One cowboy not worried about the world standings is Hermiston tie-down roper Brad Goodrich.
Goodrich had the top run of the night at 8.2 seconds. He may earn a little money, and thats OK.
Im getting old. Im just a circuit cowboy, Goodrich said. I had a good calf and a good run, but things didnt go my way.
It was tough for a lot of ropers, who missed their calves or their charges kicked free before the 6-second rule set in.
This is a pivotal week for a lot of guys trying to make the NFR, Goodrich said. There are very few good ones (rodeos) left. Its the start of the fourth quarter and the end of the game is coming up. Everyone steps it up and it shows in the runs. With great risk comes reward, but also great failure.
Caleb Bennett turned in an 82 on Cougar Mountain in the bareback event. He is 21st in the world standings and $11,000 out of the top 15. He earned a fourth-place paycheck at the HHRU.
I knew I had a chance to win, Bennett said. R.C. Landingham was on that horse two weeks ago and had an 85. Im on the bubble right now and I have to start winning some big checks.
Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill had the quick run of the night in team toping at 5 seconds. They also finished first in the average at 10.5 seconds on two head.
No one came close to besting the top time in the second round (3.5 seconds) of the steer wrestling. Payden McIntyre turfed his steer in 5 seconds and was one of just three posted times of the night.
Wade Sumpters 7.8 seconds on two head also held up for the top money.
Once again, the bull riding did not produce any eye-popping scores. Jeffrey Ramagos turned in a 74, but fell short of Shane Proctors 83, which held up for first place.
Cheneys Pamela Capper held on to the barrel racing lead at 17.15 seconds as Sue Smiths 17.51 was the best run the night.
Saturdays performance winners
Bareback Caleb Bennett, 82 points. Tie-down roping Brad Goodrich, 8.2 seconds. Steer wrestling Paden McIntyre, 5.0. Saddle bronc Dustin Flundra, 86 points. Team roping Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill, 5.0. Barrel racing Sue Smith, 17:56. Bull riding Jeffrey Ramagos, 74 points.
First go-round winners
Tie-down roping Cory Solomon 7.8 seconds; Jared Ferguson, 7.8. Steer wrestling Seth Brockman, 3.6; Tanner Milan, 3.6. Team roping Luke Brown and Kollin Von Ahn, 5.0.
Second go-round winners
Tie-down roping Jesse Clark, 7.3 seconds. Steer wrestling (tie) Jake Rinehart and Tyler Waguespack, 3.5. Team roping Clay Smith and Jake Smith, 4.8 and Arky Rogers and Walt Woodard, 4.8.
Average on two
Tie-down roping Hunter Herrin 16.0 seconds. Steer wrestling Wade Sumpter, 7.8. Team roping Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill, 10.5.