HERMISTON — Tuf Cooper remembers his first trip to the Farm-City Pro Rodeo in 2008.
The two-time world champion admitted he was scared, but the rookie cowboy rode away with the tie-down title.
If a guy like Cooper was nervous, just think what the calves and steers were going through Wednesday night, performing in just their second rodeo.
“These were fresh calves,” said Cooper, who leads the average on two head at 19.5 seconds. “It’s an old-school tradition here at Hermiston to have fresh calves. They put on a good rodeo here. All we have to do is show up and win.”
Cooper leads the first go-round with a 9.6 and had a 9.9 in the second go. Chase Williams had the top time Wednesday night with an 8.9.
“This was just the first set of cowboys,” Cooper said. “This is one of the biggest rodeos of the weekend and there are three sets of cowboys to go. I’m thankful I got two tied down.”
Steer wrestler Ty Erickson of Helena, Mont., also faced a fresh pen of steers, but he knew if he was to make any money, he’d have to take the upper hand.
Erickson, the 2011 steer wrestling rookie of the year, turfed his steer in 5 seconds, while Jason Thomas was second at 6 seconds. There were seven cowboys who never got decent shot at taking down their steers.
“The first place they went was Cheyenne, then straight here,” Erickson said of the steers. “Some had been turned and some hadn’t. I knew mine would be pretty good. This is a big tour rodeo and I knew I’d have to be fast to place.”
Bareback rider Ty Breuer of Mandan, S.D., was the lucky cowboy to have his name drawn for the Coca-Cola Showdown and a chance to put $500 in his pocket for an 8-second ride.
Breuer didn’t have to have the top score of the night, just a legal ride on Starburst. He got both.
Breuer, the 2012 bareback rookie of the year, turned in an 86-point ride on the brown mare to go two points up on Matt Lait of Stavely, Alberta, whose 84 points lasted through 10 cowboys before Breuer came out of the chute.
“This is a very good way to start the weekend,” said Breuer, who was short on words as he was hurrying to catch his ride to Lovington, N.M.
Taos Muncy and Isaac Diaz turned in matching 83s in the saddle bronc event, and of the 13 riders, were the only two to post scores better than 74.
In the bull riding, it was bulls 10, cowboys 0 — make that 12-0 as the two re-rides also went to the bulls.
Travis Tryan and Jake Long turned in the hot run in the team roping at 4.6 seconds, while Sammi Bessert of Loma, Colo., maneuvered the barrels for a top time of 17.20 seconds.
Tie-down: Tuf Cooper, 9.6; Cory Soloman, 9.9; Jake Hannum, 10.2. Steer wrestling: Morgan Grant, 7.7; Cody Cabral, 8.4; K.C. Jones, 15.8. Team roping: Chad Masters and Randon Adams, 5.0; Spencer Mitchell and Dakota Kirchenschlager, 5.1; Victor Ugalde and Daxton Jim, 8.0. Barrel racing: Christina Richman, 17.53; Benette Little, 17.60; Lexi Gross, 17.60
Wednesday night’s performance
Bareback— Ty Breuer 86. Tie-down roping — Chase Williams 8.9. Steer wrestling — Ty Erickson 5.0. Saddle bronc — Taos Muncy and Isaac Diaz 83. Team roping — Travis Tryan and Jake Long 4.6. Barrel racing — Sammi Bessert 17.20. Bull riding — No scores.