The Farm-City Pro Rodeo was all set for the third night of action on Friday, but Mother Nature had other plans.
At 8:24 p.m., rodeo officials stopped the action after the tie-down roping because of lightning strikes in the area. Strong winds and thunder also rolled through, sending fans scrambling for shelter.
Within 10 minutes of halting the action in the arena, a torrential downpour hit Hermiston.
Caleb Smidt, who had an 8.6 second run in the first go, trussed up his calf in 10.4 seconds in the second for a time of 19 seconds on two head to take the lead in the average.
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Cade Swor had the top run of 8.7 seconds.
The top score of 86 points held in the bareback, but Luke Creasy and Tilden Hooper turned in matching 82s to move into a three-way tie for third with Kyle Bowers.
Ty Breuer and Clint Laye share the lead heading into tonight’s final round.
For Hooper, it was just his 10th rodeo of the season. He had neck surgery 10 months ago.
“I’m finally healthy for the first time in 5 years,” said Hooper, who rode Princess Warrior. “There’s no better feeling than when I got off that horse with everyone screaming and yelling.”
Creasy, a Canadian cowboy, got his points on a Canadian horse — Rum Flavoured.
“I’ve been on that horse twice before this year and earned money the second time,” Creasy said. “It’s a really nice horse. A bit of a handful, but he was a little easier this time.”
Action in the arena resumed around 9:35 p.m. with the steer wrestling. Ethan Thouvenell brought down his steer in 4.3 seconds, but with no time on his first run, he’s out of the running for the title.
Clayton Moore, who had a 5.1-second run in the first go, had a 7.1-second run in the second for a total of 12.2 seconds on two head. He’s in the running for the Mike Currin Memorial Buckle, given to the winner of the event.
“It has been tough bulldoggin’ here this year,” Moore said. “The steers have been big and stout. I’d be tickled to death to finish first here, but there are a lot of guys left tomorrow night.”
The saddle bronc followed the steer wrestling, and got a new leader as Chet Johnson took Navajo Sun for an 85-point ride.
Johnson, who waited out the storm with the rest of the cowboys and fans, is 13th in the world standings, but not by much. A paycheck in Hermiston would go a long way.
“I’ve never been in a position where they had to stop the rodeo,” Johnson said. “They did a great job of keeping everyone safe. This is a prestigious rodeo. It’s my favorite of the week. I’m on the bubble and some money here would be nice.”