In front of empty grandstands, the cowboys at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo put on a show.
One record was broken, and another was matched in a year that saw empty grandstands on three of the rodeo’s four nights, due to COVID-19.
Nelson Wyatt, Clanton, Alabama, and Levi Lord, Sturgis, South Dakota, made a 3.8 second run to win the team roping and beat the old record, set in 2018 at 4.4 seconds by Curry Kirchner and Chase Boekhaus.
For Lord, who is 24 years old, it wasn’t a surprise.
“I’ve been to that rodeo a lot of times, and (the team roping) usually isn’t that fast, so I figured we broke it,” he said.
The pair is having the best year of their pro rodeo career. Nelson is ranked ninth in the PRCA’s world standings and Lord is eighth, and they’re hitting every rodeo they can get to.
But so is everybody else. The virus pandemic has canceled more than 350 pro rodeos across the nation, making for larger numbers of contestants at them.
“The rodeos have been tough because everyone has the best guys in the world, with close to 100 teams,” he said. “It’s definitely been different and it’s been tough but it’s worked out for us so far.”
Rodeoing has always required a lot of travel but it’s even more so this year, Lord said.
“They’re so spread out and we’ve been entering quite a few,” Lord said. “You rope at one and have to get in the truck to the next one.”
They’re mentally preparing to compete on pro rodeo’s biggest stage, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in December.
“We’ll try to finish out the year doing what we can do, controlling what we can control, and we’ll see how it works out from there,” Lord said.
Missouri man Denton Fugate won the bull riding. He scored 88 points on Beutler and Son Rodeo’s Roll Tide, after having seen Jeff Askey win the Burwell, Neb. rodeo on him two weeks ago.
“I drew him and was just lucky to have him,” he said. “He kept trying to drop me off on the inside of the spin in the well. I just kept fighting him, staying out of the well, and it worked out.”
The 25 year old man won San Antonio, Texas and two other rodeos over the winter and was having the best year of his career when COVID-19 hit. Over the July fourth holiday, he won a little money, but “after that it’s been really slow.” He dropped from ninth in the world standings to sixteenth over several weeks.
The North Platte rodeo “was definitely a need-to-ride situation,” he said.
He’s been overanalyzing bull riding lately, he believes. “I’ve been forcing it too much instead of letting it happen. I quit thinking about it and it worked out tonight.”
The win could turn things around, he said. “It already has, I feel like. I’m excited about it.”
Other 2020 champions include steer wrestler Cody Devers, Balko, Oklahoma (3.6 seconds), tie-down roper Macon Murphy, Keatchie, Louisiana (7.8 seconds); saddle bronc rider Jake Finlay, Goondiwindi, Australia (87.5 points); breakaway roper Syerra “C.Y.” Christensen, Kennebec, South Dakota (2.3 seconds) and barrel racer Michelle Alley, Madisonville, Texas (17.20 seconds).
Buffalo Bill Rodeo
Wild West Arena
All-around champion: Zach Jongbloed, Iowa, La. — tie-down roping and steer wrestling
Bareback riding — 2020 champion: Tilden Hooper, Carthage, Texas
1. Tilden Hooper, Carthage, Texas 89 points on Rocky Mountain Rodeo’s Hard Times; 2. Tim O’Connell, Zwingle, Iowa 86.5; 3. Zach Hibler, Wheeler, Texas 84.5; 4. Kaycee Feild, Genola, Utah 82.5; 5. Pascal Isabelle, Okotoks, Alb. 82; 6. Will Martin, Goodwell, Okla. 81; 7. Blaine Kauffman, Pretty Prairie, Kan. 80; 8. (tie) Jesse Pope, Marshall, Mo. and Craig Wisehart, Kersey, Colo. 78 each.
Steer wrestling — 2020 champion: Cody Devers, Balko, Okla.
1. Cody Devers, Balko, Oklahoma 3.6 seconds; 2. (tie) Cole Edge, Durant, Okla. and Tanner Milan, Cochrane, Alb. 3.8 each;
4. Jace Melvin, Ft. Pierre, S.D. 4.0 each; 5. (tie) Jacob Talley, Keatchie, La., J.D. Struxness, Milan, Minn., Cade Staton, Jonesboro, Texas and Dakota Eldridge, Fallon, Nev. 4.1 each; 9. (tie) Stetson Jorgensen, Blackfoot, Idaho, Will Lummus, Byhalia, Miss., and Blair Jones, Colby, Kan. 4.2 each.
Tie-down roping — 2020 champion: Macon Murphy, Keatchie, La.
1. Macon Murphy, Keatchie, La. 7.8 seconds; 2. Cory Solomon, Prairie View, Texas 8.0; 3. Will Howell, Stillwater, Okla. 8.4; 4.. Ryan Jarrett, Comanche, Okla. 8.5; 5.Ben Robinson, Red Deer County, Alberta 8.7; 6. (tie) Kyle Lucas, Carstairs, Alb. and Zach Jongbloed, Iowa, La. 8.8 each; 8. Trey Young, Dupree, S.D. 8.9; 9. Chance Oftedahl, Pemberton, Minn. 9.1; 10. Lane Livingston, Seymour, Texas 9.2.
Saddle bronc riding — 2020 champion: Jake Finlay, Goondiwndi, Australia
1. Jake Finlay, Goondiwindi, Australia 85.5 points on Beutler and Son Rodeo’s Night Latch; 2. Taos Muncy, Corona, N.M. 89.5; 3. Jacob Kammerer, Philip, S.D. 85;
4. (tie) Keene Justesen, St. Cloud, Fla. and Jesse Bail, Camp Crook, S.D., 84 each; 6. (tie) Tegan Smith, Winterset, Iowa and Cole Elshere, Faith, S.D. 80.5 each; 8. Brady Hill, Onida, S.D. 80.
Breakaway Roping — 2020 champion: Syerra (C.Y.) Christensen, Kennebec, S.D.
1. Syerra (C.Y.) Christensen, Kennebec, S.D.2.3 seconds; 2. Katie Mundorf, Mullen, Neb. 2.4; 3. Alyssa Lockhart, Oelrichs, S.D. 2.6; 4. (tie) Samantha Jorgenson, Watford City, N.D., Misti Brown, Valentine, Neb. and Erin Johnson, 2.7 each; 7. Ceri Ward, Wayne, Okla. 3.0 seconds; 8. Brandi Hollenbeck, Mooreland, Okla. 3.1.
Team roping — 2020 champions: Nelson Wyatt, Clanton, Ala./Levi Lord, Sturgis, S.D.
1. Nelson Wyatt, Clanton, Ala./Levi Lord, Sturgis, S.D. 3.8 seconds; 2. Steven Duby, Hereford, Ore./Evan Arnold, Stephenville, Texas 4.6 seconds;3.(tie) Clint Summers, Lake City, Fla./Douglas Rich, Herrick, Ill. and Andrew Ward, Edmond, Okla./Buddy Hawkins II, Stephenville, Texas 5.0 each; 5. (tie) Jake Orman, Prairie, Miss./Brye Crites,Welch, Okla.and Aaron Tsinigine, Tuba City, Ariz./Kyle Lockett, Visalia, Calif. 5.1 seconds each; 7. (tie) Colby Lovell, Madisonville, Texas/Paul Eaves, Lonedell, Mo. and Tyler Wade, Terrell, Texas/Billie Jack Saebens, Nowata, Okla. 5.2 each; 9. Reno Cash Stoebner, Stephenville, Texas/Colton Brittain, Rockwall, Texas 5.3; 10. (tie) Jake Cooper, Monument, Ariz./Caleb Anderson, Mocksville, N.C. and Clayton Van Aken, Yoder, Wyo./Levi Tyan, Wallace, Neb. 5.4 each.
Barrel racing — 2020 champion: Michelle Alley, Madisonville, Texas
1. Michelle Alley, Madisonville, Texas 17.20 seconds; 2. (tie) Amanda Welsch, Gillette, Wyo. and Tiany Schuster, Krum, Texas 17.51 each; 4. Destri Devenport, Escondido, Calif. 17.55; 5. Megan Swint, Dunnellon, Fla. 17.57; 6. Cindy Smith, Lovington, N.M.17.58; 7. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, Lampasas, Texas 17.60; 8. Michelle Darling, Medford, Okla. 17.63; 9. Jimmie Smith, McDade, Texas 17.64; 10. Emily Miller, Weatherford, Okla. 17.65; 11. Stevi Hillman, Weatherford, Texas 17.66; 12. (tie) Carly Taylor, Andersonville, Tenn. and Kathy Grimes, Medical Lake, Wash. 17.69 each.
Bull riding — 2020 champion: Denton Fugate, Niangua, Mo.
1. Denton Fugate, Niangua, Mo. 88 points on Beutler and Son Rodeo’s Roll Tide; 2. (tie) Brody Yeary, Morgan Mill, Texas and Jesse Hopper, Mangum, Okla. 82 each; 4. Jeston Mead, Holcomb, Kan. 78; 5. Ty Wallace, Colbran, Colo. 74; 6. Clayton Sellars, Fruitland Park, Fla. 72; 7.Trey Kimzey, Strong City, Okla. 69.
** All results are unofficial.
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