Jan. 26 was a day for champions at the 2014 National Western Stock Show.
Winning buckles and the hearts of Rocky Mountain rodeo fans were world title holders in the sport of cowboys and cowgirls. From multiple gold buckle winners, like Trevor Brazile, Cody Ohl, Dean Gorsuch and Chad Ferley to 2012 barrel racing title holder Mary Walker, champions in their events showed up that Sunday afternoon to earn wins at the historic Denver rodeo.
And then another champion was added to the mix.
Texas bareback cowboy Richie Champion arrived in Denver riding a streak of luck a mile high. The 21 year old successfully defended his 2013 win in the invitational Colorado vs. The World Rodeo on the first Saturday of the NWSS, but his Colorado hot streak didn’t end there.
Returning for the PRCA rodeo, Champion lived up to his name in the short round and claimed a tie for the prestigious buckle with Austin Foss. Needing 87 points to tie for the title, Champion seized a reride opportunity aboard a big, strong Calgary Stampede horse named Shadow Warrior. The high-flying duo thrilled the big crowd with their ride, but ticket holders weren’t the only ones excited by the outcome.
“Unbelievable,” described Champion the day after winning a share of the NWSS title. “I had only seen that horse a couple of times, but I knew he was good. He ripped out of there pretty hard and kind of hit me and after that, once he stacked up and started leaping and hanging, I was having a ball,” Champion added with a laugh. “It was incredible.”
His luck still held behind the scenes when Foss and Champion were asked to flip a coin for the NWSS buckle on hand. The winner would receive the buckle, while the loser of the toss would wait for another custom buckle to be made. After Champion told Foss of his run of good fortune in Denver, Foss chose heads and it came up tails.
“I told him,” laughed Champion about his mile-high hot streak. “I said, ‘you call it.’ He called heads and it was tails. I said ‘okay, this is just getting creepy; I need to get out of here,’” he finished with another laugh.
Another competitor liking Denver was Texas barrel racer Mary Walker. Like Champion, Walker also won last year’s Colorado vs. The World rodeo and then arrived back in Denver this year hoping to add a NWSS buckle to her collection. Seeded second in the final round, a 15.42-second run aboard “Latte” gave her what she was looking for and the buckle was made even sweeter since it happened on her birthday.
“It’s the most wonderful birthday present in the whole wide world,” laughed Walker while she clutched a box containing her shiny new gift/buckle. “I turned 55 today. For an old lady, I feel pretty good,” she said with a grin.
Asked about performing in front of over 8,200 enthusiastic rodeo fans in the Denver Coliseum, Walker offered high praise for the crowd.
“They have the most magnificent fans that you can even imagine for rodeos,” she stated. “This place is packed and it’s roaring. The Denver Broncos ought to be proud of their hometown, because they do have the greatest fans.”
Those greatest fans saw the greatest PRCA competitor add yet another buckle to his trophy case. Texas cowboy Trevor Brazile partnered with Travis Graves to win Denver’s historic rodeo in just their second team roping competition together, and the record breaking veteran liked what he saw in the Denver Coliseum stands.
“I think the crowd has been better,” compared Brazile of this year to past years turnouts. “I just want to thank the fans for their support and coming out the way they did during the week and not just for the finals. It was cool to compete in front of them.”
Nebraska saddle bronc cowboy Cort Scheer also thought it was cool to compete in the NWSS short round, and he loved winning the title in front of family and friends. Scheer came into the round sitting first and kept the lead with a tough 86-point ride aboard a tricky Calgary Stampede horse named Until Kamloops.
“That horse, I didn’t know anything about it,” Scheer offered right after he picked up his buckle. “I’ve never seen it before. They just said he’s a buckin’ rascal and I said, all right,” he continued with a laugh. “So I got on him and he had me loose. He kind of got me looking. In like three seconds he had me off him pretty much. Praise the Lord I stayed back on him.”
A fellow Nebraskan was just as happy as Scheer with the final rodeo results.
“I love this rodeo,” said Dean Gorsuch after he picked up his own gleaming buckle. Like Scheer, Gorsuch led wire-to-wire in the event and turned in a solid 4.7-second run to keep the rest of the field at bay. “I’ve had good luck in the past here, (but) I’ve never won it. I’ve come back high call before and haven’t won it. Gosh, it’s a blessing and I want to thank my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.”
Nebraskans weren’t the only cowboys thanking the Good Lord after winning the average.
Wyoming bull rider Bobby Welsh riveted the crowd with an 86-point ride on a big one-horned Summit bull named Tuff Stuff and he described the ride shortly after.
“I’d seen that bull a couple of times and knew he was really gonna buck,” began Welsh. “He’s big and strong and I knew if I could just do my part he was going to put me in position to win. I just had to stay on and praise God it worked out. I couldn’t ask to start this year off any better.”
Like everyone else, Welsh had positive words for the animated crowd.
“The fans came out to support anything from the sale to the kids and then they came out and supported us in the rodeo,” he started on the topic. “When Mary Walker and the gals from Colorado run, they just stood on their feet. That really pumps you up and gets your adrenaline running and then when they do it for you, it’s amazing.”
Judging by the action inside the arena and the subsequent words of the winners, it was an amazing day for both champions and rodeo fans lucky enough to see it all in 2014’s NWSS final round of rodeo. ❖
2014 NWSS Rodeo Results
Bareback: TIE-Richie Champion (Tex) & Austin Foss (Ore.)
Steer Wrestling: Dean Gorsuch (Neb.)
Team Roping: Trevor Brazile (Tex.)/Travis Graves (Okla.)
Saddle Bronc: Cort Scheer (Neb.)
Tie Down: Cody Ohl (Tex.)
Barrel Racing: Mary Walker (Tex.)
Bull Riding: Bobby Welsh (Wyo.)
All Around: Trevor Brazile (
Team Roping and Tie Down Roping)