Buckles defended, a tie-breaker reversed, and breakaway roping at the “Daddy of ‘Em All”
for The Fence Post
2019 Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo Champions:
Bareback: Clayton Biglow
Women’s Breakaway Roping: Jordon Jo Fabrizio
Tie Down Roping: Seth Hall
Saddle Bronc: Brody Cress
Team Roping: Dustin Bird and Trey Yates
Steer Wrestling: Eli Lord
Steer Roping: Trey Sheets
Barrel Racing: Co-Champions Shali Lord and Nellie Miller
Bull Riding: Stetson Wright
All Around: Stetson Wright (bull riding and saddle bronc)
“Something old, something new” could have been the motto of “Championship Sunday” at the 2019 Cheyenne Frontier Days. Despite the world famous event’s 123 year history, a few “firsts” made an appearance to add to the legend of the celebrated Wyoming rodeo.
Hometown cowboy Brody Cress made the biggest splash by winning the saddle bronc riding title with an 87.50 score aboard a mare named Resistols Top Hat. It wasn’t the high kicking ride on the flashy paint that caused all the fuss; it was the fact the win earned Cress his third straight Cheyenne title, a feat never before accomplished in the previous 122 years. In an enthusiastic celebration, Cress took not one, not two, but three galloping victory laps around the huge Cheyenne arena while the crowd cheered him on.
“This rodeo, there is so much history behind it,” said Cress about being the first person ever to win three CFD titles in a row. “It is hard to come in and have things go right once. To be blessed enough to be able to come here and have the horsepower, where if I just do my job three years in a row and have it work out, that is outstanding. And in front of the hometown crowd, where so many of these people have helped me so much in my life to get me where I am right now, there is no better feeling than that.”
The Wyoming saddle bronc cowboy also described his winning ride.
“That horse is awesome,” Cress said. “She is the one you want. They win so much money on that horse and she gives you every chance she can to help you out. I just wanted to make sure and get a really good start there and get her marked out and everything. That’s a horse you dream about being able to get on.”
TIE BREAKER REVERSED
Another dream fulfilled was in the barrel racing competition. Two dreams, actually. California cowgirl Nellie Miller became the first rider since Kristie Peterson in 1998 to successfully defend a CFD barrel racing title, speeding to a time of 17.22 seconds aboard “Sister” (Rafter W Minnie Reba) in the championship round. The time tied Miller for the lead, but rodeo officials quickly announced a tie-breaker formula and awarded Miller sole possession of the win.
“It is amazing,” said Miller about earning back to back buckles. “This rodeo is such a huge deal for us. To win it once and then now twice, it is a real honor. This is an irreplaceable memory for me.”
While Miller basked in the glow of her well-deserved victory, another first occurred behind the scenes at the historic rodeo. Colorado barrel racer Shali Lord posted an identical 17.22-second time aboard her horse Can Man (Freckles Ta Fame) in the championship round, but it appeared she would earn second place as a result of a tie-breaker calculation made shortly after the last rider was finished. Upon further examination of established ground rules for the barrel racing event, CFD officials acknowledged their mistake in applying a tie-breaker formula and named Lord as co-champion with Miller for the 2019 Cheyenne rodeo. Notified on Monday evening, Lord was thrilled with the outcome.
“It is just so exciting,” said Lord of her status as 2019 Cheyenne co-champion. “We are all just really excited. I think the ground rules were different for the (PRCA events) than for the (WPRA barrel racing), so there was maybe some confusion, but it is awesome. No words can describe how neat it is, really. Cheyenne buckles aren’t easy to come by. It is something you dream of and it is just unbelievable that it is all happening.”
Something new for the tradition-rich rodeo was the inclusion of a Women’s Breakaway Roping event. Despite its long history, the event typically runs in amateur rodeos in front of maybe a hundred or two hundred people in the stands. That all changed when the famous “Daddy of ‘Em All” included it on their 2019 schedule, culminating in Texas cowgirl Jordon Jo Fabrizio winning a Cheyenne buckle in front of thousands of spectators. The moment was not lost on her while the packed crowd cheered during her emotional victory lap.
“We don’t have the opportunity to rope like this in this situation and this atmosphere,” said Fabrizio about competing in Cheyenne. “So it is exciting and honestly just overwhelming. It feels amazing. I told someone today I never really thought or dreamt we would have the opportunity to be here. I think, just speaking for every girl that was here, we were all proud to just be a part of it.”
Something else new was a tournament style format implemented by CFD after more than a century of awarding titles based upon the cumulative “average” scores of the competitors. As stated in their official programs: “Each rodeo performance will see event winners and money paid out each day. Competition will start with a clean slate in each bracket, including Finals Sunday where the highest scores and fastest times will be the 2019 CFD Champions!”
While the change was a big one, a winner who earned CFD buckles the old way plus the new way did not seem to mind.
“You know, I like this format,” said three-time saddle bronc CFD winner and history maker Brody Cress. “It is easier for the crowd to follow and it is more exciting for us where you have to come in and progress each round. The final day it makes it exciting since it is a clean slate. No matter how you have done, as long as you get there you have a chance of winning it. That makes it exciting where you want to step out and dang sure ride your best.”
Being the best is what the world famous Cheyenne Frontier Days is all about. Watching history made in the arena and witnessing the long-standing rodeo try new things will ensure it remains the “Daddy of ‘Em All” for many years to come. ❖
— Rogers is a freelance writer and photographer located east of Parker, Colo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can find him on Facebook at Official Lincoln Rogers Writing & Photography Page.