From rookies to seasoned rodeo vets, the 120th Cheyenne Frontier Days crowns ‘em all |

From rookies to seasoned rodeo vets, the 120th Cheyenne Frontier Days crowns ‘em all

In the historic venue known for its big-action steer wrestling, California cowboy Billy Bugenig nailed down a solid time of 10.7 seconds to earn second place in the average at the 2016 Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. His results over three rounds of action in the world famous rodeo earned him over $15,000 in prize money.

2016 Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo Winners:

Bareback Riding – Orin Larsen, Inglis, Manitoba, 255.5 points, $16,331

Steer Wrestling – J.D. Struxness, Appleton, Minn., 26.7 seconds, $15,583

Team Roping – (header) Tyler Wade, Terrell, Texas, 27.0 seconds, $17,261

(heeler) Dakota Kirchenschlager, Morgan Mill, Texas, $17,261

Saddle Bronc Riding – Jacobs Crawley, Boerne, Texas, $16.480

Tie-Down Roping – Jerome Schneeberger, Ponca City, Okla., 39.1 seconds, $11,434

Barrel Racing – Tillar Murray, Fort Worth, Texas, 52.73 seconds, $16,417

Bull Riding – Roscoe Jarboe, New Plymouth, Idaho, 246 points, $12,512

Steer Roping – Jarrett Blessing, Paradise, Texas, 53.9 seconds, $11,033

All-Around – J.D. Yates, Pueblo, Colo., $24,351 won in team roping and steer roping

For 120 years, Cheyenne Frontier Days has served up rodeo entertainment on a big scale. Along the way, its distinctive buckle for winning the rodeo has become a coveted prize for professional competitors in the sport.

From rookies to veterans with decades of experience, more than a thousand contestants anted up in 2016 for a chance at rodeo glory and a piece of the $832,839 total purse. By July 31, the field was narrowed to about 100 contestants for the championship round.

In his sixth year as a pro, Canadian bareback rider Orin Larsen started the winning in Cheyenne by riding United Pro Rodeo’s Happy Trails to a score of 86.50 points in front of a packed stadium. The score gave Larsen the bareback title and helped him pocket more than $16,000 in the process.

“It is just amazing. To win Cheyenne, to even be a part of Cheyenne, it’s a great honor,” Larsen said. “With all the rich history involved with it, and to ride against your buddies who are the top guys in the world, there is nothing better than that. When you make the short round at Cheyenne, it is anyone’s game. The guy in last place has as big a shot as the guy in first. Anything can happen in Cheyenne, and I am just happy it worked out the way it did.”

Larsen’s words proved true in the Tie Down Roping event, where Oklahoma cowboy Jerome Schneeberger entered the final round in last place, but ended the event with the coveted buckle in his grasp. Four seconds behind the leader, Schneeberger’s chances to win in his 20th try at Cheyenne were considered slim.

“I thought (winning the title) could happen, but I didn’t think about winning it until the last roper started having a bit of trouble,” said Schneeberger.

Another veteran competitor showed up big in front of over 13,000 fans when current PRCA world champ saddle bronc rider Jacobs Crawley rode a young, athletic bronc named Instant Noodle for the high score of the final round. The 88.50 point effort put a buckle in his hands and over $16,000 in his wallet. After describing a victory in Cheyenne as being on everybody’s bucket list, he also talked about competing in a short go in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

“I feel like that is why rough stock riders do what we do,” Crawley said. “It is for that, the pressure, on top of the scenario of the short go finals. It is riding against your friends on the top horses. It is how rodeo started. ‘Who can ride the rankest animal?’ It is the foundation of what it is, and it’s pretty special.”

The fans were also treated to something special when the team ropers took the stage. Although a Colorado father-son duo of J.D. and Trey Yates nailed down third place in the average, and helped the elder J.D. earn All Around Cowboy honors, it was their family history which made it memorable. The Cheyenne arena is also where the elder J.D. roped with his father, Dick. To be able to qualify for the final round with his own son was a moving experience for the 56-year-old veteran roper.

“At the end of the day and at the end of your career, that is the most important thing to me,” Yate said. “I love all the accolades and I love all the winning and all of that, but I want to raise a good kid.”

There were other good kids competing in Cheyenne’s short go, and they showed up when it counted. Steer wrestler J.D. Struxness is in just his second year of pro rodeo, but the big and tall Minnesotan bested a talented field to earn a title and almost $16,000.

“I wasn’t totally planning on winning first, but I was (darn) sure going to give it a try,” Struxness said. “To do it this early in my career, it’s great. Guys dream about this for years and some of them never take it away.”

Barrel racer Tillar Murray could relate. In just her second year as a pro, the 19-year-old Texan rode Royal Star Commander to a time of 17.59 seconds in the short go to win a Cheyenne title over such barrel racing luminaries as Lisa Lockhart and Sherry Cervi.

“It’s so surreal,” said Murray. “It is just so special to win it, I can’t even explain it. It is just all a blur right now. I’m sure it will hit later, but it is just so fun and special to be here.”

With even less pro experience under his belt, 20-year-old rookie bull rider Roscoe Jarboe delighted the crowd with a lot of try on a challenging bull. His 81-point score aboard Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Texas Twist was enough to keep the Idaho cowboy ahead of Jeff Askey and earn a huge win in just his first attempt at the rodeo known as the “Daddy of ‘Em All.”

“We all expect to win, and I expect nothing less, but to actually get it down is amazing,” Jarboe said. “To have that buckle in my hand, it is bragging rights against everybody..” ❖

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