Mountain States Circuit winners will move ahead to Kissimee, Fla. | TheFencePost.com

Mountain States Circuit winners will move ahead to Kissimee, Fla.

Ninety-six rodeo contestants in the Mountain States Circuit showed up at The Ranch Events Complex in Loveland, Colo., for a chance to compete against the best in the region, as well as take home circuit finals rodeo and year-end titles.

Not only was a total purse of $182,000-plus up for grabs, but winners of each event — plus each event's year-end money leaders — also earned the chance to move ahead to the RAM National Circuit Finals next April in Kissimmee, Fla.

With about 1,200 fans filling the stands inside the arena, the bareback cowboys started the proceedings with a bang. Riding a collection of broncs from the best stock contractors in the circuit, Wyoming cowboy Seth Hardwick took the average title after a big 86.5-point ride aboard Harry Vold Rodeo's Frisky Chicken. Not to be outdone, 41-year-old Kelly Timberman pleased the crowd by scoring 84 points to place second in the average and earn the year-end money leading title in the bareback event. The chance to move ahead to the RNCF in 2018 was a big deal to the former PRCA world champion.

"It is beyond nice," Timberman said. "When you get to my age, everything you win at this level is a big thing, whether it is a check, a buckle or a title. And to be able to represent this circuit is a big deal because I believe that some of the best bareback riders of all time have come out of this circuit. It means a lot."

The veteran cowboy acknowledged his age in competing against younger contestants, especially after having retired from the sport for a few years before making a comeback. "I have to work twice as hard to be able to compete with these guys," Timberman said with a smile. "To beat them, I have to work 10 times harder, because I am older. Most of the guys I compete against, they are at least 15 years younger than I am. It took me, after retirement, about a year and a half to get to where I could win. I didn't want to come back and be the old guy that just showed up, so I had to work and work. When you put a lot of work in it, when you win something, it means more because you know what you put into it. The family that is around you, your support, your friends; it takes a team to get you there. You don't do it on your own, and it means the world to you. It really does. I am pretty thankful."

Another thankful competitor was barrel racer Shali Lord, who was able to qualify for the 2018 RNCF in Kissimmee, by nailing down the average title at the Mountain States Circuit Finals Rodeo. Lord did it aboard Can Man after winning the first two rounds and hanging on to earn the average by 12 one-hundredths of a second.

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"I am so excited," Lord said after the contest was finished. "The rodeo was awesome. This arena has been really good to me and Can Man really likes it. Our circuit finals are tough to make, but you definitely want to make it and be here, because the rounds pay so good, it's a great facility, and the ground is good. We just have a great circuit."

Lord was just as thrilled about qualifying for 2018's RNCF.

"It is so exciting," she said about heading back to the prestigious rodeo. "I won it in 2007 when it was in Pocatello (Idaho). I think it is really a big deal. It is very prestigious to go on to Kissimmee because the payout there is so amazing and it also counts toward world standings."

World standings are something tie down roper Riley Pruitt understands, after placing seventh in the world in 2016. Formerly competing in the Badlands Circuit, Pruitt switched to the Mountain States Circuit this year and the move paid off with a tie down roping average title, a year-end money leading tie down title, and a year-end money leading all around title.

"It came down to this weekend and I knew I just needed to place in a round," Pruitt said about his strategy for moving ahead to the RNCF in 2018. "After my first night I was frustrated. I messed up a good one and I didn't want to have that happen again. I came back the next night and had a really good one. I just blasted him and won the round. I came back tonight with a strong one, and I just didn't want to break the barrier and didn't want to miss. And it worked out. It was a fun weekend of roping."

The prospects of competing in Kissimmee were also on his mind.

"It is huge," Pruitt said. "Two years ago I made the circuit finals in Kissimmee and it didn't count (toward the world standings) back then. I am excited to go back, now that it counts. You have got to make the big rodeos. Every opportunity you have to win, you have to. You can't stumble." ❖

— Rogers is a freelance writer and photographer located east of Parker, Colo. He can be reached at lincoln@lincolnrogers.com or you can find him on Facebook at Official Lincoln Rogers Writing & Photography Page.

Mountain States Circuit Finals Rodeo:

Average Winners:

Bareback – Seth Hardwick

Steer wrestling – Beau Clark

Team roping- Ty Blasingame and Trey Yates

Saddle Bronc- Tyler Turco

Tie down – Riley Pruitt

Barrels – Shali Nichols Lord

Bulls – Cordell Curti

All Around – Josh Peek

Year End Money Leaders:

Bareback – Kelly Timberman

Steer wrestling – Beau Clark

Team roping – Clayton Van Aken and Richard Durham

Saddle Bronc – Brody Cress

Tie down – Riley Pruitt

Barrels- Brittany Pozzi-Tonozzi

Bulls – Cordell Curtis

All Around – Riley Pruitt