National Western Rodeo Finals Provide One Big Thrill After Another | TheFencePost.com

National Western Rodeo Finals Provide One Big Thrill After Another

Lincoln RogersJust like the real world, the Priefert Percherons do all the work while the passengers take the credit during one of many entertaining breaks at the NWSS championship round.

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It started out normal enough, with upbeat music getting the large crowd warmed up before the National Western Stock Show’s (NWSS) rodeo final on a cold Sunday afternoon in Denver. Only the veteran rodeo announcer, Boyd Polhamus, seemed to have an inkling of the magic in store for the jam-packed crowd.

“I’m excited as a rodeo fan,” said Polhamus beforehand about the day’s card of competitors and roughstock. “I’m excited about the lineup. It looks a lot like Las Vegas. I think almost every event we either have a world champion or we have someone that has been in the NFR several times. So, when you look at the lineup of the horses and the bulls and the cowboys we have, it’s a pretty exciting day.”

It was exciting, all right, and it showed from the get-go.

The Bareback event came out swinging, with Kessler Rodeo’s Cool Alley showing the crowd (and Oregon cowboy Tyson Thompson) why she is one of the best bucking broncs in the business. Once Thompson hit the dirt in defeat, the rest of the cowboys got the message and 80 plus scores proceeded to flow like water ” much to the delight of the screaming crowd. Things got real interesting when Dustin Reeves (South Dakota) notched an 87 with three riders remaining. After two more successful rides were in the books, local favorite Tim Shirley (Conifer, Colorado), the last remaining cowboy, needed 82 points to tie and 83 for the win. Aboard Kessler Rodeo’s Silver Moon, Shirley let it all hang out with a gutsy ride for 82 points and a tie with Reeves for the NWSS Bareback title.

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Picking up the title and a check for $6,335, however, wasn’t even the highlight of Shirley’s weekend.

“I just got married yesterday, so we’re on our honeymoon and came here,” revealed a grinning Shirley immediately after the buckle presentation. “It’s awesome. This weekend couldn’t get any better. I could not ask for anything better than what’s happened.”

The double-whammy excitement of his wedding and winning the venue he prowled during his childhood and teenage years could not be contained.

“I don’t even know how to say how happy I am,” he added with more smiles and laughter. “(Winning the NWSS) is something I’ve always wanted to do ” I grew up with this and we’d come down here every year, so I don’t even know how to say it. It’s awesome.”

The rest of the rodeo was awesome, as well. Straight from the Bareback tie, the crowd was in for another treat with the Steer Wrestlers. Although big Jake Rinehart of South Dakota held a half-second lead coming into the final, his fellow competitors weren’t ready to surrender. Colorado cowboy, Ken Lewis, thrilled the fans with a 4.0 second run early in the event, but he wasn’t the only one gunning for the lead. Canadian Curtis Cassidy (Alberta) nailed down a 4.4 to pull in front and force Rinehart to wrestle a 4.9 for a tie and 4.8 or better to win. Rinehart responded with a ” you guessed it ” 4.9. That made two events down and two ties for the excited crowd.

“It’s outstanding,” said Cassidy of claiming a tie for first place. “They put on a (heck) of rodeo here. It’s always great to come back here every year and compete and try to win some money. Of course, when you win, it makes it even better,” he finished with a laugh.

“Denver’s got a great crowd,” agreed Rinehart with a smile. “It’s a pretty good place to win it.”

Asked if he saw a tie coming, Rinehart lit up another smile before answering. “I don’t know what to expect on a day like this,” he said about the high-octane finale and the white-knuckle finishes. “You just hope for the best.”

The jam-packed Coliseum wasn’t only hoping for the best, they were getting it. The Texas duo of Chad Masters and Michael Jones earned the Team Roping title as they blistered the field by more than a second with a 4.4 effort, allowing them to come from the middle of the pack to take top honors in both the championship round and overall at the NWSS. Then the Saddle Bronc cowboys revved it up yet another notch.

Mountain States Circuit young gun, Seth Glause (Wyoming) held a slim lead coming into the championship round, and the crowd was behind him all the way. But when Texan Bradley Harter sizzled the sand with 88 points aboard Burch Rodeo’s Mullen Hill, the task proved daunting. Needing 86 points for the win, Glause rode hard to earn 83 and overall runner-up. The win was Harter’s second in three years at the NWSS, pretty good considering he was unsure about even attending the rodeo after taking a look at his draw the week before.

“I had two colts that I didn’t know anything about, so I was a little nervous to come,” began Hart on the topic. “My wife, she was real positive, so I came up here and they were outstanding and I couldn’t have picked a better one today. I had the best horse out today and I just thank God that it worked out the way it did.”

Questioned about his thoughts during the final ride, the humble cowboy laughed as he answered.

“You know, I think I have the best job in the world,” he said with genuine enthusiasm. “I get to get on one of the best bucking horses in one of the best rodeos. It makes you real thankful for the job we have. This is a great rodeo and a great crowd,” he added. “I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

With tension and excitement mounting during each event, the spectators couldn’t ask for anything better, but they were still getting it. Colorado cowboy Josh Peek was ahead in the Tie Down Roping standings, and everyone in attendance wanted to see him take the buckle home. Problem was, he was going up against cowboys named Tuf Cooper, Clint Robinson and Fred Whitfield.

With Cooper, Robinson, and Whitfield lassoing times from 8.2-8.7 seconds, it was up to Peek as the last competitor to beat 10.1 seconds and take the home state title for himself. Deciding not to play it safe, Peek scorched an 8.6 and sent the crowd into a frenzy.

“I wanted to make a statement in Denver,” said Peek afterward, revealing he dedicated the win to his injured grandmother in the hospital. “I wanted to come in the first of the year and let them know, even though last year was tough (with a disappointing NFR performance), I’m still here. I wanted to rope to the best of my ability and I wanted to win it outright. I didn’t want to win it with a 10 flat and win it. I wanted to win it all the way across the board,” continued the faith-filled cowboy. “It really felt good to be strong and confident and rope tough.”

Asked how it felt to win not only the Tie Down buckle, but the All-Around buckle at his home state NWSS rodeo, Peek had a ready answer.

“It was awesome, really, because I’ve always struggled at Denver in the past,” he said about the historic venue. “I’ve always struggled with injuries going into the first of the year, so it’s made it pretty hard to compete. To come out of there with the All-Around and with the Tie Down Roping titles meant a lot just because it’s my hometown crowd.”

A reasonable person would assume the voices of eight thousand fans would be spent by the time Peek’s accomplishments were finished, but reasonable people don’t brave winter elements to absorb the thrills, chills, and spills of championship rodeo. Every one of those voices shouted loud while Utah cowgirl Nancy Hunter sped to the fastest time in the final round (15.36 seconds), earning first place overall and almost $6,000 in the Barrel Racing event.

Then came the bull riders.

Although young Wyoming cowboy Kanin Asay held a commanding 13 point lead coming into the championship round (courtesy of a holy-cow score of 93 aboard the “unrideable” Lucky Strike), nobody concedes nothing in a final round … especially the bulls. A cowboy still needs to stay aboard a beast with bad intentions for eight long seconds ­” except for Asay, who is making of habit of needing at least 13 or 14 seconds at every NWSS.

Before Asay rode last, high scores flashed on the Coliseum’s big screen like lightning, electrifying everyone in the place as Clayton Savage earned 90 and Corey Navarre put up 81 to make the whole thing a lot more interesting. When Asay finally strapped in, it was hard to hear yourself think. The crowd cheered as the gate opened and Asay rode into the ring. He tried to stay aboard but couldn’t tame the beast. In less then eight seconds, he fell on his back and had the wind and his title hopes knocked completely from his chest.

That was, until the announcer let everyone know a re-ride option was awarded.

The young cowboy ” who just seven months ago in Oregon had a bull punish him with a ruptured spleen, facial fractures, concussion, broken rib, and torn ear ” hobbled to his feet, shook the cobwebs away and spent the next tension-filled minutes preparing himself for another chance at the NWSS title.

“When I came off (the first ride), I kind of landed flat on my back and it kind of knocked the air out of me,” described Asay after the competition. “Last year I came into the (NWSS) short round winning the average, and I had to get on a re-ride in the short round and I hustled and the bull bucked me off. So I really tried to slow down and let God tell me, ‘It’s all right. You’re okay,'” he said with conviction.

Asay must have listened, because the gate swung wide to a rip-roaring score of 89 and the bull riding title by a whopping 12-point margin. If you could hear anything over the noise enveloping the Denver Coliseum, you weren’t in the building.

“To win the NWSS is really cool,” said a happy Asay immediately after his second ride, sweat still evident on his face from the dual effort. “This is my circuit. It’s not really a hometown rodeo, but it’s close enough to being a hometown rodeo. Praise God for everything,” he added with a smile. “Praise God for our safety and that we’re all able to be walking and do it again another day.”

“What a great way to end the rodeo,” stated Pat Grant, NWSS President. “We could not have scripted it better. We had all the world champion cowboys, we had the best stock, it was exciting, it was electric, and to end on the high note we ended, with Kanin Asay’s re-ride, you can’t script that,” he said with satisfaction. “A standing ovation ” 89 point ride. That was just outstanding.”

The reason you can’t script something like the 2009 NWSS rodeo final is because fairy tales are bigger than scripts, and cowboy fairy tales are bigger yet.

It started out normal enough, with upbeat music getting the large crowd warmed up before the National Western Stock Show’s (NWSS) rodeo final on a cold Sunday afternoon in Denver. Only the veteran rodeo announcer, Boyd Polhamus, seemed to have an inkling of the magic in store for the jam-packed crowd.

“I’m excited as a rodeo fan,” said Polhamus beforehand about the day’s card of competitors and roughstock. “I’m excited about the lineup. It looks a lot like Las Vegas. I think almost every event we either have a world champion or we have someone that has been in the NFR several times. So, when you look at the lineup of the horses and the bulls and the cowboys we have, it’s a pretty exciting day.”

It was exciting, all right, and it showed from the get-go.

The Bareback event came out swinging, with Kessler Rodeo’s Cool Alley showing the crowd (and Oregon cowboy Tyson Thompson) why she is one of the best bucking broncs in the business. Once Thompson hit the dirt in defeat, the rest of the cowboys got the message and 80 plus scores proceeded to flow like water ” much to the delight of the screaming crowd. Things got real interesting when Dustin Reeves (South Dakota) notched an 87 with three riders remaining. After two more successful rides were in the books, local favorite Tim Shirley (Conifer, Colorado), the last remaining cowboy, needed 82 points to tie and 83 for the win. Aboard Kessler Rodeo’s Silver Moon, Shirley let it all hang out with a gutsy ride for 82 points and a tie with Reeves for the NWSS Bareback title.

Picking up the title and a check for $6,335, however, wasn’t even the highlight of Shirley’s weekend.

“I just got married yesterday, so we’re on our honeymoon and came here,” revealed a grinning Shirley immediately after the buckle presentation. “It’s awesome. This weekend couldn’t get any better. I could not ask for anything better than what’s happened.”

The double-whammy excitement of his wedding and winning the venue he prowled during his childhood and teenage years could not be contained.

“I don’t even know how to say how happy I am,” he added with more smiles and laughter. “(Winning the NWSS) is something I’ve always wanted to do ” I grew up with this and we’d come down here every year, so I don’t even know how to say it. It’s awesome.”

The rest of the rodeo was awesome, as well. Straight from the Bareback tie, the crowd was in for another treat with the Steer Wrestlers. Although big Jake Rinehart of South Dakota held a half-second lead coming into the final, his fellow competitors weren’t ready to surrender. Colorado cowboy, Ken Lewis, thrilled the fans with a 4.0 second run early in the event, but he wasn’t the only one gunning for the lead. Canadian Curtis Cassidy (Alberta) nailed down a 4.4 to pull in front and force Rinehart to wrestle a 4.9 for a tie and 4.8 or better to win. Rinehart responded with a ” you guessed it ” 4.9. That made two events down and two ties for the excited crowd.

“It’s outstanding,” said Cassidy of claiming a tie for first place. “They put on a (heck) of rodeo here. It’s always great to come back here every year and compete and try to win some money. Of course, when you win, it makes it even better,” he finished with a laugh.

“Denver’s got a great crowd,” agreed Rinehart with a smile. “It’s a pretty good place to win it.”

Asked if he saw a tie coming, Rinehart lit up another smile before answering. “I don’t know what to expect on a day like this,” he said about the high-octane finale and the white-knuckle finishes. “You just hope for the best.”

The jam-packed Coliseum wasn’t only hoping for the best, they were getting it. The Texas duo of Chad Masters and Michael Jones earned the Team Roping title as they blistered the field by more than a second with a 4.4 effort, allowing them to come from the middle of the pack to take top honors in both the championship round and overall at the NWSS. Then the Saddle Bronc cowboys revved it up yet another notch.

Mountain States Circuit young gun, Seth Glause (Wyoming) held a slim lead coming into the championship round, and the crowd was behind him all the way. But when Texan Bradley Harter sizzled the sand with 88 points aboard Burch Rodeo’s Mullen Hill, the task proved daunting. Needing 86 points for the win, Glause rode hard to earn 83 and overall runner-up. The win was Harter’s second in three years at the NWSS, pretty good considering he was unsure about even attending the rodeo after taking a look at his draw the week before.

“I had two colts that I didn’t know anything about, so I was a little nervous to come,” began Hart on the topic. “My wife, she was real positive, so I came up here and they were outstanding and I couldn’t have picked a better one today. I had the best horse out today and I just thank God that it worked out the way it did.”

Questioned about his thoughts during the final ride, the humble cowboy laughed as he answered.

“You know, I think I have the best job in the world,” he said with genuine enthusiasm. “I get to get on one of the best bucking horses in one of the best rodeos. It makes you real thankful for the job we have. This is a great rodeo and a great crowd,” he added. “I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

With tension and excitement mounting during each event, the spectators couldn’t ask for anything better, but they were still getting it. Colorado cowboy Josh Peek was ahead in the Tie Down Roping standings, and everyone in attendance wanted to see him take the buckle home. Problem was, he was going up against cowboys named Tuf Cooper, Clint Robinson and Fred Whitfield.

With Cooper, Robinson, and Whitfield lassoing times from 8.2-8.7 seconds, it was up to Peek as the last competitor to beat 10.1 seconds and take the home state title for himself. Deciding not to play it safe, Peek scorched an 8.6 and sent the crowd into a frenzy.

“I wanted to make a statement in Denver,” said Peek afterward, revealing he dedicated the win to his injured grandmother in the hospital. “I wanted to come in the first of the year and let them know, even though last year was tough (with a disappointing NFR performance), I’m still here. I wanted to rope to the best of my ability and I wanted to win it outright. I didn’t want to win it with a 10 flat and win it. I wanted to win it all the way across the board,” continued the faith-filled cowboy. “It really felt good to be strong and confident and rope tough.”

Asked how it felt to win not only the Tie Down buckle, but the All-Around buckle at his home state NWSS rodeo, Peek had a ready answer.

“It was awesome, really, because I’ve always struggled at Denver in the past,” he said about the historic venue. “I’ve always struggled with injuries going into the first of the year, so it’s made it pretty hard to compete. To come out of there with the All-Around and with the Tie Down Roping titles meant a lot just because it’s my hometown crowd.”

A reasonable person would assume the voices of eight thousand fans would be spent by the time Peek’s accomplishments were finished, but reasonable people don’t brave winter elements to absorb the thrills, chills, and spills of championship rodeo. Every one of those voices shouted loud while Utah cowgirl Nancy Hunter sped to the fastest time in the final round (15.36 seconds), earning first place overall and almost $6,000 in the Barrel Racing event.

Then came the bull riders.

Although young Wyoming cowboy Kanin Asay held a commanding 13 point lead coming into the championship round (courtesy of a holy-cow score of 93 aboard the “unrideable” Lucky Strike), nobody concedes nothing in a final round … especially the bulls. A cowboy still needs to stay aboard a beast with bad intentions for eight long seconds ­” except for Asay, who is making of habit of needing at least 13 or 14 seconds at every NWSS.

Before Asay rode last, high scores flashed on the Coliseum’s big screen like lightning, electrifying everyone in the place as Clayton Savage earned 90 and Corey Navarre put up 81 to make the whole thing a lot more interesting. When Asay finally strapped in, it was hard to hear yourself think. The crowd cheered as the gate opened and Asay rode into the ring. He tried to stay aboard but couldn’t tame the beast. In less then eight seconds, he fell on his back and had the wind and his title hopes knocked completely from his chest.

That was, until the announcer let everyone know a re-ride option was awarded.

The young cowboy ” who just seven months ago in Oregon had a bull punish him with a ruptured spleen, facial fractures, concussion, broken rib, and torn ear ” hobbled to his feet, shook the cobwebs away and spent the next tension-filled minutes preparing himself for another chance at the NWSS title.

“When I came off (the first ride), I kind of landed flat on my back and it kind of knocked the air out of me,” described Asay after the competition. “Last year I came into the (NWSS) short round winning the average, and I had to get on a re-ride in the short round and I hustled and the bull bucked me off. So I really tried to slow down and let God tell me, ‘It’s all right. You’re okay,'” he said with conviction.

Asay must have listened, because the gate swung wide to a rip-roaring score of 89 and the bull riding title by a whopping 12-point margin. If you could hear anything over the noise enveloping the Denver Coliseum, you weren’t in the building.

“To win the NWSS is really cool,” said a happy Asay immediately after his second ride, sweat still evident on his face from the dual effort. “This is my circuit. It’s not really a hometown rodeo, but it’s close enough to being a hometown rodeo. Praise God for everything,” he added with a smile. “Praise God for our safety and that we’re all able to be walking and do it again another day.”

“What a great way to end the rodeo,” stated Pat Grant, NWSS President. “We could not have scripted it better. We had all the world champion cowboys, we had the best stock, it was exciting, it was electric, and to end on the high note we ended, with Kanin Asay’s re-ride, you can’t script that,” he said with satisfaction. “A standing ovation ” 89 point ride. That was just outstanding.”

The reason you can’t script something like the 2009 NWSS rodeo final is because fairy tales are bigger than scripts, and cowboy fairy tales are bigger yet.


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