News & Notes from the rodeo trail
The 2015 class of the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame was inducted April 11 in Fort Worth. The inductees in the contestants’ category included ProRodeo Hall of Famer Bud Munroe (1986 saddle bronc riding world champion), Kevin Stewart (11-time WNFR team roper), Dan Webb (eight-time WNFR tie-down roper), James Zant (four-time WNFR tie-down roper), Monk Dishman (three-time WNFR bareback rider), John Gloor Jr. (two-time WNFR bull rider) and Gene Lyda (WNFR bull rider). Larry Mahan, eight-time PRCA world champion, received the Director’s Choice Award. Tom Feller, who was PRCA Chairman of the Board in 2006 and is currently Director of Event Marketing for Justin Boots, received the Western Heritage Award. The Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo was inducted in the rodeo category.
Wrangler National Finals Rodeo team roping heeler York Gill and his girlfriend, Christy Stransky, are recovering from injuries they suffered after their plane crashed on U.S. Hwy. 67 March 27 in Stephenville, Texas. On April 8, Gill, 33, confirmed to the ProRodeo Sports News that he has suffered a broken neck – C6 and C7 vertebrae – and has also broken the first thoracic vertebrae (T1) in the upper part of his back. In addition, Gill suffered four broken ribs, a broken right clavicle and a partially collapsed lung. According to Gill, Stransky, 30, suffered a broken right arm and had surgery April 7 to repair a broken right orbital bone. “We are very, very fortunate,” Gill said. “The fear any pilot has during an emergency landing is that the plane will catch on fire. It is an act of God that we didn’t burn to death. There must be a reason why we are still here, and we are just so thrilled with the outcome.”.
Wyatt Johnson, a junior at Payson (Utah) High School who won the state bareback riding championship last year, has been honored as April’s Sports Illustrated High School Athlete of the Month, presented by the U.S. Marine Corps. Johnson, 5-3, 130 pounds, won five of the last six regular-season rodeos to qualify for the state finals where he won the bareback riding title and finished eighth in the bull riding. He will formally receive the SI award from four-time World Champion Bareback Rider Kaycee Feild – who grew up in Elk Ridge – in a presentation ceremony April 24 at the Spanish Fork (Utah) Fairgrounds.
PRCA Gold Card member Allan H. Johnson, a timed-event cowboy, horse trainer and patriarch of a three-generation rodeo family, died April 6 at his home in Calhan, Colo. He was 83. The Johnson Ranch was homesteaded on Colorado’s high plains by Johnson’s grandfather, J.D., and has been the family home for five generations. Allan Johnson was followed into the arena by his sons, Doug and Lane, both of whom qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo multiple times while attending the University of Southern Colorado (now CSU-Pueblo) and won Mountain States Circuit year-end titles in tie-down roping. Grandson Darnell Johnson is a current competitor in the Mountain States Circuit, also as a tie-down roper. A memorial service is scheduled for 3 p.m. April 15 at the Latigo Equestrian Center, 13710 Halleluiah Trail, Elbert, Colo. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund, 101 Pro Rodeo Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80919.
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Gerald Thomas (Hoover) Hays, a PRCA steer wrestler, passed away Feb. 4. He was 58. Hays was born on Feb. 12, 1956, in West Palm Beach, Fla., and moved to Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, in 1977, with stops along the way in California, Montana, and Golden, British Columbia. After a short-lived career as a bucking horse rider, Hays became a steer wrestler, and qualified for the Canadian Finals Rodeo. He also made appearances at the Calgary Stampede, and every other major rodeo in North America. He won $142,211 as a steer wrestler in the PRCA.
The New York Times did a short documentary film on Gary Leffew, the 1970 bull riding world champion. The 8-minute, 22-second film can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/08/opinion/the-bull-rider.html?_r=1.
The 2015 San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo set an overall attendance record with nearly 1.65 million fans over an 18-day period. The turnout was boosted by eight days of record-breaking turnstile counts. Seventeen of the 21 rodeo and concert performances sold out, and the event set a record in cumulative ticket sales. In addition, the Junior Livestock Auction set a record, generating bids in excess of $6.1 million. More than $1.7 million in scholarships were awarded to Livestock Show winners at the 2015 Stock Show & Rodeo.
Rodeo Austin had a $77-million impact on the local economy in 2014, up from $68.8 million in 2011 and $54.6 million in 2008, according to a study commissioned by rodeo officials. The rodeo supports 974 jobs in the region and generated $1.9 million in sales and hotel taxes for the city of Austin and Travis County, according to the report. Austin-based economic consulting firm TXP conducted the study, which was paid for by rodeo officials. The March 14-28, 2014 event at the Travis County Expo Center experienced an attendance bump of about two percent, according to Rodeo Austin CEO Bucky Lamb, with more than 250,000 spectators and 8,000 exhibitors. An economic-impact study for the 2015 event has not yet been conducted. “It was a great year for us,” Lamb said. “We’ve been tracking economic impact for 15 years and we continue to see the numbers grow.”.
Five-time World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider Billy Etbauer was one of 20 people inducted into the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame on April 11 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center, alongside three-time Olympic track and field athlete Cindy Greiner and two-time world lightweight boxing champion Battling Nelson.
The 6th annual Jesse Andrus & Mike Hillman Memorial Pro Rodeo will be held May 15-16 in Roswell, N.M. This is the first year the memorial event will be a sanctioned PRCA rodeo. Andrus and Hillman were seniors at Goddard High School when they both died of carbon monoxide poisoning on their way back from a ProRodeo in Cave Creek, Ariz., in April of 2010. Proceeds from this event this year will go to Court Appointed Special Advocates of Roswell in the memory of Andrus and Hillman. Frontier Rodeo Company will be the stock contractor for the rodeo. A contestant VIP and hospitality tent with food and beverage will be available to all contestants. Visit the website at http://www.jesseandmikememorial.com.
Two Fort Hays (Kan.) State University students have been awarded scholarships courtesy of the Phillipsburg Rodeo Association. Simone Dockers of Rose Hill, Kan., and Jacob Willems of Windom, Kan., are the recipients of $500 scholarships for each from Kansas’ Biggest Rodeo.
The Pendleton Round-Up and Happy Canyon Hall of Fame have added three new board members – Steve Campbell, Cydney Curtis and Crystal Patton Doherty. All three are Oregon natives, and have contributed extensively to the Pendleton Round-Up over the years.
Pendleton Whisky distributor Hood River Distillers, Inc. announced a limited-edition bottle that “honors the integrity and patriotism of those who serve, and have served, our country with pride.” A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each Pendleton Whisky limited-edition bottle will be donated to the Wrangler® National Patriot™ program to make a difference in the lives of active military personnel and veterans throughout the country. The Pendleton Whisky 2015 limited-edition bottle will be available at spirits retailers throughout the country beginning May 2015.
The Shreveport-Bossier Mavericks – the American Basketball Association team owned by Frontier Rodeo’s Jerry Nelson – won their second consecutive title, and fourth in the past six years. The team finished the season undefeated, and has now won 92 straight games. The Mavericks defeated the Miami Midnites 116-91 in the April 12 championship game.
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