110 doggers compete in Christopherson memorial event
The new Killdeer Rodeo Arena underwent a baptism of fire June 8-9, and the ground is probably still smoking.
Canadian Stephen Culling won the first round of the inaugural Bob Chistopherson Memorial bulldogging and eventually claimed the average title with 17.2 on four steers.
The honor of winning the Bob Christopherson Memorial plus big payoff and PRCA sanctioning spurred bulldoggers to superlative performances, with the first and third rounds being won in 3.7 seconds (including a 4-way tie in the third!); and the second and fourth rounds being won in 3.5 seconds. Stephen Culling, a fishing/hunting enthusiast from Fort St. John, BC, Canada jumped right out to capture that first round, holding on to claim the buckle and saddle for the average win with a hasty 17.2 total on four steers.
Provost, Alberta, Canada is the home of 28-year old Scott Guenther who threw his second steer in 3.5 to win that round.
Culling said he rode “Ditto,” a mare he’s ridden all winter who belongs to his friend Clayton Moore. Tanner Milan hazed for Culling.
The steers worked to his advantage, Culling added. “Brian Anderson at Copper Srpings put together an awesome set of steers for the event.”
The volunteers were critical to the success of the unique event, and the format was a big draw. “It gave guys five different changes to win a check. We don’t get to go many places with opportunity like that. We will for sure be back next year and will bring more guys from Canada,” he said.
Hilo, Hawaii’s 30-year-old Cody Cabral also clocked a 3.5, claiming the most cash from round 4. Third round split-winners clocking 3.7 on their steers included Tyler Pearson of Louisville, Mississippi; Jacob Edler, Kodie Jang and Brendan Laye.
In view of event results Anton Helfrich noted, “Mexican cattle branded ‘M’ are used for steer wrestling in the majority of PRCA rodeos in the states. Our state has regulations, though, so we have to also use domestic or longhorn cattle. The Canadian cowboys shone with those cattle, garnering 3 out of the top 4 places in the average!”
During this “first” in the world of rodeo 110 world-class bulldoggers hustled the barrier and each made flying leaps at four of those bovines.
During two lengthy performances of the first bulldogging jackpot ever approved by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) hands from across the US (including Hawaii) and Canada vied for $30,000 added money, a championship saddle and buckle, plus bragging rights from the first.
Offering a four-head average, the event saw each contestant running two steers a day.
Ranch and rodeo folk have been known to measure a man by the number of people at his funeral…a tradition as trustworthy as measuring a horse in hands. A trendsetting, international memorial event produced in a man’s name less than a year after his passing speaks even louder – as does this event in Bob Christopherson’s honor. The immensely popular bulldogging icon, who established a rare legacy of steer wrestling superlatives, rode over the Great Divide June 24, 2018. More than 500 attended his funeral.
Born the the son of Iowa bulldogger John Christopherson, Bob accomplished unequaled feats in his chosen sport. Coached by his dad, he jumped his first steer from the back of a Welsh pony in a youth bulldogging at the age of 9, initiating a seven- decade-spanning career before retiring in 2010. Moving into high school rodeo Bob worked calf roping, bareback and bull riding along with the dogging. He was the only person in Iowa High School Rodeo history to claim the steer wrestling state championship twice – 1966 and 1969 – the National championship in 1966, 1968 and 1969, runner-up in 1967; along with placing in calf roping and bull riding to capture state All Around Championships in 1966 and 1969. He’s also probably the only bulldogger to compete in each of seven decades; or to compete in steer wrestling against three generations of some families from his peer group.
Bob’s widow Eunice Christopherson said the day before the Memorial, “I am really overwhelmed and impressed with this event, and all those putting it on. I don’t think there’s any better way they could have honored Bob. The way they’ve designed it, I know it is an event he would have loved, and excelled in.”
“I can’t believe the generosity of the people behind this and I hope it is very successful and enjoyed by everyone,” Eunice added.
Kaye Nelson of Grassy Butte – North Dakota’s “First Lady” of rodeo as Miss Rodeo North Dakota 1957, rodeo secretary and wife of the late 1957 World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider Alvin Nelson – will be inducted into the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame next weekend. She is proud of her community, and, looking forward to the event, said, “Killdeer has tremendous Western spirit and there are a lot of people there with a ‘Go get ‘em attitude’. This is all brand new, and they are going to make it really great!”
Anton Helfrich, owner of AH inc at Killdeer, headed up the event, saying he took a page from some rodeo-related thoughts Bob Christopherson had discussed with him before his passing. “Bob once suggested we hold an event to qualify for The American. Remembering that gave me the idea to get the PRCA to sanction this,” Anton said. “There was no better way to celebrate and recognize Bob than to have his Memorial the first ever steer wrestling jackpot counted toward the PRCA championship; and along with Eunice and Rusty we got it sanctioned.”
PRCA Steer Wrestling event director Matt Reeves worked closely with Helfrich to plan this premiere. “We had to get our format right. It had to parallel all PRCA regulations for a fair steer wrestling. It ended up ranked 44 out of the top 50 steer wrestling events in the world.” he says.
Helfrich is grateful for the sponsorship of local businesses to add the purse, trophy buckle and saddle. “Hanson Quarter Horses were a Platinum Sponsor,” Anton added, “covering additional $2,500 bonuses we paid round winners, to assist with travel expenses. Those dollars didn’t count toward the world standings, but rounds paying north of $5,200 to the winners added greater appeal to travel here.”
Hanson Quarter Horses’ sponsorship was especially fitting. Ann Secrest Hanson, longtime rodeo “pickup man” and honoree to the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame says she “always wanted to be a bulldogger. But when she tried to learn, in youth rodeo schools, the steers always outran her horses.”
The four major sponsors for the $30,000 purse are from Killdeer — JD Fencing, LLC, SM Fencing, Wildfire Oil Field Services owned by area ranchers Wiley and Vickie Bice, and AH inc, who also sponsored the championship saddle. Eunice Christopherson and the Christoperson family donated the buckle. Knives for the fast time of the event were presented to both steer wrestler and hazer, courtesy of Eva and Jeff Harper, and yet more great sponsors provided a nice hospitality welcome for cowboys and their families, serving smoked meat and beer the first evening.
“I grew up with these sponsors,” Helfrich said, “graduated with them. While we were growing up Bob helped us all learn more about steer wrestling. He was a great teacher of the event, and also made sure we had horses to ride to get started, mounting us at a lot of different rodeos.”
“We are happy and amazed that our entry list includes 31 NFR qualifiers, 11 World Champions, 44 out of the top 60 in the world. And it’s all happened just by word-of-mouth since we decided to do this,” Anton said. “There’s not a better way to honor Bob and his legacy.”
Announcer Jim Thompson and photorgapher Jackie Jensen was there from Lewistown, Montana both helped make the event successful.
Bob Christophersen Memorial Steer Wrestling
Killdeer, N.D., June 8-9 — 110 cowboys, 4 runs each.
Steer wrestling: First round: 1. Stephen Culling, 3.7 seconds, $2,681; 2. (tie) Richard Coats and Cody Devers, 4.1, $2,156 each; 4. Tyler Thorson, 4.2, $1,632; 5. (tie) Tanner Milan and Jake Kraupie, 4.3, $1,107 each; 7. Harley Cole, 4.4, $583; 8. (tie) Matt Reeves, Dakota Eldridge and Brendan Laye, 4.6, $78 each. Second round: 1. Scott Guenthner, 3.5 seconds, $2,681; 2. (tie) Dirk Tavenner, Cody Harmon, Bridger Chambers, Craig Weisgerber and Blake Mindemann, 4.0, $1,632 each; 7. Dakota Eldridge, 4.2, $583; 8. (tie) Brendan Laye, Justin Shaffer and Kody Dollery, 4.3, $78 each. Third round: 1. (tie) Jacob Edler, Tyler Pearson, Kodie Jang and Brendan Laye, 3.7 seconds, $2,156 each; 5. (tie) Curtis Cassidy and Blake Knowles, 3.9, $1,107 each; 7. Stetson Jorgensen, 4.0, $583; 8. Stan Branco, 4.1, $233. Fourth round: 1. Cody Cabral, 3.5 seconds, $2,681; 2. Cameron Morman, 3.6, $2,331; 3. Hunter Cure, 3.7, $1,982; 4. (tie) Juan Alcazar Jr, Sam Olson and Trell Etbauer, 3.9, $1,282 each; 7. Cade Goodman, 4.0, $583; 8. (tie) Kodie Jang, Trever Nelson and Ace Campbell, 4.2, $78 each. Average: 1. Stephen Culling, 17.2 seconds on four head, $5,362; 2. Cody Devers, 18.2, $4,662; 3. Brendan Laye, 18.6, $3,963; 4. Scott Guenthner, 18.8, $3,264; 5. Nick Guy, 19.9, $2,564; 6. Blake Mindemann, 20.9, $1,865; 7. Sam Goings, 21.3, $1,166; 8. Cameron Morman, 21.4, $466.
Total payoff: $69,936. F