33rd Don King Days
(Big Horn, Wyoming, Sept. 5-6, 2021) One year after a winter storm pressured Don King
Days committee to stop after the first day of activities, the 2021 Event
was a phenomenal success. Some organizers called it the greatest crowd
ever for polo, bronc riding and the finals for the Wyoming Steer Ropers
In the Steer Roping, 32 ropers qualified for the four-head finals. After
Sunday’s first two rounds, only 8 men had times on 2 steers. Troy Hubbard
led after one day and had placed in each round. But despite his lead he
couldn’t be blamed for looking over his shoulder at the two time
defending champion Will McBride of Nebraska just 1/10th of a second
back in 2nd place. TK Tillard won the first round in 14.9 seconds.
McBride took the 2nd in 13.0 seconds flat. The record is 10.5 seconds
set by Will Yoakum in 2003.
Both days were sunny and hot with temperatures in the 90s prevalent.
The second day was not kind to contenders as 5 of the 8 men who had
times on two head Saturday, took no-time on their third. Chris Glover
moved into contention with a 14.5 second run to win the round. And the
final round was suspenseful with McBride holding a less than 7 second
advantage over Colt Bruegman. Miles Williams was standing by in case
either or both faltered. But in the end only one roper prevailed. Will
McBride was 21.4 to finish with 69.4 on 4 head, the only man to tie all
his steers down. He had a good possibility of beating Glen Barlows’
four- head record of 62.8 set in 1996, but finished in 69.9 seconds
with the win, still the fastest time since Reo Lohse in 2013.
TK Tillard was 2nd with 3 steers caught in 45.4 seconds, “The King of
Colorado” Chris Glover was 3rd in 46.3 and Michael Mader was 48.1 for
4th place in the average. Winning two rounds in 2021 TK Tillard now has
9 go-round victories in his career to tie Mike Lohof for the top spot.
Just four years ago McBride told me that he felt he would become known
as “that good steer roper who never won Don King Days”. Now he basks in
the glory of three in a row.
Barlow, arguably one of the best ropers in Wyoming history, won 5 times
at Don King Days but never back-to-back. Only two other ropers won back
to back titles; Hank Taton in 1994-95 and Gib Bell in 2007-08.
The bronc riding was won by South Dakotan Travis Nelson scoring 167
points on two head to beat five other competitors.
Committee members include Cecile Pattison, Vicki Kane, Micah Olson,
Marc Gilkerson, and Sheila Blackburn.
Jim Thompson was the steer roping announcer for the 29th time. Dalton
Beasley returned to announce the bronc match. Timers were Dee Dee
Dickinson and Tera Anderson. Melanie Jones was secretary. Ted Thompson
was the field flag judge. Dean Finnerty and Irv Bard handled the line.
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