Champions Crowned at 125th Cheyenne Frontier Days: SD, MT, Iowa all take top honors
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Aug. 1, 2021) – Saddle bronc riding at the 125th Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo went the Wright way.
After two decades of coming up short in the event, professional rodeo’s most decorated saddle bronc family finally earned the top spot at the “Daddy of ’em All” as Milford, Utah cowboy Stetson Wright posted a 90-point ride on the back of Championship Pro Rodeo’s Feather Fluffer to secure the title during Sunday’s Championship Finals.
Beginning with Cody in the late 90s, eight different members of the Wright family have competed in saddle bronc at CFD throughout the years, each coming up short of bringing home the buckle. Following his ride and the score announcement, Wright sprinted to the chute he’d just come out of and scaled the fence to hug and high-five family members in celebration of the moment.
“They make rodeo worth it really. Winning is always good, but when you’ve got three or four guys in your family wanting to win just as bad as you do, it just makes it better,” Wright said. He held off his brother, Ryder, who went for 88.5 points in the event. “I guess if I wouldn’t have broken (the streak) Ryder would have, but it feels pretty dang good.”
The saddle bronc win helped Wright secure his second straight all-around title. In 2019, he won the honor after picking up a championship buckle in bull riding, marking the first time a member of the Wright family had won any event at CFD. During Sunday’s Championship Final, Wright placed third in the bull riding. It’s the 10th time in CFD history a cowboy has won the all-around title in back-to-back years. Wright is the first rough stock competitor to win back-to-back all-around titles since Jim Shoulders in 1963-64.
Wright’s family streak buster wasn’t the only bit of history made during the Championship Final, as Twin Bridges, Montana steer wrestler Newt Novich won the event by tying the arena record at 5.1 seconds. The previous mark was established in 2004 by Rick Myhre when the event had a 30-foot head start instead of the current 20. His time turned out to be crucial as two other cowboys finished in under six seconds.
“It didn’t hit me right away, but when I got over (to the award presentation) they told me I had tied the arena record. Let alone to win this, but to tie the arena record, that’s just icing on the cake right there,” Novich said.
In bareback riding, the race proved to be extremely tight as all 13 competitors who climbed on recorded rides of 80 points or higher. But it was current Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) bareback leader Tim O’Connell (Zwingle, Iowa) who came out on top, going for 89 points on Sankey Pro Rodeo’s MLW’s Irish Eyes. It is O’Connell’s second CFD title as he previously won in 2017.
For O’Connell, the ride was a huge confidence boost as he continues to battle a broken rib. O’Connell’s wife advised him to take a few days off to rest and heal before Cheyenne. That advice proved to be good as he increased his lead in the world standings.
Tie-down roper Marty Yates continued his recent surge by setting the pace in tie-down roping right out of the gate. The Stephenville, Texas cowboy was the first competitor to go in the event on Sunday, setting the standard at 10.3 seconds. For Yates, it’s his second CFD buckle after earning the title in 2015.
Barrel racer Hailey Kinsel followed up her Quarter Final time of 17.22 with a run of 17.30 to secure the victory. Those turned out to be the fastest times run by any barrel racer throughout the week. This was the three-time world champion’s first CFD victory.
Elsewhere, 19-year-old breakaway roper Sawyer Gilbert (Buffalo, South Dakota) took home a CFD buckle in her first attempt, finishing in 4.4 seconds. The team roping duo of Clay Smith (Broken Bow, Oklahoma) and Jade Corkill (Fallon, Nevada) were one of only five teams to complete a clean run, with their time of 10.2 seconds good enough for the win. This is Corkill’s third buckle from the “Daddy,” having won with different partners in 2009 and 2013. Steer roper Cole Patterson (Pratt, Kansas) was the last cowboy out of Chute 9 in his event. His 12.2 second run got the son of world champion Rocky Patterson the championship, the first for his family. His time was a half second better than the next closest cowboy. Finally, Mackay, Australia bull rider Ky Hamilton made the most of his callback opportunity in Sunday’s Championship Final, riding Stace Smith’s No. 546 to 89 points and the victory.
–Cheyenne Frontier Days
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