Ram Badlands Circuit Finals recap
A lucky few in Minot, N.D., this past weekend have won themselves a trip to Oklahoma City, Okla., next year.
The winning cowboys and cowgirls in each of seven events at the Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo, hosted by the Minot Y’s Men’s Rodeo, will go on to represent North and South Dakota next spring at the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City.
For some cowboys, their ticket was punched well before they came to Minot. For others, it came down to the final performance on Sunday, Oct. 13. Year-end winners – who won the most money throughout the season – and average winners, those who earned the most points or had the fastest times in Minot, will compete at the RNCFR.
Mac Erickson entered the Badlands Circuit Finals with the other bareback riders in his rearview mirror. The Sundance, Wyo., cowboy was more than $4,000 ahead of the number two man, Ty Breuer, and no one could catch him.
For Erickson, his life changed in April. He and his wife had a son, and “my priorities have changed a lot. Whether I win money or not, it doesn’t matter. I go out, have fun, and enjoy myself and life.”
Erickson placed in the first and second rounds of the finals.
The average title went to Joe Gunderson, Agar, S.D., who had 328 points on four head. This is the fourth year Gunderson has won a Badlands Circuit title.
It was Beau Franzen’s second year to compete in the Badlands Circuit, and he made it count.
The Sidney, Mont., man entered the finals in eighth place, and won or tied for first place in three of four go-rounds in Minot to win the average with a total of 14.6 seconds on four head.
He lives in Montana, but chooses the Badlands Circuit because of the proximity of the rodeos, and the circuit finals. Minot “has four go-rounds at the circuit finals, and it made more sense for me to come over here.”
When he’s not on the rodeo trail, he ranches and rides horses. He and his wife have a 2-year-old son, Cye, and a baby due in December.
The year-end titlist was J.B. Lord, Sturgis, S.D. The 53-year-old rodeo veteran was about $5,000 ahead of the number two steer wrestler coming into circuit finals, and he held his lead. Even though he is two decades older than some of his fellow steer wrestlers, it doesn’t make a difference. “I think I am as good as I ever was, when I was 45, to now. The last eight years have been my best years ever. I think life in general gets easier to cope with, the older you get. I just am real thankful and grateful that I’m healthy and young enough to still compete with the younger guys.”
J.B.’s elder son, Eli, also competed at his first Badlands Circuit Finals. Eli is a sophomore at Odessa College in Texas.
Jeff Johnston and Levi Tyan won the team roping year-end title. The Nebraska cowboys won checks in three of four rounds to secure the championship. Jeff, from Thedford, and Levi, from Wallace, choose to rodeo in the Badlands Circuit instead of their home region, the Prairie Circuit, which includes rodeos in Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma, because the Dakota rodeos are closer.
Paul David Tierney, Oral, S.D., and Jared Bilby, another cowboy from Nebraska, won the average title. On four runs, they had a time of 22.2 seconds. Tierney is the son of Paul Tierney, who is a member of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
Saddle bronc riding
There’s a new name atop the scoreboard in the saddle bronc riding.
After four years of having either Cole Elshere or his cousins Ryan Elshere and JJ Elshere win the titles, a new man comes forth.
Ty Thompson won both the year-end and the average title for the first time.
And he displaced his heroes: the Elsheres, who have won the year-end or average title (or both) every year since 2009.
He had a “great finals,” he said. “I drew really good all four days, and just tried to ride every horse the same way, stay consistent, and let the money take care of itself in the end.”
The championships are a good confidence booster for the Wanblee, S.D. man, “especially competing against the Badlands bronc riders. Those guys ride good every day. It’s tough.” And replacing the Elsheres? “It’s kind of nice to beat your heroes out,” he said.
He and his brothers ranch in south central South Dakota. This is his third year to compete at the Badlands Circuit Finals.
Nikki Steffes won the average at the Badlands Circuit Finals by five-hundredths of a second over Britany Fleck.
On Sunday, she went into the last go-round two-tenths of a second ahead of Fleck, and when Fleck competed, was glad she didn’t hear Britany’s time. “Today (Britany) really smoked her run, and if I’d have heard her time, I might have puked.” On her four combined runs, Steffes had a time of 55.27 seconds. Fleck’s time on four was 55.32 seconds.
This is the culmination of a “roller coaster” season in which she rode a new horse she acquired in April. Sky, a 9-year-old gelding, hit a lot of barrels this year, causing five-second penalties and taking Nikki out of winning checks. But, “it couldn’t have ended any better. I’m so excited.” Her goal coming into the circuit finals was to not hit any barrels, and she succeeded.
Nikki had ridden Sky for Bill and Deb Myers when he was a 4-year-old stud, and the horse had won about $50,000 at futurities. He was meant to stand at stud, but when it was discovered he was infertile, he was gelded and she had the chance to buy him. “He’s so easy-going,” she said. “Nothing really bothers him. He doesn’t get upset, he really tries hard, and he’s a really special horse.”
Nikki, a graduate of the University of Wyoming, was accepted into dental school at the University of Nebraska two years ago. She is forgoing school to continue her dream of barrel racing. She qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo last year, and her “ultimate goal” is to get back there again. Dental school is on hold. “I didn’t feel like I’d be satisfied with dental school till I’d done that. I love rodeo and I didn’t feel like I’ve accomplished everything I want to.”
Lisa Lockhart won the year-end award for 2013.
The Oelrichs, S.D., cowgirl hit a barrel in the second round after she lost a stirrup, but won money in the other three rounds to surpass Wanda Brown, who was the leader coming in.
Lockhart’s husband, Grady, also competed in Minot and finished the year fourth in the average in the tie-down roping. Lisa will compete at the Canadian Finals Rodeo in November, and at ProRodeo’s world championship, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, in Las Vegas this December.
Justin Scofield capitalized on his fellow tie-down ropers’ mistakes to earn a double title in Minot.
The Volga, S.D., cowboy earned his fifth Badlands title with a year-end and average championship.
He came into the finals trailing Jason Schaffer by $1,600. Scofield won checks during all four go-rounds, but it came down to Sunday afternoon. When Schaffer was disqualified because his calf came untied, and Boe Brown, who was also in the hunt, broke the barrier, Scofield was left standing with the buckles. “I had a good finals,” Scofield said. “I just stayed consistent, and because of the misfortune of two other guys, I guess I got lucky.”
Scofield is working on the next generation of ropers. He’s secured a horse for his nephews and nieces, and helped his 10-year-old nephew with roping practice. The boy won fifth place in the breakaway roping at the South Dakota State 4-H Finals this summer.
Only two bull riders rode all four of their bulls at the Badlands Circuit Finals, and both came out as champions.
Jeff Bertus, Avon, S.D., finished the year as average winner with a score of 323 points on four bulls. He is in his last year of schooling at Panhandle State University in Goodwell, Okla., and will graduate with a degree in animal science and a minor in agronomy. He was last year’s average champion also.
Taygen Schuelke, in his first year to qualify for the Badlands Circuit Finals, finished with the year-end title. His 2013 rodeo season started out slow, but ended up getting better. “I got a better focus, was having fun, and doing it for the Lord,” he said. The Newell, S.D., cowboy is a student at Sheridan (Wyo.) College and will graduate in May of 2014.
Prior to the rodeo, the 2014 Miss Rodeo North Dakota was crowned. Winning the title was Codi Miller, of Amidon, N.D. She is the former Miss Rodeo Mandan.
The Minot Y’s Men’s Rodeo is a not-for-profit venture by the YMCA Men of Minot, N.D. Proceeds from each year’s rodeo benefit the Triangle Y Camp at Lake Sakakawea, near Garrison, N.D. Next year’s Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo will be October 9-12, 2014. Visit Minot and 4- Bears Casino & Lodge are proud sponsors of the Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo. F
Paul David Tierney, $6,078, team roping and tie-down roping.
First round: 1. Jet Price, 85 points on Korkow Rodeos’ Inky, $1,105; 2. Joe Gunderson, 82, $829; 3. (tie) Mac Erickson and Sam Nordick, 81, $414 each.
Second round: 1. Ty Breuer, 86 points on Korkow Rodeos’ Bambino Vold, $1,105; 2. Joe Gunderson, 85, $829; 3. Mac Erickson, 81, $553; 4. Rollie Wilson, 80, $276.
Third round: 1. Jet Price, 84 points on Korkow Rodeos’ Flaxy Lady, $1,105; 2. Casey Breuer, 83, $829; 3. John Addison, 82, $553; 4. Sam Nordick, 80, $276.
Fourth round: 1. Sam Nordick, 84 points on Korkow Rodeos’ Joker Poker, $1,105; 2. Joe Gunderson, 83, $829; 3. Ty Breuer, 81, $553; 4. (tie) Casey Breuer and John Addison, 79, $138 each.
Average: 1. Joe Gunderson, 328 points on four head, $2,210; 2. Ty Breuer, 326, $1,658; 3. Casey Breuer, 321, $1,105; 4. Mac Erickson, 317, $553.
First round: 1. Jeff Johnston, 3.3 seconds, $1,105; 2. (tie) Seth Jack Murphy and Jim Roedeske, 3.8, $691 each; 4. J.B. Lord, 4.1, $276.
Second round: 1. Beau Franzen, 3.2 seconds, $1,105; 2. Del Kraupie, 3.9, $829; 3. Linn Churchill, 4.3, $553; 4. Seth Jack Murphy, 7.6, $276.
Third round: 1. (tie) Evan Entze and Beau Franzen, 3.8 seconds, $967 each; 3. Jim Roedeske, 4.1, $553; 4. Jeff Johnston, 4.2, $276.
Fourth round: 1. (tie) Jim Roedeske and Beau Franzen, 3.3 seconds, $967 each; 3. Seth Jack Murphy, 3.7, $553; 4. Del Kraupie, 4.1, $276.
Average: 1. Beau Franzen, 14.6 seconds on four head, $2,210; 2. Jim Roedeske, 23.8, $1,658; 3. Jeff Johnston, 11.8 on three head, $1,105; 4. Del Ray Kraupie, 12.5, $553.
First round: 1. Preston Billadeau/Levi O’Keeffe, 5.2 seconds, $1,105 each; 2. Paul David Tierney/Jared Bilby, 5.5, $829; 3. Tyrell Moody/Sloan Hendley, 5.7, $553; 4. (tie) Tucker McDaniel/Tel Schaack and J.B. Lord/Jesse Fredrickson, 6.0, $138 each.
Second round: 1. J.B. Lord/Jesse Fredrickson, 5.1 seconds, $1,105 each; 2. Jeff Johnston/Levi Tyan, 5.4, $829; 3. Turner Harris/Ross Carson, 5.9, $553; 4. Paul David Tierney/Jared Bilby, 6.1, $276.
Third round: 1. Preston Billadeau/Levi O’Keeffe, 4.8 seconds, $1,105 each; 2. Paul David Tierney/Jared Bilby, 5.0, $829; 3. Turner Harris/Ross Carson, 6.2, $553; 4. Jeff Johnston/Levi Tyan, 11.6, $276.
Fourth round: 1. Eli Lord/Jade Nelson, 4.3 seconds, $1,105 each; 2. Paul David Tierney/Jared Bilby, 5.6, $829; 3. J.B. Lord/Jesse Fredrickson, 5.8, $553; 4. Jeff Johnston/Levi Tyan, 6.2, $276.
Average: 1. Paul David Tierney/Jared Bilby, 22.2 seconds on four head, $2,210 each; 2. (tie) Jeff Johnston/Levi Tyan and Turner Harris /Ross Carson, 29.9, $1,381 each; 4. J.B. Lord/Jesse Fredrickson, 16.9 on three head, $553.
Saddle bronc riding
First round: 1. Ty Thompson, 87 points on Sutton Rodeos’ Chuckulator, $1,105; 2. Cole Elshere, 84, $829; 3. (tie) Jeremy Meeks and J.J. Elshere, 82, $414 each. Second round: 1. Cole Elshere, 84 points on Korkow Rodeos’ Baldie, $1,105; 2. Ryan Elshere, 80, $829; 3. Ty Thompson, 79, $553; 4. J.J. Elshere, 76, $276.
Third round: 1. Jeremy Means, 82 points on Korkow Rodeos’ Anita, $1,105; 2. Jesse Bail, 81, $829; 3. Ryan Elshere, 79, $553; 4. (tie) Jeremy Meeks and Cole Elshere, 76, $138 each.
Fourth round: 1. Troy Crowser, 82 points on Korkow Rodeos’ Fraid Knot, $1,105; 2. Ty Thompson, 81, $829; 3. (tie) Chet Smith and J.J. Elshere, 78, $414 each.
Average: 1. Ty Thompson, 314 points on four head, $2,210; 2. Jesse Bail, 305, $1,658; 3. Cole Elshere, 244 on three head, $1,105; 4. J.J. Elshere, 236, $553.
First round: 1. Jason Schaffer, 8.2 seconds, $1,105; 2. Justin Scofield, 8.5, $829; 3. Boe Brown, 9.9, $553; 4. Grady Lockhart, 11.2, $276.
Second round: 1. Paul David Tierney, 8.5 seconds, $1,105; 2. Boe Brown, 8.7, $829; 3. Jason Schaffer, 10.0, $553; 4. Justin Scofield, 10.2, $276.
Third round: 1. Riley Pruitt, 6.9 seconds, $1,105; 2. Clint Kindred, 8.7, $829; 3. Boe Brown, 8.9, $553; 4. Justin Scofield, 9.5, $276.
Fourth round: 1. Josh Graff, 8.6 seconds, $1,105; 2. Justin Scofield, 9.2, $829; 3. Riley Pruitt, 11.2, $553; 4. Tyler Thiel, 12.7, $276.
Average: 1. Justin Scofield, 37.4 seconds on four head, $2,210; 2. Boe Brown, 44.9, $1,658; 3. Joe Schmidt, 63.7, $1,105; 4. Grady Lockhart, 66.9, $553.
First round: 1. Britany Fleck, 13.80 seconds, $1,105; 2. Nikki Steffes, 13.94, $829; 3. Lisa Lockhart, 14.00, $553; 4. Jessica Routier, 14.04, $276.
Second round: 1. Desirae Weigel, 13.52 seconds, $1,105; 2. Nikki Steffes, 13.69, $829; 3. Wanda Brown, 13.76, $553; 4. Jill Moody, 13.91, $276.
Third round: 1. Lisa Lockhart, 13.69 seconds, $1,105; 2. Desirae Weigel, 13.71, $829; 3. Nikki Steffes, 13.89, $553; 4. Britany Fleck, 13.91, $276.
Fourth round: 1. Britta O’Keeffe, 13.41 seconds, $1,105; 2. Lisa Lockhart, 13.47, $829; 3. Britany Fleck, 13.59, $553; 4. Jill Moody, 13.63, $276.
Average: 1. Nikki Steffes, 55.27 seconds on four runs, $2,210; 2. Britany Fleck, 55.32, $1,658; 3. Jill Moody, 55.73, $1,105; 4. Jessica Routier, 56.12, $553.
First round: 1. Jayden Hansen, 82 points on Mosbrucker Rodeos’ Salty Bob, $1,105; 2. Stetson Lawrence, 81, $829; 3. (tie) Taygen Schuelke and Jeff Bertus, 76, $414 each.
Second round: 1. Jeff Bertus, 82 points on Sutton Rodeos’ Crystal Springs Peach, $1,105; 2. Taygen Schuelke, 79, $829; 3. Tate Smith, 70, $553; no other qualified rides.
Third round: 1. Stetson Lawrence, 88 points on Sutton Rodeos’ Johnny Ringo, $1,105; 2. (tie) Jeff Bertus and Taygen Schuelke, 83, $691 each; 4. Jayden Hansen, 80, $276.
Fourth round: 1. Jayden Hansen, 85 points on Mosbrucker Rodeos’ Hard Times, $1,105; 2. (tie) Stetson Lawrence and Jeff Bertus, 82, $691 each; 4. Taygen Schuelke, 80, $276.
Average: 1. Jeff Bertus, 323 points on four head, $2,210; 2. Taygen Schuelke, 318, $1,658; 3. Stetson Lawrence, 251 on three head, $1,105; 4. Jayden Hansen, 247, $553.
Total payoff: $132,605.
Stock contractor: Korkow Rodeos, Mosbrucker Rodeos and Sutton Rodeos.
Rodeo secretary: Jackie Higlin.
Officials: Jim Whiting, Harry Rose and Mike Steiger.
Timers: Kim Sutton and Amy Sutton Muller.
Announcer: Bob Tallman.
Specialty acts: Roz Beaton and J.J. Harrison.
Bullfighters: Josh Rivinius and Cooper Waln.
Clown/barrelman: J.J. Harrison.
Flankman: Steve Sutton, T.J. Korkow and Wally Mosbrucker.
Pickup men: Tyler Robertson and Brent Sutton.
Photographer: Peggy Gander.