World champions Tierney, Hurley, Burchett and Reeves headline class of nine inductees into ProRodeo Hall of Fame
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Four rodeo contestants with a total of seven world championships and 56 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifications head the 2008 induction class which will enter the ProRodeo Hall of Fame at 10 a.m. July 12 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
All-around cowboy Paul Tierney, of Oral, S.D., team roper Bobby Hurley, of Clarksville, Ark., late steer roper Shaun Burchett, of Pryor, Okla., and saddle bronc rider Tom Reeves, of Ranger, Texas, were all voted in by the ProRodeo Hall of Fame Selection Committee, along with the late Feek Tooke (stock contractor), Trails End (rodeo livestock), specialty act performers Leon and Vicki Adams (contract personnel), Duane Howard (rodeo notable) and the late Buddy Lytle (lifetime achievement).
The voting was completed by the selection committee during a meeting at the Hall of Fame on April 22.
Tierney, 56, was the world champion tie-down roper in 1979 and then put together an even better season in 1980 to end Tom Ferguson’s six-year reign as all-around champion and become the second rodeo cowboy to surpass $100,000 in earnings during a single season. He was second in the tie-down roping standings in 1980 and fourth in steer wrestling to earn $105,568. He was the reserve all-around champion in both 1977 and 1979, finishing second both times to Ferguson, and was fourth in 1981 behind Jimmie Cooper, Roy Cooper and Ferguson. Seven times Tierney rated among the top 10 all-around cowboys before retiring in the late 1980s after suffering a ruptured disc in his back. He had nine NFR tie-down qualifications (1977-82, 1984-86) and five in steer wrestling (1977, 1979-81, 1984).
Hurley’s four-year partnership with Allen Bach produced two world championship gold buckles, the first all alone in 1993 and the second shared with Bach in 1995 when the rules were changed to account for crowning a world champion header and heeler instead of just one award for the highest-earning team roper. Hurley, 44 in June, made 12 consecutive appearances in the NFR (1986-97) as a header and 15 overall, forming enduring partnerships with Dennis Watkins, Dennis Gatz and Cody Cowden in addition to Bach. Two of Hurley’s horses, Yellow Bar Smug (1990) and Tres Spiffy Dude (1994), were named AQHA/PRCA Head Horse of the Year.
Taught by his father, Randy, from childhood, Shaun Burchett emerged as one of the most talented young steer ropers the sport had ever seen. Burchett was PRCA Rookie of the Year in 1981 at 17 years old and made his first National Finals Steer Roping appearance just two years later, finishing 14th in the world. He was twice reserve World Champion (1985-86) to ProRodeo Hall of Famer Jim Davis before breaking through to win back-to-back world championships in 1987-88, over Davis. Burchett appeared in nine consecutive NFSRs (1983-91) despite losing his spleen and suffering damage to a kidney in May 1989 when his truck collided with a train. Burchett, of Pryor, Okla., broke the NFSR record with a 9.8-second run in 1990 and was the first steer roper ever to post a time under 9.0 seconds. He did it twice in 1987, with runs of 8.5 and 8.9 seconds. He died in a single-vehicle accident in Sherman, Texas, Jan. 26, 1992, at age 28.
Reeves, the 2001 World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider and 18-time NFR qualifier, received the ProRodeo Hall of Fame Mentoring Award in 2007 after taking Ranger (Texas) College to the College National Finals Rodeo men’s title in his second season as coach. As a competitor, Reeves qualified for the first 18 NFRs held in Las Vegas (1985-2002), six times finishing among the top four in the world. Only Billy Etbauer has more NFR qualifications with 19. Reeves, 43, also earned a silver medallion for finishing second at the 2002 Olympic Command Performance Rodeo in Farmington, Utah, while serving as captain for the gold medal-winning United States team. He retired in 2005 with career earnings of $1,745,962, putting him 20th on the all-time list entering the 2008 season.
Tooke started raising horses on the family’s Montana ranch in 1936, and the breeding program he created with his son, Ernest, has produced more than 6,000 bucking horses, passed along to every top stock contractor in North America. The foundations of the Tooke bloodline were Prince, General Custer, Timberline, Gray Wolf and Snowflake. Since 1987, the majority of National Finals Rodeo champion broncs and PRCA Bucking Horses of the Year award recipients are genetically linked to the Tookes’ program, including Angel Blue, Spring Fling, Air Wolf, Commotion, Guilty Cat, Bobby Joe Skoal, Challenger and Cloud Gray.
The pride of the Oral Zumwalt rodeo string out of Missoula, Mont., Trails End was the 1959 Rodeo Cowboys Association Bucking Horse of the Year and was three times recognized as the top saddle bronc of the National Finals Rodeo (1959-61). The nearly 1,300-pound sorrel put the best riders of the era in the dirt during his 11 NFR appearances, including ProRodeo Hall of Fame inductees Casey Tibbs and Guy Weeks. In 1959, Trails End was ridden just four times in 13 tries, and three of the cowboys who made it to the eight-second whistle were rewarded with a first-place buckle.
For parts of five decades, the husband and wife team of Leon and Vicki Adams from Stuart, Okla., has been entertaining rodeo crowds with Roman riding on the backs of Brahma bulls, horses dancing on their hind legs and Brahmas leaping through hoops of fire. Leon, 77, received the PRCA Specialty Act of the Year Award in 1982, followed two years later by Vicki, 56. They twice won the award together, in 1987 and 1997. Apart from appearing at major rodeos all across the United States, the Adams have performed in France, Japan, Finland, Mexico and Canada.
The term all-around takes on a different meaning when applied to Howard, of Minnewauken, N.D. An all-around cowboy who competed at the highest level of ProRodeo as a young man, Howard would later serve on the PRCA Board of Directors, as a PRCA pickup man and as one of the first PRCA professional judges (1982-94), working the National Finals Rodeo 11 times. Howard competed in all three roughstock events as a professional, finishing as reserve World Champion in bull riding three times (1955, 1957 and 1960) and also as reserve World Champion in the all-around to Jim Shoulders in 1957. He qualified in saddle bronc riding and bull riding at the first two National Finals Rodeos in 1959 and 1960 and was the bull riding average winner both years before his competitive career was cut short by injuries suffered at the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days in 1961.
One of rodeo’s most respected and well-liked officials, Lytle helped develop and write the PRCA’s judging handbook, professionalizing the sport. Lytle, of Byhalia, Miss., became a judge after a competitive career as a tie-down roper and steer wrestler, judging 24 National Finals Rodeos, Cheyenne (Wyo.), Pendleton (Ore.), Houston, Fort Worth and other top rodeos all over the country. He became a field representative for the PRCA in 2000, training prospective judges and working with accredited judges to help make them better. Despite a quiet battle he waged with leukemia over eight years, he kept judging until November 2001 and, even after he was hospitalized, he analyzed judging statistics and watched events on TV. He died April 10, 2002, at age 61.
The ProRodeo Hall of Fame Selection Committee voted unanimously April 22 to officially induct the 16 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo committees that had been previously honored with special recognition by the PRCA and ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
The committees will be inducted with the rest of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame Class of 2008 at the July 12 induction ceremony in the garden area of the Colorado Springs, Colo. museum. Tickets for the induction ceremony and the luncheon that follows are $20 for non-members, $18 for members and $10 for children (6 through 12). The Cowboy Dinner & Ball will be held at 6 p.m. on July 11 at a location to be determined.
Those rodeo committees being inducted are: (listed alphabetically)
Buffalo Bill Rodeo (North Platte, Neb.)
Calgary (Alberta) Stampede
California Rodeo Salinas
Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days
Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo (Pocatello, Idaho)
Grand National Rodeo, Horse & Stock Show (San Francisco)
Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo
La Fiesta de los Vaqueros (Tucson, Ariz.)
National Western Stock Show & Rodeo (Denver)
Pendleton (Ore.) Round-Up
Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Reno (Nev.) Rodeo
San Antonio (Texas) Stock Show & Rodeo
Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show (Fort Worth, Texas)
West of the Pecos Rodeo (Pecos, Texas)
World’s Oldest Rodeo Prescott (Ariz.) Frontier Days
Moving forward, rodeo committees will follow the same nomination and selection process as all other categories of PRCA membership.
Categories now include rodeo contestants, rodeo committees, stock contractors, contract personnel, rodeo livestock, rodeo notables and lifetime achievement.
Since the Hall’s opening in 1979, and not including the 2008 class, 197 people and 24 animals have been inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. More than 40,000 people annually visit the 30,000-square-foot facility, which is located adjacent to the national headquarters of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
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A strong windstorm blew through Garfield County, Nebraska, the afternoon of May 12, bringing damage to the rodeo grounds in Burwell, the home of Nebraska’s Big Rodeo.