Canadian Finals Rodeo off to a strong start

There was no shortage of adrenaline in Rexall Place during the opening performance of the 42nd Canadian Finals Rodeo. That’s just the kind of atmosphere Morgan Grant thrives on. The Ontario cowboy, who now makes his home in Didsbury, was happy to be part of the action. Grant is the defending High Point Champion, but this summer was in danger of missing the CFR in both his events.

There was no shortage of adrenaline in Rexall Place during the opening performance of the 42nd Canadian Finals Rodeo. That’s just the kind of atmosphere Morgan Grant thrives on.

The Ontario cowboy, who now makes his home in Didsbury, was happy to be part of the action. Grant is the defending High Point Champion, but this summer was in danger of missing the CFR in both his events. However, in a late season surge, he managed to make it to Edmonton in both the steer wrestling and tie-down roping.

On Wednesday night, Grant was the first steer wrestler to nod his head and he came out and snatched the first place cash of $12,160 in just 3.4 seconds. He nearly matched his total season earnings of $16,114 in just one run.

But Grant had to make a last minute switch before his opening run.

“The good horse I was planning to ride actually came up a little sore today, so we gave him the night off,” explained Grant. “I was lucky enough to get on Dusty Walker’s horse, which is the horse of the year in steer wrestling, so it’s a great horse.”

“It was the first time I rode him, and boy, did he feel awesome,” bubbled the upbeat cowboy. “I just got a really good head catch, a good start, and that steer went flying past me.”

“It was awesome. I’m just on cloud nine.”

Most timed event contestants like to get a sense of what kind of head start to give the steers, so they would rather be later in the round.

“Usually, going in, I’d say that. But I got such a great start, I might have to switch my preference to being gunner now,” laughed the 26-year-old cowboy.

Grant moves up to fifth now in the Canadian championship race, behind leader Scott Guenthner.

Grant didn’t cash in during the tie-down roping, but it was hard for anyone to catch defending Canadian champion Matt Shiozawa. The Idaho cowboy sizzled through his run in seven seconds flat, to set a new arena record for the CFR.

“Man, I couldn’t think of a better way to start my week than that right there,” grinned Shiozawa. “Honestly, I was a little nervous today. I haven’t been a lot of places lately. I’m trying this mare. I’m considering using her for the NFR, so I thought this would be a good place to give her a try. Looks like we’re off to something right.”

The $12,160 Shiozawa won boosted him right to the front of the pack in the Canadian tie-down standings.

Ponoka team roper Levi Simpson was back in his winning form, along with partner Jeremy Buhler. They snagged a steer in 4.9 seconds, to claim first place and $6080 in the round. But the brothers Justin and Brett McCarroll of Camrose placed third in the round, and have claimed first overall in the team roping championship race.

“To be able to come in and make as best a run as we could and put the pressure on everyone else (is great),” said Simpson. “It’s exciting to have a first round win, and start off with a bang.

Canadian season and world leader Cody DeMoss shows no signs of backing off in the saddle bronc riding. The Louisiana cowboy combined with Calgary’s Mad Money for 85 points to collect the top cheque and build his lead. Taking first in bareback riding was Utah’s Caleb Bennett, with 85.25 points on Kesler’s Starburst. Jake Vold is still the overall bareback leader. The fastest time in the barrel racing was turned in by B.C. cowgirl Julie Leggett, at 14.817 seconds. That’s moved her up to second, behind leader Nancy Csabay. Jared Parsonage of Maple Creek, SK was the bull riding winner, with an 86.5 on last year’s bull of the year, Proper Ripped. It’s Parsonage’s first CFR, and he’s closing ground on season leader Dakota Buttar. Tanner Girletz of Bowden was tied for second in the round with Buttar, with their matching 85 scores.

Sundre’s Wyatt Gleason was the novice bareback winner, picking up $1200 for a 76.5 point ride. Lane Cust of Bluffton was the only novice saddle bronc rider to get a score, so his 73 point ride was worth $1200. Luke Ferber of Irricana topped the steer riding with a 78.

The Canadian Finals Rodeo continues tonight at 7:30 pm in Edmonton.

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