There’s now a Ponoka cowboy with his name on the top of his hometown Stampede’s leaderboard. That’s not an easy task, at a rodeo with close to 500 of the best pro contestants in the world vying for their share of the $360,000 payoff.
Brett Buss and his partner Klay Whyte sped their way to the front of the team roping standings by catching two steers Monday in a total of 12.7 seconds.
“We had a pretty good steer in the morning,” stated Whyte, who grew up in the Bashaw region, but works out of Airdrie currently. “We just tried to jackpot him and stay aggressive, and make the best run we could on that steer, and it worked out really well.”
The solid 6.9 second put them in the hunt, but the duo had to make the most of the steer drawn for them in the afternoon.
“It was one of my picks. I really liked him,” acknowledged Buss, after he made the head catch which set up a 5.8 second run on their second steer. “I got a little better start than I was planning on. I was a little closer (to the barrier) than I wanted to, but I was committed to it, and either I was going to break it, or I was going to get out and have a good chance. It worked in our favor today. We went and caught him, and we’ve got ourselves in good shape coming for Wednesday.”
“Hopefully our roll keeps on going until then, and we’ll have some hometown luck.”
During the busy July first rodeo run, the duo is also in good shape for a big cheque from the Williams Lake, BC rodeo, after getting their steer caught in five seconds flat to share the lead with one performance to go.
It’s the first year the two cousins have roped as a team since their high school rodeo days, when they had the opposite roles. That was seven years ago but being together again has rejuvenated their youthful enthusiasm.
“We always act like a bunch of kids, I guess you could say,” chuckled Buss. “We always messed around in the practice pen swapping ends, so we’ve run a lot of steers together. Klay’s Dad was actually one of the guys that first got me started roping, so that’s kind of neat. It’s been a great start to the year. We’ve had a lot of luck, drawing good and using our steers, and we seem to fit good.”
There are plenty of fans to cheer on the two, in a town where team roping is as popular as hockey. But whether that’s a plus or a minus in the game is sometimes hard to tell.
“Some say it’s a hometown jinx. I haven’t really had a whole lot of luck at the hometowner,” admitted Buss. “But you’ve just got to treat it like every other rodeo and go do your job on the cow you have, and help your partner as much as you can in your team event.”
There were leader changes in all the timed events during the fifth performance. Idaho’s Matt Shiozawa put together a pair of tidy runs in 17.4 seconds, to claim the number one spot in the tie-down roping.
“With this long score here, just to run one out there a ways and tie a couple down has a little added difficulty, with a little more variables in the scoring,” noted Shiozawa, the current Canadian champion. “But that’s also what makes this Stampede so unique.”
“We have to walk a fine line out here. You’ve got to stay in control, but you still want to kind of push the speed boundaries.”
Fresh off a big $11,700 win at the Reno Rodeo on the weekend, Texan Hunter Cure rolled into Ponoka and wrestled two steers in just 9.9 seconds to take over the lead in that event. He’s also taken top spot in the world standings now, just a year after serious back surgery. But Rowdy Hays, from Rocky Mountain House, moved into third overall with his 11.7 second total.
“Shoot, it went pretty good,” grinned Hays, who got his first steer down in just 4.2 seconds. “I had a really good start. On my second one, I was a little bit late, but had a lot of time to play with.”
In the barrel racing, it was a former world champion, Mary Walker of Texas, who readjusted the leaderboard, after making her trip in 17.473 seconds. The 88.25 from Scott Schiffner is still the high mark in bull riding, while Louisiana’s Brad Harter hangs on to the saddle bronc riding lead with his 84.75. The early 87.25 from Cadogan’s Clint Laye remains untouchable in the bareback riding. There were no changes in the novice events, leaving Wyatt Gleeson first in the novice bareback; Blaze Cress in the novice saddle bronc, and Luke Ferber in the steer riding.
Pre race rains made for a slightly slower racetrack for the chuckwagons on Monday Night. Night four was the last chance for the drivers to try and get into the top eight for “Semi Final Tuesday.”
When the night was complete, it was Kirk Sutherland who topped the overall aggregate standings with a four-day total time of 5:06.22, and will be joined by Colt Cosgrave, Jordie Fike, Obrey Motowylo, Kurt Bensmiller, Jason Glass, Logan Gorst and Evan Salmond are who made the cut and will compete in Tuesday’s semi-final round. Codey McCurrach ended up in the crying hole, ninth place overall, and just missed the semi-final round by just 22 one-hundreds of a second.
The top four times from Tuesday’s semi-final round will qualify into the $50,000.00 Tommy Dorchester Sudden Death Championship final heat where the winner will take home the 2015 Ponoka Stampede Championship.
As far as day results are concerned, it was Kurt Bensmiller who cashed the top cheque after posting the fastest time of a off night with a 1:17.21. Colt Cosgrave placed second on the night; John Walters was third, with Logan Gorst and Jason Glass rounding out the top five on the night.
There’s one more performance of pthe ro rodeo in Ponoka this afternoon at 1:00 pm, with the Finals tomorrow afternoon at 1:00, and the Stampede Showdown Round at 6:30 pm in the evening, along with the $50,000 Tommy Dorchester Dash for Cash in the chuckwagons.