Scott Wyzykoski brought a fan club to the Ponoka Stampede Friday afternoon, and he couldn’t let them down.
The steer wrestler from Eckville came down the famous long score run, and maneuvered a steer over in five seconds flat. Combined with his morning time of 8.3 seconds, his 13.3 puts him tied with Curtis Cassidy for second place overall.
One section of the grandstand roared especially loud, and he waved his hat to them.
“I drew a good steer, and got of his way, and was quick enough to place in the round, and come back on Sunday,” bubbled Wyzykoski. “It’s exciting for me. I’ve never made the short go here before, and it’s been six years in the waiting. I’ve got my camp kids here too, so it makes it extra special.”
Wyzykoski, who is a dentist by trade, is director for Camp Quality Alberta. It’s a camp for kids with cancer and their siblings, which is held each August in Sylvan Lake. About 30 of the kids, their families and volunteers came to cheer the cowboy on.
“It’s about the only thing I’ve found that’s better fun in the summertime than rodeoing, so I take a week off for that. It’s nice to have them here, and it’s exciting to do well in front of them, too.
“We pretty much have the same families every year. Once they come, they get hooked. It’s a nice week off for the parents. We have full medical supervision, and all their siblings can come too. It’s a lot of fun. It’s hard to describe. I don’t know anything that could touch rodeo, other than a week at camp.”
While the doctor was happy to have the cheering squad, he admits they didn’t really factor into his mindset during the run.
“When you’re coming down this alley at 40 miles an hour, there’s not much going through your mind,” laughed Wyzykoski. “But it was sure fun when I realized I was quick enough to come back for the short round. I was pretty happy. I don’t think I’ve waved my hat in a long time.”
Their special roar after the run was appreciated.
“There was a little bit of a chill come up my back. I don’t get too excited about much, but I was pretty tickled all around, for sure.”
Wyzykoski describes his season as just so-so at this point. But he knows there could be a lot on the line come Sunday’s Finals.
“This is the rodeo that can leap frog you over top of everybody. You’ve got to either show up big for the big rodeos, or you’ve got to pick away, taking cheques at all the little ones while you can. It’s nice to win at both.”
Wyzykoski was just as happy as the rest of the Ponoka fans when his good friend and practice partner Trygve Pugh ran down the lane a few moments later and slammed his steer in 3.7 seconds, to take over first place in the round.
Pugh was wanting to make amends after taking a ‘no time’ on his run during the morning slack.
“I didn’t have a very good morning,” Pugh acknowledged, shaking his head. “So I went home, cleaned up, and came back. I was a little upset, so I guess I took it out on the next one.
“He looked good, so I figured I could get him thrown down quick. They said I never got a real good start on the barrier, but it was good enough. He waited for me,” said the Ponoka bulldogger.
“I’m needing the money, but to do it here (at home), is really good, too.”
“Nobody was watching this morning, so I had to bear down this afternoon.”
Straws Milan remains the fastest man in steer wrestling at 12.2 seconds.
Meanwhile in the barrel racing, Ponoka’s own Shayna Dodds had the fastest run of the past several performances, turning the pattern in 17.47 seconds, which slides her into third spot, behind a couple of world champions, including Lindsay Sears who still leads with her 17.29.
Central Alberta’s Jim Berry was best of the bronc riding bunch on Friday.
He was 85 points on Calgary’s Liqueur Whiskey, just three-quarters of a point behind leader Luke Butterfield.
“It felt really good,” beamed Berry, who lives in Rocky Mountain House. “That’s a really nice horse. You can’t get any nicer than that one. I talked to Dustin Flundra last night at Cody (Wyoming) about the horse, and he told me to go with more rein than anybody has on the horse, so that’s what I did today. He won Innisfail last year on that horse, so it worked out again today too.”
Berry wasn’t working on much sleep, having made an all night drive to Ponoka from Cody, where he and Flundra are sharing first place. Their travelling partner Todd Herzog was leading at Greeley, Colorado when they left that show as well. The next two stops for the gang would be Airdrie, and Williams Lake, B.C. before returning to Ponoka Sunday.
Tanner Byrne of Prince Albert was one of only two bull riders to make the whistle Friday, marking 83.75 on Bull Durham, to move him into seventh spot. The top 12 return for the Finals. Jesse Torkelson of Winfield is still on top with his 88.5. Still a bit tentative in his return after a year off with a badly broken ankle, Davey Shields of DeWinton spurred out another decent ride in the bareback event, marking 84.75 on French Wake. He’s now third behind leader Bobby Mote with his 86.5. Clint Cooper had the best result in tie down roping, moving to the lead in the slack round with a 7.5 second run. His total of 17.6 seconds on the pair leaves him sitting seventh, with his brother Tuf still leading at 16.1. In the team roping, Troy Fischer of Mayerthorpe and Stacy Cornet of Brant moved into third spot on the leaderboard with 14.6 seconds on two head. Riley and Brady Minor of Washington are still the fastest at 10.7 seconds.
In the pro chuckwagons Chad Harden laid down the fastest run of the night at 1:16.17, but he is still well off the overall lead which now belongs to Grant Profit who’s 1:16.45 run on Friday jumped him ahead of Obrey Motowylo for an overall time of 5:08.78.
Today is the last chance for competitors to make the top 12 list for Sunday afternoon’s rodeo finals, with the $10,000 bonus Showdown Round and the $50,000 Tommy Dorchester Dash for Cash Sunday evening. Performance times remain 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.