Pro rodeo has shifted into high gear.

Between now and Sept. 30, numerous Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association/Women’s Professional Rodeo Association athletes will travel aggressively to rodeos in North America as they attempt to qualify for the Dec. 5-14 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

In order to earn a trip to the WNFR, a competitor must finish in the top 15 in a single event when the regular season concludes on Sept. 30. Competitors continually enter numerous higher paying rodeos throughout the regular season as they attempt to accumulate enough earnings to qualify for the WNFR.

One of the larger rodeos of the year is the Reno Rodeo in Reno, Nevada, which traditionally is the first major pro rodeo of the summer.

“This is where the after burner kicks in,” said Bob Tallman of Poolville who is serving as an announcer for the 2019 Reno Rodeo.

The 100th annual Reno Rodeo (June 22-29) is offering competitors in the neighborhood of $475,000 in prize money throughout its 2019 edition. It’s billed as the “Wildest, Richest Rodeo in the West.”

“To win [the Reno Rodeo] can help finance your whole summer,” Tallman said. 

A win at the Reno Rodeo can be a big help toward qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo. Last year, Tyson Durfey of Brock won the tie-down roping title at the Reno Rodeo and earned $13,004 on his way to qualifying for the National Finals. Jeff Askey of Athens clinched the bull riding title in Reno and pocketed $12,248 en route to qualifying for the NFR. Hunter Cure, a former Texas Tech star who is from Holliday, won the steer wrestling title in Reno last year and collected $7,465, which helped him qualify for the Las Vegas championships. 

The 2019 Reno Rodeo has drawn credentialed competitors such as Aaron Tsinigine and Patrick Smith who is from Lipan. The former world champion cowboys turned in a speedy first round time of 4.6 seconds during Monday’s performance. Last year, Tsinigine and Trey Yates clinched the team roping title at the Reno Rodeo and each cowboy earned $10,432. The money helped both Tsinigine and Yates qualify for the 2018 WNFR. 

The 2019 Reno Rodeo also drew 2017 world champion Marcos Costa, a former Childress resident who currently is from Menard. Costa turned in a remarkable first round time of 7.9 seconds on Monday. He also turned in a solid second round time of 10.5 on Monday and has a two-run aggregate time of 18.4, which has enabled the Brazilian native to advance to the final round, which is scheduled for Saturday night (June 29).

The 2019 Reno Rodeo also drew former College National Finals Rodeo qualifier Kody Lamb who has turned in impressive bareback riding scores of 83 and 86. Lamb has advanced to the final round with a two-ride aggregate score of 169.

Lamb, a former Tarleton State star who is from Sherwood Park, Alabama, is ranked 39th in the bareback riding world standings with $16,350 in regular season earnings. He would make a big jump in the world standings if he wins the Reno Rodeo this weekend.

In addition to competing in the Reno Rodeo, numerous credentialed competitors also are riding in the West of the Pecos Rodeo in Pecos (June 26-29). The Pecos rodeo began in 1883 and is one of the world’s oldest rodeos.

After competing in the West of the Pecos Rodeo and the Reno Rodeo this week, competitors will ride and rope in July 4 rodeos in cities such as Greeley, Colorado, St. Paul, Oregon, Cody, Wyoming, and Prescott, Arizona. The Independence Day week is called Cowboy Christmas because there’s more enticing July 4 rodeos than competitors can travel to. Competitors also work other larger July rodeos cities such as Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Salinas, California. In late July, competitors saddle up for the renowned Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo in Wyoming.

Tallman said the Reno Rodeo begins an important segment of higher-paying summer rodeos.

“I look at this [the Reno Rodeo], it’s the start and Cheyenne is kind of the end of this bracket,” said Tallman who snared the PRCA’s Announcer of the Year award last year. 

As the Reno Rodeo celebrates its centennial this week, it joins other rodeos in cities such as Fort Worth, Cheyenne, Calgary, Salinas, and Pendleton, Oregon, which have celebrated a centennial anniversary in past years.

“When you dress it up and get on that list, you’ve done something,” Tallman said.

Bob Feist Roping

Arizona cowboys Lane Siggins, 26, and Junior Dees, 21, clinched the title at the Bob Feist Invitational, a high profile team roping show that’s held in Reno in conjunction with the Reno Rodeo. Siggins and Dees earned the $120,000 prize (each competitor pocketed a $60,000 average payoff check) for finishing with the best aggregate time on Monday. Siggins and Dees clinched the title with a six-run time of 44.62 seconds. 

Cale Markham and Brye Crites finished second with a 45.84 and earned an $84,000 average payoff check (each competitor pocketed $42,000). Billy Bob Brown and Evan Arnold finished third with a 46.50 and earned a $59,000 average payoff check ($29,500 each). Aaron Tsinigine and Patrick Smith finished fourth with a 46.66 and earned a $35,000 average payoff check ($17,500 each).

Brazile roping tough

Trevor Brazile announced he would enter into semi-retirement as he was about to compete in the 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in December in Las Vegas.

Brazile, who is from Decatur, said he desires to spend more time with his family and mostly compete at rodeos closer to home. During the past weekend, Brazile competed in a PRCA show at Cowtown Coliseum in the Fort Worth Stockyards in Fort Worth, which is about a 40 minute drive from his Decatur home. Brazile, who has a record 24 world titles in the PRCA, clinched the tie-down roping title with a remarkable time of 7.5 seconds and earned $594.

Cowtown Coliseum officials recently announced they will feature a PRCA rodeo each week for 10 consecutive weeks in the Fort Worth Stockyards. The series of 10 rodeos began June 14. The performances will begin at 8 p.m. every Friday and Saturday night through Aug. 17.

Double duty

In addition to being a successful college rodeo coach, Justin Browning also is a prize winning saddle bronc rider. Browning is the coach at McNeese State. On June 15, he was in Casper, Wyo., where he watched McNeese State’s women’s team clinch a second consecutive women’s team title at the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s College National Finals Rodeo. During the past weekend, Browning finished second in the saddle bronc riding title race at the June 22 Mesquite Championship Rodeo in Mesquite, with a 78 and earned $474.

The weekly Mesquite Championship Rodeo kicked off its 2019 season on June 1. The 2019 Mesquite Rodeo, which is sanctioned by the PRCA, runs every Saturday night through Aug. 17.

Hillman riding tough

Former National Finals qualifier Stevi Hillman of Weatherford clinched the barrel racing title at the June 22-23 Guy Weadick Days Rodeo in High River, Alberta, with a 15.956 and earned $2,502. Hillman is ranked No. 7 in the WPRA's barrel racing world title race with $50,906. Nellie Miller is ranked No. with $83,839.

Tuf Cooper, the 2017 world all-around champion who has homes in Weatherford and Decatur, finished second in the tie-down roping title race in High River with a 9.6 and he pocketed $1,863. Caleb Smidt of Bellville is ranked No. 1 with $84,738.

 

Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has reported on rodeos and horse shows for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for more than three decades. Email him at bchoffman777@earthlink.net.