When it came to the roughstock events on the first night of the Cache Country Rodeo, it was a star-studded affair.
The top ranked cowboy in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) in bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding were scheduled to be at Thursday night’s performance, which was Suicide Prevention Night at the rodeo. Only the bareback rider didn’t make it, and the top ladies breakaway roper was also on hand.
There were many ranked competitors Thursday night as the season starts to wind down. Cowboys and cowgirls are trying to finish strong and be in the top 15 to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo (NFR). That is a big payday for the athletes.
“From here on out at almost every rodeo you are going to be seeing the top guys in the world,” bull rider Jordan Wacey Spears said. “Every rodeo you go to now, you are riding against the best guys. Luckily tonight I drew a good bull.”
Spears started the week ranked No. 17. He helped his cause of trying to get into the top 15 with a 90-point ride on the bull Angels Landing. The Redding, California, cowboy will win some money, but will have to wait to see how riders do on Friday and Saturday.
“I don’t ever look at the standings,” Spears said. “I’m not too worried about it. The reason I’m here is I love to ride bulls and I was blessed with the talent to do it. The money is great and being at the NFR is everybody’s goal at the end of the end of the year. I just want to stay healthy and take advantage of drawing good bulls.”
Like many PRCA competitors, Spears entered several rodeos for the same night. Depending on the draw they get, helps them make the decision of where to go.
“As soon as I saw my draw here, I knew it was a great bull that has been to the NFR,” Spears said. “When you see your name next to a bull like that, you know you better show up and do your job and hope it all works out.”
The rodeo began with bareback riding, where seven of the cowboys entered where in the top 24 in the world standings. No. 1 Tim O’Connell was entered, but did not make it to Logan. A familiar face to Cache Valley had the best ride of the night. Clayton Biglow of Clements, California, earned a 82.5 score to take the lead after the first night.
“I won this rodeo three years ago; it’s been good to me,” said Biglow, who placed second at That Famous Preston Night Rodeo two weeks ago and has won money at the Cache County Rodeo in the past. “I don’t miss this rodeo.”
Biglow, who is No. 4 in the NFR standings, drew Rockin Ruby and called it “a nice horse.” He has placed on the exact horse at this very same rodeo in the past.
“Hopefully my score will hold, but there is a lot of rodeo still,” Biglow said. “This is a good rodeo and draws the best.”
Six of the nine saddle bronc riders Thursday night were ranked among the top 43. Four of the Wright family, who have numerous world titles among them, were on hand. Ryder Wright, who calls Beaver home, began the week at No. 1 and had the second-best mark of the performance Thursday with an 80. He was bettered by his uncle, Jesse Wright of Milford.
Jesse Wright, who won money two weeks ago with another nephew Rusty Wright at Preston, rode Golden Year to a score of 83. Jesse Wright, who is an eight-time NFR qualifier and won the world title in 2012, is currently No. 37.
“I’ve seen that horse a million times, but tonight was the first time I’ve been able to get on him,” Jesse Wright said. “That is a really nice horse. The horse did his part and I did my part and it all worked out for a good score.”
The saddle bronc riding did not get off to a good start as horses were stumbling and having issues in the chutes. No. 25 Sterling Crawley even had a horse roll over on him and came out unscathed, but had to find his boot that came off in the arena.
“There was some voodoo out there; I’m just glad s- — went right for me,” Jesse Wright said. “I noticed the first three out all got rerides. There was some serious voodoo out there tonight.”
When it came to the final event of the night — bull riding — there was plenty of hype. Of the 14 entered, 12 cowboys were in the top 50 in the NFR standings, including No. 1 Sage Steele Kimzey — a six-time world champion — and No. 3 Josh Frost. However, neither of the top bull riders in town made the required eight-second ride for a score.
The first two riders to nod Thursday night did cover their bulls for high marks. Spears, who has been to the NFR four times, was one of the last to ride and made it count for the 90 he received.
“There is an energy you feel when the first guys ride, but for the most part I try to keep breathing, clear my mind and focus on one job, which is to ride the bull for eight seconds and hopefully it all works out,” Spears said. “... I’ve placed a few times here. When you get a 90, doesn’t matter where you at, it’s a great feeling. You know you have a pretty good chance of winning some money.”
While the roughstock events certainly had star power, there were some top competitors in the timed events as well. No. 1 Shelby Boisjoli was on hand for the breakaway roping, but left the box early and was accessed a 10-second penalty for a time of 12.0 seconds.
The best run of the night in breakaway roping came from No. 11 Kelsie Chace of Dublin, Texas. She roped her calf in 2.4 seconds. A run of 2.2 was made Thursday morning in the slack.
“I’ll take that run,” Chace said. “It wasn’t the prettiest, but I’ll take it. That calf was strong and I just tried to give myself a chance and it worked out. ... It’s crazy fast. That’s just how the game is.”
Earlier Thursday she roped a calf in 2.4 in Missoula, Montana, and was tied for sixth.
Breakaway roping has been around for some time, but has started appearing in more PRCA rodeos. The women enjoy the opportunity to compete in the big rodeos.
“We don’t have as many rodeos, but we are doing just as much traveling,” Chace said. “More and more are being added, so hopefully it will be just as even as the other events.
In the tie-down roping, a fast time was recorded Thursday morning as well. Westyn Hughes of Caldwell, Texas, nearly beat it. The No. 5 tie-down roper in the world clocked in at 7.9 Thursday night, just missing the 7.8 by Marty Yeates.
“It went good tonight,” Hughes said. “The horse is 75 percent of it, and my horse worked really good and I drew a good calf on top of that. If you have a good horse and a good calf, as a roper you have to do your job.”
Which he did. Thinking about what had been done earlier in the competition is not something he dwells on.
“I just try and go make the smoothest run I can,” Hughes said.
The rodeo will conclude Saturday night with the action beginning at 8 o’clock.