Saturday was put-up, pack-up and payday at the 2018 Rodeo Rapid City rodeo as chutes closed for the final time on the 41st annual event.
A double shot at big buck opportunities with both matinee and evening performances at a Rapid City rodeo that ranks among the top 20 professional rodeos in monies paid out to rodeo athletes.
The large and enthusiastic Saturday night crowd at Barnett Arena saw their zeal properly rewarded as Ty Manke, a Hermosa cowboy and a Rapid City Central grad who now calls the city home, won the rodeo saddle bronc event with an 86-point ride on Sutton Rodeo’s award winning South Point.
“I’ve been on South Point a couple of times (82 and 84) and seen the horse at the National Finals, and I was really excited to draw that horse tonight. I knew I had a chance of winning if I did my job, and if I didn’t she was would buck me off,” said Manke, whose winning ride came on the very last bronc ride of the rodeo. “I didn’t mind going out last. I guess the older I get the less it gets to me. And growing up in Hermosa and now living here in Rapid is kind of cool doing good at your hometown rodeo."
Earlier, bareback rider Tyler Nelson had revved up the crowd posting the best overall winning time of the rodeo on the very first ride of the evening. Nelson’s winning trip of 85.5 ride squeezed the Victor Idaho cowboy past David Peeples’ 84.5 effort made in Saturday’s matinee performance.
“I didn’t know about being first, but I knew I had a good horse (Burch Rodeo’s Bubble Bath), one of the good ones you can show off on,” Nelson said. “Saturday night here is amazing, a great crowd. I’ve been coming here for maybe five years and I’ll keep coming back regardless."
Though finishing third overall with an 84 point ride, JJ Elshere, a four-time NFR qualifier and one of South Dakota's very best saddle bronc riders, had perhaps the most exciting bronc ride of the day on a young bucking horse that did just about everything but rollover in an attempt to dislodge the Hereford cowboy.
“There wasn’t a lot of timing in the ride, I guess, since it was a young horse in a small pen and you’re never sure what’s going to happen. I’ll tell you there were a lot of direction changes and I’m just glad I was able to stay on,” Elshere said. “I just tried to slash away and my ride wasn’t much. I think most of the credit for that ride goes to the horse."
A four time NFR qualifier (2006, 2008-10) and current Badlands Circuit champion, Elshere has chosen to stay closer to home the last few years, competing in circuit and area rodeos while helping wife Lindsay to raise their five sons.
That choice has prevented Elshere from making the necessary money to earn a spot in the top 15, thereby earning a return trip to Las Vegas and a shot at the big paydays now available at the National Finals Rodeo.
Still one of professional rodeo’s best bronc riders at 37-years-old, a solid start to the current PRCA rodeo season — Elshere currently stands 18th in world standings — he is pondering the possibility of expanding his horizons a bit in 2018.
“You know, I don’t know. I ended up entering San Antone and we’ll see how that goes, and if that goes good, we’ll make a plan after that,” Elshere added.
On the timed event side of Barnett Arena, a field heavily laden with area cowboys and cowgirls on the final day of the rodeo were not able to best the times posted earlier in the week though posting some solid times.
The best came courtesy Volborg, Montana, barrel racer Ashley Day. The reigning Mountain Circuit champion circles the cans in 12.85 second to claim second place money. In other events, Dane Kissack (Spearfish) picked up some fourth-place money in tie-down roping with a 9.4 second loop and bind, and the Colorado team roping duo of Jesse Sheffield and Derek Pake Younger posted a third best 5.7-second outing.
2018 Rodeo Rapid City Event Winners: All-Around — Eli Lord (Sturgis); Bareback — Tyler Nelson (Victor, Idaho) 85.5; Steer Wrestling — Chasen Floyd (Buffalo) 3.7 seconds; Team Roping — Turner Harris (Kildeer, North Dakota) and Ross Carson (Grassy Butte, North Dakota) 5.5 seconds; Saddle Bronc — Ty Manke (Rapid City) 86; Tie-Down Roping — Tyler Milligan (Pawhuska, Oklahoma) 8.5 seconds; Barrel Racing — Bobbi Grann (Sheyenne, North Dakota) 12.78 seconds; Bull Riding — Cole Elshere (Faith) 88 points.