The final day of the Days of ’76 rodeo typically reflects big numbers and a winning ride or two in a rough stock event as bareback, saddle bronc. Bull riders pull out all the stops while striving to close out the rodeo with a paycheck worthy effort.
It is easier said than done since making that happen requires not only a quality ride but a bucking horse with horsepower or a rank bull capable of being ridden.
Three world champions, including the reigning world champion, Zeke Thurston, were on hand in saddle bronc hoping for a quality horse, a well-performed ride, and a little bit of luck
While Thurston came up short (81-point ride), as did 20 14 champ, Spencer Wright.
Two-time world champion Taos Muncy, finished strong as the Corona, New Mexico, bronc rider rode Burch Rodeo’s Bubble Bath to an 87.5-point score to earn his second Days of ’76 gold buckle.
In bareback, a couple of cowboys with National Finals Rodeo experience did turn in a couple of quality runs though were unable to match or exceed the 87-point ride made by Louisiana’s Trenten Montero on Thursday night.
Orin Larsen (Inglis, Manitoba), a two-time collegiate champion and five-time NFR competitor, earned a share of 2nd place with an 86-point-effort.
And Shane O’Connell posted an 85-point ride in what the Rapid City Central graduate hopes will be a big foot up in earning a second NFR appearance.
“I won second on that horse back in the day. The last time I was 86 on him in Deadwood. He’s a darn good horse. I saw him in Belle Fourche and he was outstanding so I just need to go out and do my job tonight,” said O’Connell who came into the night sitting 26th in world standings. “I’ve got some ground to make up for sure. I know I’ve going to have to rodeo a little harder than some guys now just to get back up with them. But as long as they keep having these rodeos, I will catch some steam here one of these days.”
Another Rapid City bareback rider by way of Charleville Australia, wasn't as fortunate. Jamie Howlett came into Deadwood sitting No. 3 in the PRCA world standings, an achievement considerably aided by wins at Wall and Mobridge earlier in the month.
Howlett’s return trip to the South Dakota rodeo scene didn’t go as well as a re-ride bucking horse came out a little lacking horsepower resulting in a 78-point ride.
Despite the Deadwood setback, Howlett remained upbeat about his prospects of earning a first trip to the National Finals Rodeo.
“This year I’ve drawn better horses and my mentality has been stronger, too. Since August of last year, I’ve been really trying to really knuckle down on my mental approach, and I feel that’s helped out a bunch this year,” Howlett said.
Only the bull riding event failed to produce a top-three ride in the Saturday night finale as a pen of rank bulls out of the Burch Rodeo string had the upper hand on a talented field of bull riders that included reigning and six-time world champion Sage Kimsey.
The Women’s Professional Rodeo Association ladies stepped up with the top performance at the timed event end of the arena as Leslie Smalygo (Skiatook, Okla.) spun through the cloverleaf in 17.63 seconds to secure a second-place spot behind event winner Emily Miller (Weatherford, OKla., 17.61).
2020 Days of ’76 Gold Buckle Winners
Bareback – Trenton Montero 87- points on Sutton Rodeo’s Knobs; Steer Wrestling Ave. – Stetson Jorgenson 8.3-seconds/2 head; Tie Down Ave. – Caleb Smidt 16.4/2; Team Roping Ave. – Jake Orman and Brye Crites 10.6/2; Barrel Racing – Emily Miller 17.61-seconds; Saddle bronc – Taos Muncy, 87-point ride on Burch Rodeo’s Bubble Bath; Bull Riding – Braden Richardson – 87.5
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