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A talented group of South Dakota cowboys demonstrated that proper preparation for a top-notch rodeo performance can come in a variety of methods Friday night.

Cole Elshere (Faith), Clay Cowan (Highmore) and Allen Auer (Whitewood) all turned in winning performances at Saturday night’s final performance of the 2012 Range Days Rodeo.

For young saddle bronc riders Cole Elshere, Chuck Schmidt and traveling partner Troy Crowser the method was a journey well taken as the trio spent the night on the road after competing in Kennewick, Wash., on Thursday night. A night of listening to the hum of tires on road obviously had little effect as Elshere turned an 86-point ride. good enough to claim the top money in this year’s rodeo. Schmidt — the 2008 College Nationals Finals saddle bronc champion — took down the second spot with an 84-point ride.

“We rode in Washington last night and did real good and then drove back here last night,” said Elshere, who currently leads the Badlands Circuit and sits 15th in world standings. “This is a real good rodeo, especially for our circuit, so we always try to hit this one.”

The weekend road trip is just beginning as the trio was heading back on the road Saturday night for another all night trip to San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

“We’ll leave tonight, and we ride there tomorrow, so we got a little trip ahead of us,” Elshere added. “We’ve been going hard all month and we have another one ahead of us.”

Auer took an entirely different approach to his Range Days appearance.

“I took the week off and helped my dad work on the ranch, and I guess that gave me a boost and gave me a craving to come out and ride hard this weekend,” Auer said.

That approach worked, too, as Auer took all his bull had to offer on his way to an 86-point ride, the best of the night. It was second in the rodeo behind North Dakotan Abe Dillman’s 89-point Thursday night ride.

Nobody had a busier night in the rodeo arena on than Clay Cowan as the 2011 Ram National Circuit Finals steer wrestling champion came into the Range Rodeo as yet unqualified for this year’s Badland Circuit Finals in Minot, N.D., in October. It is a necessary step to a repeat trip to the Ram national finals.

Cowan turned in an impressive night’s work winning both the steer wrestling, a 4.3-second run, and second overall in the rodeo behind Chason Floyd (3.9); and the tie down roping with a 10.1-second run.

“I really haven’t had much luck this summer,” Cowan said of what has been an off season by his championship standards. “I’ve been busy at home, but I’ve been out enough that I should be in a better spot than I am. So I knew if I was going to make the circuit finals I had to do good tonight. Luckily, I drew good, and my horses worked good, and things came together and for me.”

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