HERMISTON — Wearing a black longsleeve shirt, time-worn jeans and bright, colorful chaps, Texas bareback rider Luke Creasy hunkered down on his horse to get ready to ride.
He was lined up to be just the third cowboy to break in the new Farm-City Pro Rodeo arena at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Events Center and wanted to give the interested crowd a good show. But he was also determined to get a high score to help assure him some money, as the Garland, Texas native sat No. 27 in the world and standings and in need of some money as the rodeo seasons turns toward the stretch run.
And Creasy checked off both of his objectives in exciting fashion, riding Calgary Stampede’s Soap Bubbles for an 85.5 point ride to win the first performance in bareback and a $100 dash-for-cash bonus. It was the second time that Creasy matched up with that horse, with the first coming nearly three years ago where he managed a 79 point ride.
“I busted out of (the chute) pretty hard, had a firm mark out and just started spurring away,” Creasy said of his ride. “The horse was there all the way around and I didn’t expose as much to let him find a rhythm and I think it helped out. It just felt pretty good.”
In bull riding there were only four qualified rides out of the nine that strapped in on the first night, but the four each gave the crowd something to cheer for. Marsing, Idaho cowboy Chase Robbins set the bar with an 80 point ride on Korkow Rodeo’s Double Action, but it was Stephenville, Texas’ Toby Collins that stole the show. The second to last ride of the night, Collins matched up with Kessler’s Goosebumps and mastered it for 87 points to shoot to the top of the leaderboard, giving a forceful fist pump after and letting out a cheer after hearing his score get announced.
“It felt really good,” Collins said, smiling. “I’ve been struggling the last few weeks and to get an 87 was the icing on the cake.”
Brady Portnier of Caldwell, Idaho recorded an 80 on Korkow’s Hannibal and Jesse Flores of La Puente, California rode Korkow’s Red Out for 79.5 points to round out the night and set a decent bar for the final three performances.
Saddle bronc brought the closest competition of the three bucking events, but it was Hillsdale, Wyoming’s Brody Cress that came away on top Wednesday as he rode Calgary Stampede’s Sergeant Whitney for 83.5 points to take home the $100 bonus and set himself up for some go-round money.
He held off Australian cowboy Jake Finlay (79.5), and the trio of Nat Stratton of Goodwell, Oklahoma, Tucker Hill of Klamath Falls, and Nick LaDuke of Livermore, California who all three recorded 78.5 scores. LaDuke’s score was perhaps the most impressive of the night as his horse, Peigan Warrior from Calgary, nearly bucked him off right out of the gates, but LaDuke kept his balance and stayed on to finish out the ride.
The roping events saw the stock get the better of the competitors for the most part, as just five of 12 entries in team roping and four of six recorded times in tie-down roping. Terrebone, Oregon’s Russell Cardoza, currently fifth in the world standings for all-around, won the night with an 8.2-second run and just barely beat out Childress, Texas’ Stetson Vest who had an 8.3. Heppner’s Ryan Bothum would have had a 10.3, but he ended up with a no time as his calf busted out of the ties.
In team roping there was a two-way tie for the top spot as teams of Erich Rogers (Round Rock, Arizona) and Corey Petska (Marana, Arizona) as well as Garrett Tonozzi (Fruita, Colorado) and Wyatt Cox (Arroyo Grande, California) each roped their steer in 4.5 seconds to each take home a $100 bonus.
Later in the evening, the ladies took center stage with barrel racing and Samantha Lane of Arlington, Oregon impressed her Eastern Oregon fans with a 17.55 time first out of the gates. However Kellie Collier of Hereford, Texas followed Lane and edged her out with a 17.24 time to take the top spot.
The closest competition of the timed events came with the bulldogers, as four cowboys recorded times of 4.4 seconds or faster. Benton, Arkansas’ Jason Thomas was the first one to set the bar with a 4.4 and then Walla Walla’s Chance Gartner lowered it with a 4.1. After Ryan Bothum recorded a 4.3, it was two-time world champion and Holliday, Texas cowboy Hunter Cure that took the top spot with a dazzling 3.9-second run.
“That was a really good steer, you couldn’t ask for anything more,” Cure said afterward. “My guide did well, because I didn’t ride well out of the gate, and knocked the steer right to me and I got him.”
The Farm-City Pro Rodeo picks back up for the second performance on Thursday night with Bullfighter’s Only bout starting at 6:30 p.m., Mutton Bustin’ at 7:25 p.m. and then the main event at 7:45 p.m.
Contact Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839.