HERMISTON — Travis Taruscio has competed professionally in rodeo for many years now, and he is more than used to the weekly grind of traveling to compete.
However his commute to work on Thursday evening is no doubt the shortest trip he makes all year, as the Stanfield resident had a five minute drive from home to compete at the 30th Farm-City Pro Rodeo. And the hometown boy gave his friends, family, and hometown fans something to stand up and applaud for, as the steer wrestler dazzled the arena with a time of 4.1 seconds to win the night and the $100 bonus.
“It really feels great,” Taruscio said of competing at his hometown rodeo. “To see friends and family in the stands when they don’t get to see you compete all year and then you get to perform like that when they’re around is great.”
Taruscio set the bar pretty high for the night, as he was the event’s first competitor to dash across the dirt. He held off Hemphill, Texas’ Heath Thomas who finished at 4.2 seconds and Namou, Louisiana’s Rowdy Parrott finished third with 4.9 seconds. The win also gave Taruscio another $500 bonus and a memorial knife for the Gray Ribbon Award, given in the memory of late Farm-City board member Darrell Sallee.
“Darrell was a good guy and always nice to me so it means a lot to take this home,” Taruscio said.
Barrel racer Kimmie Wall may call Utah home, but Eastern Oregon has treated her well over the last few years including in 2016 when she took home the Farm-City barrel racing championship. She rolled into town to compete on Thursday and did not disappoint. Riding her nine-year-old mare named Foxy, Wall sped around all there barrels in a blazing time of 17.20 seconds for the fastest time of the night and it also shot her to the top of the overall leaderboard.
“I have good friends that take care of me during this week and also during Pendleton (Round-Up) and I just have a good vibe here, I guess,” Wall said of her success.
As the fourth rider of the night, Wall had a few chances to study her fellow cowgirl and know what she needed to do. Once she came speeding into the arena, she rounded the first two barrels with ease and made a quick turn around the third barrel before Foxy did all the work to cross the line. Wall said that the third barrel had been giving her troubles recently, but tonight’s run was about as perfect as she could have hoped for.
“I really wanted to get my third barrel really tight and (Foxy) smoked it tonight,” Wall said, smiling. “I was really proud of the run.”
In bareback riding, Cowley, Wyoming’s JR Vezain and Carthage, Texas’ Tilden Hooper did not have much competition as they were the only two competitors of the night due to no-shows by the other six, likely to travel issues. Hooper made the most of the pared down field and took the top spot of the night and the $100 bonus as he rode Calgary Stampede’s Y Not Crystal for 80.5 points.
And for a guy sitting No. 24 in the world standings and needing to make up some ground for a spot in the National Finals, he’ll take any money he can get.
“That was a young horse and you know when you get on a Calgary they’re really going to try and do something to you and this one was no different,” he said of his ride, which places him in third place overall. “He came out strong, really bucking and I probably should have given him a better ride for some more points but it’s good.”
Hooper also spent some time prior to his ride taking in the new arena at what he called “one of my favorite rodeos around.”
“I love coming here and always seem to have pretty good luck. The crowd’s great, good money, they bring in a lot of good horses here and really go above and beyond. It’s a small town in the middle of nowhere, but it’s dang sure a big-time rodeo.”
Staying at the bucking chutes, Canadian cowboy Layton Green has put together a very successful season and sits No. 4 in the world standings for saddle bronc right now. So it was a little disappointing to him when his first ride on Thursday scored him just 65 points, but he jumped at the chance for a re-ride when it was offered to him.
And Green made the most of his re-ride, as he took on Calgary’s Weary Joke and spurred him to a 85.5 point ride to take the top ride of the night and also move into a tie for first place overall. Weary Joke made it tough on Green out of the chute, jolting him for a few seconds before smoothing out and giving Green a fantastic finish.
“He’s a little harder for the first couple and then after that he just stacked up and bucked,” Green said. “He was a good one to have for a re-ride, that’s for sure.”
Only one bull rider out of nine entries turned in a qualified ride on Thursday, and it was Browning, Montana’s Dakota Louis who took on Corey & Lange’s Cowah Bunga for a rough 72 point ride that featured Louis getting banged and pinned up against a gate for a short second.
In tie-down roping, it was Redmond, Oregon resident Roger Nonella that took home the $100 bonus for the top time of the night, as he tied his calf in 10.4 seconds. His time also put him into a tie for first place overall after his 10.2 in slack earlier in the day.
Then in team roping, it was the duo of Matt Sherwood of Pima, Arizona and Walt Woodard of Stephenville, Texas that roped the best of the night, getting both ends of the steer knotted at 4.7 seconds. Hermiston resident Jake Stanley and his partner Brent Falon of Yakima, Washington registered a no time, as did Pendleton’s Phoenix Everano and his partner David Motes of Tolar, Texas.
Action picks back up on Friday night with Mutton Bustin’ at 7:25 p.m. and then the rodeo begins at 7:45 p.m. sharp.
Contact Eric at email@example.com or 541-966-0839. Follow him on Twitter @ByEricSinger.