PENDLETON — Roger Nonella sat atop his horse, rope ready to go in his right hand, and backed into the starting box.
The Redmond cowboy was the final competitor in the calf roping to take a run in Friday’s performance at the Pendleton Round-Up. With a 12.4 second time in his first run, Nonella knew he needed to be under 13.5 seconds to guarantee a spot in Saturday’s finals. He said he didn’t feel any pressure until he chased after his calf across the green grass, roped the animal but then stumbled a bit trying to get the tie down.
But even with the stumble, Nonella still recorded a 12.6 second time that was enough to get him to Saturday. After his ride was complete, Nonella was ecstatic to be coming back.
“It’s awesome, because I love this place. If they had this once a month every month I’d be here,” he said. “It’s tough here, which is why it’s one of my favorite rodeos out here because it’s a cowboy’s rodeo. The calves go just like on your pasture, if you chase them you don’t know which way they’re going to go you just have to cowboy up and go about it.”
Nonella also clinched a spot in the finals in steer roping on Friday. He finished with a slower time of 21.9 seconds and an average of 43.7 on two seconds-plus, but troubles all week left a shortage of ropers with two qualified times and allowed Nonella to slide into Saturday.
Dakota Eldridge (Elko, Nevada) had the top calf roping time on Friday and finished third in the second round with 9.6 seconds, earning him a $2,659 payday. But Taylor Santos (Creston, California) was the only other calf roper to clinch a spot in the finals with his 10.7 second run on Friday. It’s Santos’ second consecutive trip to the Round-Up finals for the second-year pro.
Santos said afterward he didn’t really think about what time he needed or any sort of game plan, because roping at the Round-Up is a challenge no matter how prepared you are.
“You just have to react,” he said. “You can have somewhat of a game plan at this rodeo, but there are so many different variables that at the end of the day you just have to react. But it’s cool because we don’t get to come to a lot of rodeos like this that’s on the grass, with that kind of a box and the lane so it’s darn sure exciting and it’s an adrenaline rush.”
The ropers weren’t the only ones feeling pressure on Friday, as the other six events all featured competitors vying for those coveted 12 spots on Saturday.
One of those was La Grande bulldogger John Green, who hopped on his horse and prepared for his run, needing to go faster than 9.0 seconds to clinch a spot for Saturday.
And with too many friends and family in the stands to count, Green gave everybody a show as he grabbed his steer and wrestled it onto its side in a quick 7.2 seconds. It had Green fired up, putting him in third place in the average with a time of 13.7 seconds on two.
“It’s outstanding,” he said emphatically. “You can always just hope for the best here because it’s pretty treacherous. I’ve won a little in the past, but to have some luck and make the short round finally means a lot to me. I have all the support in the world here, good vibes, so we’ll try to put it all together for tomorrow.”
Green, who was actually raised in Pendleton and played football for the Buckaroos on the very same grass infield in the late 1990s, said he did not have much of a plan going into his run, other than just doing the basics and hoping it works out.
“For me, I just want to catch my steer straight and keep my feet in front of me wide,” he said. “And everything else just kind of comes into play after that. But if you can do those two things, you can have a little bit more luck but there are just so many variables here ... you can do everything right but still get in a bind pretty fast.”
In saddle bronc, CoBurn Bradshaw (Beaver, Utah) was the very last rider out of the chutes Friday and needed at least a 79 score to make it to Saturday. Bradshaw, currently fifth in the world standings, matched up with Calico Girl from Outlaw Buckers and just barely made the cut as he scored 80.5 points to take the last qualification spot for his first finals trip in three seasons competing at the Round-Up.
“It felt really good and I was glad it was enough,” Bradshaw said. “I knew it would be close.”
Ryder Wright (Milford, Utah), the youngest of the bronc-riding Wright family, had the best ride of the day as he scored 84.5 points on Sankey Rodeo’s Pack Train to finish second in the long round. Dylan Henson (Bloomfield, New Mexico) also earned a spot on Saturday with an 82 point ride on Sankey’s Outlaw Tunes.
Another so-so day in bareback brought only nine riders to the chutes and just four of them earned qualified rides. The best of the bunch was Redmond’s David Peebles who rode Sankey’s Pick Up Sticks for 84 points to finish second in the round.
“It felt outstanding. It was an awesome horse of Sankey’s and I’ve seen her before,” Peebles said. “She just came out and felt real good from the first jump to the last jump. I was excited she stayed close on the dirt ... it worked out great and it was fun.”
JR Vezain (Cowley, Wyoming) was the only other rider to qualify for Saturday in bareback with 81.5 points on Korkow Rodeo’s Feather Fluffer and finished fifth in the round.
Bull riders saw the bulls get better of them on Friday, as just eight of the 18 riders that competed earned qualified rides. After a run of low-70s, Guthrie Murray (Miami, Oklahoma) and Nic Lica (Garden City, Michigan) gave the crowd something to cheer for with 80.5 and 82.5 scores respectively.
Lica was especially happy with his ride on Hoss from Sankey’s Rodeo, as the 50th-ranked bull rider in the world standings made the finals in his very first trip to the Round-Up, which he said is already “one of the coolest rodeos I’ve ever been to.”
And at Lica’s last stop in Fort Madison, Iowa, on Sept. 7-9 he was injured on his ride, so getting a big score was a big relief.
“Last week I got knocked out and had to get some stitches and haven’t been on a bull since,” Lica said. “So to get a bull rode at a big rodeo like this is a lot of relief off my shoulders ... I heard the bull really bucked a lot to the left and figured it was a good one to have and it was.”
Steer ropers and team ropers had another tough performance on Saturday as just four teams and three solo ropers out of a combined 24 scored a time. The top team was Charly Crawford (Prineville, Oregon) and Joseph Harrison (Overbrook, Oklahoma) who scored in 8.2 seconds, with Dustin Bird (Cut Bank, Montana) and Russel Cardoza (Terrebone) next at 10.5 seconds.
Kim Ziegelgruber was the top steer roper with 12.8 seconds that earned him second place in the second round paired with a $3,277 payday.
Finishing off the day was perhaps the most exciting group of barrel racers of the three performances, as two racers earned their way into the money and one more qualified for Saturday. Teri Bangart (Olympia, Washington) and her 13-year-old horse Goodwin set the tone early as the pair made clean turns of the barrels and sped down the final stretch to finish in 28.68 seconds — the second-fastest time of the week. This is the third time Bangert has tackled the Round-Up with Goodwin, and she wasn’t sure how he would he would handle the “Green Mile” again but she said she couldn’t be happier with the run.
“This horse is amazing,” Bangert said. “He just runs this pattern so well, but when you come back a third time you think ‘Oh boy can he do the same thing?’ but he did.”
After Bangert, Cheyenne Allan (Mabton, Washington) ran the course in 29.13 seconds and then Italy Sheehan (Shoshone, Idaho) sped around the grass on her horse in 28.95 seconds to grab a spot for Saturday.
“I love watching girls make great times,” Bangert said of Friday’s racers. “I just feel very fortunate that I’m here and I placed where I did.”
Saturday’s finals start at 1:15 p.m. sharp at the Round-Up Arena.
First round: 1. Jake Vold, 85 points on Wayne Vold Rodeo’s Dancing Queen, $6,053; 2. David Peebles, 84, $4,641; 3. Shane O’Connell, 83, $3,430; 4. Orin Larsen, 82.5, $2,220; 5. J.R. Vezain, 81.5, $1,412; 6. Tim O’Connell, 80.5, $1,009; 7. (tie) Justin Miller and Caleb Bennett, 80, $706 each.
First round: 1. Cody Cabral, 5.3 seconds, $3,849; 2. (tie) Kody Dollery and Nick Guy, 5.7, $3,096 each; 4. John Green, 6.5, $2,343; 5. (tie) Cameron Morman and Josh Peek, 6.6, $1,590 each; 7. Colin Wolfe, 6.8, $837; 8. Dirk Tavenner, 7.1, $335. Second round: 1. Tom Lewis, 5.0 seconds, $3,849; 2. Timmy Sparing, 5.4, $3,347; 3. Cody Kroul, 5.5, $2,845; 4. Clayton Hass, 5.7, $2,343; 5. Cody Cabral, 6.2, $1,841; 6. Dakota Eldridge, 6.3, $1,339; 7. (tie) Travis Taruscio and Blaine Jones, 6.4, $586 each. Average leaders: 1. Cody Cabral, 11.5 seconds on two head; 2. Tom Lewis, 12.5; 3. John Green, 13.7; 4. Clayton Hass, 13.8; 5. Blaine Jones, 14.3; 6. Nick Guy, 14.5.
First round: 1. Clayton Hass/John Robertson, 5.6 seconds, $4,294 each; 2. Tyler Milligan/Shank Edwards, 5.7, $3,734; 3. Riley Minor/Brady Minor, 6.1, $3,174; 4. Austin Stafford/Dayton Stafford, 6.2, $2,613; 5. Jesse Northrop/Kurtis Barry, 6.3, $2,053; 6. David Temple/Tee Jay Brown, 6.4, $1,493; 7. Justin Farber/Garrett Busby, 6.7, $933; 8. (tie) Rhett Anderson/Brady Ramone, Logan Olson/Kyle Lockett and Bryce Palmer/Bo Patzke, 6.8, $124 each. Second round: 1. Jason Stewart/Bucky Campbell, 5.4 seconds, $4,294 each; 2. Blake Teixeira/Monty Joe Petska, 5.5, $3,734; 3. Erich Rogers/Cory Petska, 5.6, $3,174; 4. (tie) Brandon Beers/Cesar de la Cruz and Chad Masters/Travis Graves, 5.7, $2,333 each; 6. Jake Stanley/Brent Falon, 5.8, $1,493; 7. Chris McKoen/Jason Duby, 6.0, $933; 8. Shay Carroll/Nano Garza, 6.3, $373. Average leaders: 1. Jake Stanley/Brent Falon, 13.7 seconds on two head; 2. Riley Minor/Brady Minor, 13.8; 3. Chad Masters/Travis Graves, 14.2; 4. Richard Eiguren/Chase Hansen, 14.4; 5. McKennan Buckner/Bill Justus, 14.7; 6. Brett Sheehan/Jared Parke, 15.2.
Saddle bronc riding
First round: 1. Hardy Braden, 85 points on Sankey Pro Rodeo & Robinson Bulls’ Sheridan Wyo’s Tango, $4,989; 2. Ryder Wright, 84.5, $3,825; 3. Brody Cress, 83, $2,827; 4. Sterling Crawley, 82.5, $1,829; 5. (tie) Dylan Henson and Isaac Diaz, 82, $998 each; 7. (tie) Clay Elliott and CoBurn Bradshaw, 81.5, $582 each.
First round: 1. J.C. Malone, 8.5 seconds, $3,597; 2. Tuf Cooper, 8.7, $3,128; 3. Hunter Herrin, 9.6, $2,659; 4. Shane Hanchey, 9.9, $2,190; 5. (tie) Jake Pratt and Chad Finley, 10.3, $1,486 each; 7. Justin Smith, 10.6, $782; 8. Jordan Ketscher, 10.7, $313. Second round: 1. Alwin Bouchard, 9.3 seconds, $3,597; 2. Shane Hanchey, 9.5, $3,128; 3. Dakota Eldridge, 9.6, $2,659; 4. Trevor Brazile, 9.7, $2,190; 5. Matt Shiozawa, 10.0, $1,720; 6. Jason Schaffer, 10.4, $1,251; 7. (tie) Taylor Santos and Brad Goodrich, 10.7, $547 each. Average leaders: 1. Shane Hanchey, 19.4 seconds on two head; 2. Hunter Herrin, 20.8; 3. Ace Slone, 22.8; 4. Matt Shiozawa, 22.9; 5. (tie) Brad Goodrich and Jordan Ketscher, 23.0 each.
First round: 1. Kimmie Wall, 28.54 seconds, $4,850; 2. Teri Bangart, 28.68, $4,157; 3. Sydni Blanchard, 28.81, $3,464; 4. Jackie Ganter, 28.91, $3,002; 5. (tie) Italy Sheehan and Ericka Nelson, 28.95, $2,079 each; 7. Courtney Frazier, 28.96, $1,386; 8. Jody Tucker, 28.97, $924; 9. (tie) Nicole Laurence and Ari-Anna Flynn, 29.08, $577 each.
First round: 1. Tuf Cooper, 13.1 seconds, $3,769; 2. Shay Good, 13.8, $3,277; 3. Trevor Brazile, 14.0, $2,786; 4. Will Gasperson, 14.8, $2,294; 5. Tim Tillard, 15.4, $1,802; 6. Dave Sedar, 15.6, $1,311; 7. Roger Branch, 15.8, $819; 8. Shorty Garten, 15.9, $328. Second round: 1. Trevor Brazile, 12.7 seconds, $3,769; 2. Kim Ziegelgruber, 12.8, $3,277; 3. (tie) Jason Stewart and Quay Howard, 13.1, $2,540 each; 5. Shay Good, 13.3, $1,802; 6. Cody Lee, 13.5, $1,311; 7. Bill Benson, 14.5, $819; 8. Russell Cardoza, 16.2, $328. Average leaders: 1. Trevor Brazile, 26.7 seconds on two head; 2. Shay Good, 27.1; 3. Will Gasperson, 33.2; 4. Chris Glover, 35.1; 5. Todd Dickson, 36.7; 6. Gabe Richardson, 38.5.
First round: 1. Joe Frost, 84.5 points on Korkow Rodeos’ Fire Dog, $4,975; 2. Steve Woolsey, 84, $3,814; 3. (tie) Chase Robbins, Ruger Piva, Nic Lica, Elliot Jacoby and Riley Blankenship, 82.5, $1,459 each; 8. Ty Wallace, 81.5, $497.