Peek performance

Josh Peek of Pueblo, Colo., competes in tie-down roping Saturday at the Pendleton Round-Up. Peek won the East Oregonian All-around trophy.<br><i>Staff photo by E.J. Harris</i>

Josh Peek was about to blow out of town early Saturday afternoon when someone suggested he wait around a few minutes.

The delay was worth it, as the No. 4 cowboy in the world claimed the Round-Up's top prize - the all-around title - after fighting hard for two winning times in calf roping and steer wrestling Friday afternoon.

Vin Fisher Jr. could have derailed Peek's chances, but Fisher failed to win enough money in the short round for steer roping, giving Peek his first Round-Up win.

"It's amazing," Peek said. "It's a cowboys' rodeo. It's a dream of mine. I've always wanted to win Pendleton."

Peek turned in three consistent efforts in calf roping, one of his main events, including 10.5 seconds in the short round.

"I really had a good week. It was kind of rough," Peek said. "My horse was a little tight in the first round, kind of drug off in the second round. I just kept fighting back and was able to win a little bit of money."

Despite not making the short round in steer wrestling after breaking the barrier too early in slack, Peek responded yesterday by flipping his steer in a blazing 5.6 seconds, beating Olin Hannum by .10 seconds for the day's best time.

"I love the steer wrestling," Peek said. "It's a hard event. I love the grass just because it is different.?It is a lot tougher. In the bulldogging, you just have to do everything right and wait for those steers to kind of be in the right position.?I've always had really good timing and that's what helps me here on the grass."

Peek gave credit to the horse he used this week, an animal nicknamed?"Mr. Pendleton," who Peek said was a key to his success and a particular favorite of many cowboys.

"I can't say enough about my horse," he said. "He's an awesome horse on the grass. He's good in the tie-down roping - just a very good calf-roping horse."

As a student of rodeo history, Peek took special pleasure in his win at the Round-Up, reknowned as one of the most "old-fashioned" rodeos, with no video replay or other modern accoutrements.

"This rodeo, for 100 years, the nostalgia behind it is awesome," he said. "It's a guy that's able to come out here no matter what the odds, keep competing no matter how far you get knocked down.?There's always a chance. It's exciting. I love rodeo, it's getting better and better each year."

For his trouble, Peek won a load of Pendleton-specific prizes. Among the keepsakes are the all-around saddle made by Severe Brothers Saddlery, an official trophy buckle, several items from Pendleton?Woolen Mills and the "Let'er Buck" Trophy, sponsored by the?East Oregonian.

There will be little rest for Peek, who has several more rodeos before the PRCA Finals in Las Vegas in December. He said that for the first time in almost two years he is healthy at this late point in the season and looking to ride the momentum of Saturday's win all the way to the finals.

"I got real sick for a year and a half," he said. "I'm back up to 195 pounds. I'm solid and I'm healthy and I'm really feeling good."

Before heading off for a long drive to Albuquerque,?NM and Rodeo?New Mexico, Peek touched on why he's always dreamed of winning in Pendleton and what a Round-Up win means to him.

"Cowboys a hundred years ago have won at this deal," he said. "That's pretty thrilling, to be in a class with Trevor Brazile and all-around cowboys that have always done good at this rodeo.?It's neat to finally achieve a goal."

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