It’s hard to decide who should have gotten the steer wrestling title Saturday at the Pendleton Round-Up.

Sterling Lambert posted the best time on three head with a time of 16.3 seconds, but his hazer, Clayton Morrison has hazed for the past three Round-Up champions.

“It is unreal,” Lambert said. “I thought if I got out of the barrier OK that I would be fine. The horse did a good job, and you can’t beat that guy (Morrison) on the other side.”

Morrison also hazed for 2017 champion Clayton Haas, and Nick Guy in 2016.

Lambert, who has won go-round money in Pendleton, and reached the finals in the past, won his first title.

“It hasn’t hit me yet,” the Nevada cowboy said. “It sure is exciting. This is one of the most prestigious rodeos, and it has so much history. It’s so awesome to be a part of it.”

Lambert will not make the NFR this year, but the stack of cash he won Saturday will help the newlywed start married life with his wife Noel on the right track.

“This is the most money I have earned at a PRCA rodeo, he said of his $9,273 payday.

Bareback riding

Orin Larsen went over the rails to the cheers of 18,000 people Saturday when he started his victory ride. The Canadian cowboy, who posted an 88.5-point ride on Yipee Kibitz in the finals, finished with a score of 168 on two for his first Pendleton title and a payday of nearly $8,000.

“I have never done either,” Larson said of the victory ride or the win. “I have wanted to win this rodeo for years. I’ve been coming since 2011. I’m pretty excited.”

Larsen left Pendleton after his first ride yielded 79.5 points Thursday. He did not think he would make the finals, but with four guys turning in 79.5-pount rides, he made the cut.

“I was in Utah with a plane ticket to go home (Nebraska),” he said. “This is a way better deal.”

Larsen ranks fourth in the world standings, and will make his fourth consecutive trip to the NFR in December.

“Every little bit helps,” he said. “Big or small.”

Saddle bronc riding

With three Wrights in the finals, odds were pretty good one of them would come away with the title.

That one would be Jesse Wright, whose score of 168 on two topped the field that included his twin brother Jake, his nephew Ryder, and brother-in-law CoBurn Bradshaw.

“It’s pretty awesome,” said Jesse Wright, who also won the title in 2015. “Winning this rodeo, even though I’ve done it before, feels like the first time.”

Wright, who had an 83 to get into the finals, turned in an 85 on Marquee on Saturday and pocketed more than $7,600.

“That’s the third time I have been on that horse, but the first time I have gotten a score on him,” Wright said. “He is a really good horse. They win a lot of rodeos on him.”

Wright, who has made seven trips to the NFR, will miss out this year after sitting out two months with a broken collar bone.

“This is a good way to end the summer,” he said.

Bull riding

There were a lot of good scores in the bull riding during the preliminary rounds, but come the final round Saturday, the bulls were fighting to see whose name would go up on the wall outside of the stadium.

Jordan Spears, whose first bull Hot Axe tried to climb out of the chute, got a second bull named Mr. Mustachio. He then went for an 8-second ride for a score of 86 points.

It would be the only legal ride in the round, giving the Terrebonne cowboy, the title and a pocket full of money.

“I’d been on that bull four times and rode him three,” he said. “He is an honest bull and gives you a chance to win. I’ve always had good luck on him. I needed to win Pendleton to give me a chance for the NFR.”

He has been to the NFR three times, but this is his first Pendleton win.

“The fact that you will have your name on the wall for a year is awesome,” he said. “I will definitely be stopping and taking a picture with it.”

Calf roping

Shane Hanchey set out to defend his world champion calf roping title, but not if J.C. Malone could help it.

Malone, of Plain City, Utah, claimed the Pendleton Round-Up trophy after tying his calf in just 8.6 seconds — nearly three seconds faster than Hanchey, who finished in 11.4

“It’s unbelievable,” said Malone, 33. “This is a prestige rodeo. Everyone wants to win the buckle.”

Malone got his PRCA card in 2004, and even won the same event at the 2015 Round-Up. He says that experience gave him the confidence to come through with the win.

“It takes a lot to get to this level,” he said. “I’ve exceeded my expectations.”

And it wasn’t just Malone that had a good day — his horse Lucy won the Round-Up’s Horse of the Year, all while carrying a mare. She’s due in May.

He walked away with $9,241, and will travel to his home state to finish off the season.

“This is a good way to cap it all off,” he said.

Team roping

This year’s team roping award went to a match made on the fly.

Chad Masters and Tyler Worley roped their steer in 5 seconds flat to win the coveted prize, but they didn’t originally intend on riding together.

“Both of our partners didn’t want to rope on the grass,” Worley said. “It’s slick if you don’t have a horse that’s used to it.”

Worley says both of their partners have competed at the Round-Up before. But this year, they missed out.

“This is a huge blessing,” Worley said. “It’s awesome - all of my heroes have been here.”

Worley will collect $8,372 and go back to his Berryville, Ark. home to visit with his mom and dad for a couple of days before competing in some Texas rodeos, while Masters will reunite with his original partner for the NFR finals.

“Coming in, it was real tight,” Masters said. “I wasn’t going for the win, but it went that way. I felt I was late, but that just gave me the hustle I needed.”

It was a close match - Masters and Worley took the title by just 0.1 seconds, edging out Colton Campbell and Jordan Ketscher, and Garret Rogers and Cesar de la Cruz, who were tied at 6.1 seconds.

“Yeah, our partners mentioned they didn’t want to come with us this year,” he said. “But they’re good guys. They’ll be happy for us.”

Steer roping

On Friday, Chris Glover won the steer roping for the day. The next day, he was the champion.

It was a daunting task — the Keenesburg, Colo. cowboy was set to ride against the six-million dollar king of cowboys, Trevor Brazile. Not only that, but slack leader Chet Herren and Cody Lee both topped his 17.9-second finals time with 14.9 and 16.7 runs, respectively.

But with Glover’s 47.5 average, he beat the odds and emerged victorious, claiming both the top prize, and the bragging rights of being the only cowboy to eclipse Brazile, a 23-time world champ, who finished with a 48.2-second average.

“There’s nothing better,” said Glover, 58. “I knew I had a chance going in.”

This year was his second steer roping Round-Up win, a title which he originally took back in 2013. Glover says he dedicates this year’s win to his father Sonny, who taught him everything he knew, and his granddaughter Riley Maddison, who he gifted his former rodeo horse to. He collected $9,841 worth of Round-Up prize money.

“I’m very fortunate. My body’s still good,” he said. “I’m gonna keep going till there ain’t no more left in me.”

Barrel racing

Cheyenne Allan was on fire.

The barrel racer not only won the Round-Up championship, but also completed one of the Round-Up’s fastest runs, clocking in at 28.62 seconds.

And that’s saying quite a bit — the rodeo grounds were red hot on Saturday. Kacey Gartner got the fastest run of the afternoon with 28.47 seconds, and Friday’s winner Jolene Douglas-Hoburg finished in 28.76 seconds.

But it was Allan’s 57.38-second overall average that earned her the top spot.

Her win was more than just that — she said it was a like a dream come true. As the Round-Up came to a close, family, friends, and fans swarmed Allan for celebration, pictures, and autographs. The Mabton, Wash. cowgirl has been competing at the Round-Up since 2001, and is now 61 years old. She set the arena record during her debut year at 28.01 seconds. This year, she won on the back of Molly, a horse she bred and trained herself.

“This was a miracle,” she said. “This was the first time I’ve done this phenomenally at Pendleton. I can’t believe it. This is the biggest accomplishment of my career — of my life.”

Allan says it’s good to be one of the older competitors — it gave her more experience, patience, and better horsemanship, allowing her to best cowgirls half her age.

This year’s Round-Up closed out her 2018 season, and she’ll enjoy a $10,888 payday, courtesy of Pendleton. What a way to go out.

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