HERMISTON — Try as they might, there was no dethroning the defending bareback riding champion.
Inglis, Manitoba, cowboy Orin Larsen returned to the Farm-City Pro Rodeo on Thursday in an effort to hold onto last year’s bareback riding title, which he did with a score of 85.5 on the back of Uvid Bubbles.
Larsen beat out four other riders, and topped yesterday’s top contender Taylor Broussard, who turned in an 83.
On Thursday, Sherwood, Alberta’s Kody Lamb received an 84.5, Trenten Montero of Winnemucca, Nevada, earned an 80, and Pascal Isabelle of Okotoks, Alberta scored a 76, but there was no defeating Larsen, who currently sits at No. 3 in the Pro Rodeo Cowboy Association World Standings.
“We all just give 110 percent every time we nod our heads,” Larsen said. “Hopefully, we don’t break our jaws, stay on the horse, and get a good score.”
Larsen will pack up and hit the road to Sexton, Missouri, for his next showing, but won’t soon forget his time at Farm-City, where he currently sits atop the leaderboard.
“There’s nothing like the rodeo,” Larsen said. “I love the atmosphere and the camaraderie. I’ve been very fortunate with the way things have turned out so far this year. Hopefully I can keep it going. It’s going to be a long time before I call it quits.”
Only two teams managed to rope their calves during Thursday night’s event, and the top spot was claimed by a margin of just 0.6 seconds.
In the end, Chace and Tyson Thompson, a pair of Munday, Texas brothers, posted the best time at 5 seconds flat, besting Shane Erickson of Terrebone, and Brent Falon of Yakima, Washington, at 5.6.
“This summer’s been tough,” Chace said. “Hopefully this will turn it around. Every night, you’re facing some of the best guys in the world.”
Although the Thompsons are family, this year is their first roping together professionally. Chace ropes the head while Tyson takes care of the heeling.
“Tyson just finished college, and I got some good horses,” Chace said, “so we’ll see how it goes.”
The Thompson brothers were second on the bill, and the following 10 teams failed to rope their calves.
“It’s all about getting a good start, and setting it up for your heeler,” Chace said. “We drew a good steer.”
A 7.5-second time was the mark to beat during Thursday’s tie-down roping competition, and although not a single cowboy could do it, Jake Pratt’s 8.2 second finish was good enough to put him in a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard.
“This morning was a little slow for me,” said the cowboy from Ellnsburg, Washington, “but this was a good draw. No matter what, you just gotta do your job.”
Pratt’s time surpassed a slew of Northwest representation, including Hermiston’s Brad Goodrich (8.7), Echo’s Jeff Coelho (12.4), and Stanfield’s Seth Hopper, who received no time.
“I love this rodeo,” Pratt said. “Northwest rodeos are the best in the world.”
Saddle bronc riding
The Wright family from Milford, Utah, has made a name for itself in the event, and third generation cowboy Rusty Wright is carrying on the family tradition.
Wright, who won the saddle bronc at the 2014 FCPR, scored an 80.5 on the back of Zealous Departure to move into a tie for the lead in the event with Allen Boore.
“I saw my uncle Spencer (Wright) get on him in Houston in March,” Wright said of have a scouting report on his horse. “That horse felt way awesome. I have nothing to complain about. I love coming to Hermiston. The fans are great and they have good horses.”
Though he shares the lead, and 80.5 is a good score, Wright knows there are good horses and cowboys coming up the next two days.
“Hopefully, it sits well to place,” he said. “You never know.”
Wright, 23, pocketed $100,000 in Calgary and sits eighth in the world standings, behind his younger brother Ryder, who has earned a record $190,777 this season.
Canadian cowboy Scott Guenthner is ranked No. 2 in the world standings and he’s headed to his third NFR, but if there still is money to be earned, he’s going to be on the road.
Guenthner turfed his steer in 4.3 seconds Thursday night, edging Stetson Jorgensen by two-tenths of a second to earn go money and the $100 bonus.
“Right now is the time where every dollar and every penny counts,” he said. “If you can’t place in the overall, go money is good. I had a good steer. I saw him earlier and knew he would be good.”
Guenthner was making just his second trip to Hermiston, but he liked it so much last year that he made a return trip.
“They have a nice facility and great crowds,” he said.
Jace Melvin of Fort Pierce, South Dakota, had a time of 5.1, and added to his first run of 4.1, he took the lead on two at 9.2 seconds.
Once again, the bulls were the star of the show. Of the seven men who got on the back of a bull, only two turned in a legal ride. Wednesday night, it was bulls 9, cowboys 0.
Clayton Sellars of Fruitland Park, Florida, turned in a score of 85 points on Red Beard, and leads the event.
Dalan Duncan of Ballard, Utah, turned his 8-second ride into 82 points on the back of Crocodile Rock.
Jennifer Barrett of Bulh, Idaho, had the hot run of the night with a time of 17.48 seconds.
Brittney Barnett of Montana leads the event with a time of 17.01, turned in Wednesday night.