Bear Pascoe played seven years in the NFL and owns a Super Bowl ring, but in the rodeo arena, he is a rookie.
The 6-foot-5, 265-pound Pascoe didn’t look like a rookie Thursday, turfing his white-and-brown steer in 4.1 seconds to post the top time of the day in the steer wrestling event at the Pendleton Round-Up.
“I was pretty stoked,” said the California cowboy, who took over the lead in the second round. “I had no time on my first one, so to make a solid run felt great.”
This is Pascoe’s first trip to the Pendleton Round-Up and he’s enjoyed every second.
“Competing on grass is a lot of fun,” said Pascoe, who is ranked fifth in the rookie standings. “Ever since we have been up in the Northwest, we have had some better times.”
Pascoe, 32, played college football at Fresno State, then played five years for the New York Giants, winning a Super Bowl in 2012. He then played one year with the Atlanta Falcons, and finished his NFL career with three games with the Detroit Lions.
“I grew up in a ranch family and team roped when I was younger,” Pascoe said. “Steer wrestling was something I wanted to do, but I also wanted to play in the NFL. I laid off rodeo in high school and college to pursue my dream of football. The good Lord blessed me with a great career.”
While the NFL was intense, Pascoe said he gets the same rush taking down a steer.
“The excitement is about the same,” he said. “Football has its lulls in the game, but when you nod your head, it’s a full go. It is a rush, the same like when I played football.”
Bareback riding: Blaine Kaufman hadn’t planned on riding in Pendleton this year, but with a family wedding in Washington on Friday, he put his name on the list, then waited to see what horse he would draw.
When CC Valley showed up, so did Kaufman. Together, they put together an 85-point ride and shot to the top of the standings.
“I had her two years ago here,” Kaufman said. “This time was better than the last. She broke my rigging handle last time and I was holding on by my fingertips.”
Kaufman overtook Ty Breuer, who had an 82 on Wednesday. His score should hold up for a spot in the 12-man final Saturday.
“I was hoping to be 80-81.5,” Kaufman said. “I thought that would be enough to get me to the short round. I have been very blessed with some good draws this year.”
Saddle bronc riding: The Wright family owns this event and Thursday was no different.
Jake Wright posted an 85-point ride on Dancehall to take the lead in the event from Isaac Diaz, who had an 83.5 on Wednesday.
“It’s always tough,” Wright said of his success. “You have to draw the top end (horses) and then you have to ride well. I hadn’t been on him before, but I was happy to have him.”
Wright, who was the Pendleton champion in 2013, had a little competition Thursday. His twin brother Jesse (2016 Pendleton champ) turned in an 83 on Warped Logic, his brother-in-law Coburn Bradshaw had an 81.5 on Chucky, and Wade Sundell scored 83.5 on Feather Fluffer.
“It’s fun to push each other,” Jake Wright said about his relatives. “You have to bring your A game.”
To top it off, Jake Wright’s nephew Ryder had an 81.5-point ride on Wednesday and is tied for fifth with Jesse.
Other Wrights winning titles in Pendleton were Cody in 2010 and Spencer in 2014.
Bull riding: Washington cowboy Shane Proctor had the top mark of the day with an 81-point ride on a yellow bull named Hogs and Heifers, who showed no mercy to a PBR cowboy Monday night.
Proctor sits fourth in the standings, which is led by Koby Radley, who had an 85.5 on Wednesday.
Dustin Boquet, who sits third in the world standings, had an 80 on Iron Tiger, and is tied for fifth.
Bo Pickett’s first Round-Up is looking good.
After a series of no-time rides during Thursday’s calf roping event, the only time Pickett had to top was Bailey Moore’s 16.8 second run — and he beat it by nearly 6 seconds.
Finishing in 10.9 seconds, the 21-year-old Caldwell, Idaho, cowboy took the top spot for the day. Combined with a 10.0-second Tuesday slack time, he’s in good shape to make the short go on Saturday along with Shane Hanchey, who is currently leading the Round-Up overall at 20.2 seconds.
“The short round can go one of two ways,” Pickett said. “The draw helps — a lot of those guys out there didn’t draw so good. I got lucky. I was good on my first one today. I would’ve liked my calf to be a little straighter, though.”
Pickett says his rookie year has been a major learning experience, and hopes to hone his skills for Saturday’s final event.
“It’s been a frustrating year,” he said. “I haven’t been winning what I needed to win. There’s been a big learning curve so far this year. I want to finish strong in Pendleton.”
Throckmorton, Texas, ropers Cody Snow and Wesley Thorp can add the Pendleton Round-Up to their list of rodeo wins this year.
After winning events in Texas, Oklahoma and Wyoming, the duo took their steer down in 5.1 seconds on Thursday afternoon.
“Hopefully we’ll draw another good steer on Saturday,” said Snow, 21. “We wanna make the same run as we did today. We had a really good steer — no issues.”
This is Snow and Thorp’s second year roping together, and Snow’s third year at the Pendleton Round-Up. The pair used to rope jackpots back at home when they were young.
“This is my favorite rodeo because it’s so laid back,” Snow said. “I always have fun here, and when you have fun, you’re gonna do good.”
Snow is No. 7 in the team roping world standings, and Thorp currently stands at No. 11. They are just 0.1 seconds behind 2010 team roping champs Trevor Brazile and Patrick Smith, in the second go-round, who finished in 4.9 seconds.
Chet Herren set the time to beat during with a slack run of 11.4 seconds, but Thursday’s steer ropers had a tough time even qualifying.
A total of nine cowboys failed to take down their steers with qualified runds. Pendleton native Jim Ward came close, but his horse made a run for it as soon as he dismounted, hauling the steer to the other side of the arena. Ogallala, Nebraska’s Will McBride almost had it, but tripped and fell over the steer as his horse continued to pull it along.
It wasn’t until Edmond, Oklahoma’s Kim Ziegelgruber, the third-to-last rider of the event, that a steer was successfully roped. Ziegelgruber finished in 18.9 seconds, and was immediately unseated by Durkee, Oregon’s Howdy McGinn, with a 13.2-second time.
“It’s not common to have an outcome like today,” McGinn said. “It was the luck of the draw for me. My steer handled good and tied easy.”
A penalty-free event resulted in close competition on Thursday afternoon.
In the end, Shoshone, Idaho, cowgirl Italy Sheehan came out on top, crossing the finish line in 29.05 seconds.
Sheehan barely surpassed Mindy Goemmer’s run by 0.4 seconds. Cindy Woods also finished strong with a 29.29-second race.
“It was a little wild,” Sheehan said of the close race. “All that matters is that we raced fast. It was a hell of a run.”
Thursday was Sheehan’s fifth Round-Up, and she says it’s as exciting as ever.
“I’m back with a vengeance,” she said. “It’s scary as sin here — when you’re in the arena, it’s hard to decide whether you want to run the grass or dirt first. It’s a funny approach. You just have to go for it.”