Mother Nature is as important as the luck of the draw when it comes to the General Store Wrangler Prorodeo Classic.
That’s why the three-day Professional Rodeo Cowboy’s Association event at the Arena is dominated by rough stock riders and not timed-event cowboys who have to haul their horses over potentially dangerous roads.
The rodeo begins tonight at 8, headlined by bareback riders.
Clint Corey, a 13-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier and 1991 champion from Kennewick, tops the list. Corey is fresh off claiming his ninth consecutive championship on the Columbia River Circuit.
Hot on his heels was Matt Weishoff of Molalla, Ore., who is also up tonight. Jed McKinlay of Colbert, another top circuit cowboy, competes tonight, along with NFR veteran Bob Logue of Greeley, Colo.
Defending champion team roper Brent Palmer of Milton-Freewater, Ore., makes his run tonight, although he has changed partners. Tom White of Toppenish, Wash., replaces Curtis Pederson of Hermiston, Ore.
Two-time team roping champion Troy Frazier of Lowden, Wash., is also up, paired with Wade Jess of Grand Coulee. Frazier won in 1994 with Shane Crossley and in 1996 with Bucky Campbell. Frazier and Campbell set the Arena and rodeo record with a 6-second run.
Crossley, of Hermiston, Ore., is entered Sunday with Jim Randle of High River, Alberta, and Campbell, from Prosser, goes Saturday with Mike Fuller of Clarkston.
Fuller won the Columbia River Circuit championship teamed with Campbell at the Finals earlier this month in Yakima.
Another factor that can limit the contestant list is the National Western Rodeo, a 12-day show that began Wednesday in Denver. Some cowboys with conflicts will choose the more lucrative Denver rodeo.
Bull riders take center stage for Saturday’s 8 p.m. performance.
Wade Leslie of Moses Lake, the only cowboy to score a perfect 100 back in 1991, is up, along with Rob Sweeney of Deer Park, who won this rodeo in 1994 when it was still in the Coliseum and again in 1996, the first year in the Arena.
There have been nine bull rides in the 80s at this rodeo and Sweeney has two, an 82 in 1994 and an 85 in 1996, the second-best score. The record is 87, established last year by Montana cowboy Kevin Nordahl. Nordahl, who also placed second in steer wrestling to earn a record total of $2,426.04, is not entered.
Also on tap is Dan Porter of Deer Lodge, Mont., who won the Montana Circuit championship earlier this month.
Two defending champions also compete Saturday, bareback rider Joe Ketter of Roy, Wash., and saddle bronc rider Todd McKay of Fossil, Ore. Roy scored an 80 last year, tying for the best bareback ride in the five-year history of the rodeo, while McKay set a bronc riding record with a 79.
The rodeo wraps up Sunday at 2:30 with a good cross section.
Two Montana bareback riders, Scott Lund of Bozeman and Shawn Vant of Great Falls, are scheduled to ride fresh from splitting first place in Phoenix. Both picked up checks of more than $1,800.
In saddle bronc, Gary Alger, who won the 1995 rodeo and finished second on the Columbia River Circuit, is entered. Bull rider Hank Reece, the Columbia River champion from Prineville, Ore., is up in the same section as Blake Swaggart of Forest Grove, Ore., who won the rodeo in 1993 with a score of 84.
Steve Currin of Heppner, Ore., the defending steer wrestling champion, is up, facing Sam Kayser of Ellensburg, who won the inaugural rodeo in 1993.
Jerome Robinson of Western Trails Rodeo in Fort Collins, Colo., is the producer. Also bringing stock is the Double J Rodeo Company of Brandon, Neb., and Sankey Rodeo Company of Cody, Wyo.
The novelty act is Jerry Wayne Olson of Belle Fourche, S.D., and his trained buffalo, Chief.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: TICKETS Prorodeo Classic tickets are $10, $12 (general admission) and $16 (VIP). Contact G&B; Select-A-Seat outlets.
A brave girl jumps from the rocks on the west side of Tubbs Hill as her two friends watch. (Don Sausser/Facebook photo)
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