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Buechner places second

Cheney's Ryan Gray, who settled for seventh place on Tuesday, is shown during Monday night's winning performance.
 (Robert Click/Special to / The Spokesman-Review)
Cheney's Ryan Gray, who settled for seventh place on Tuesday, is shown during Monday night's winning performance. (Robert Click/Special to / The Spokesman-Review)

Sandpoint cowboy Rowdy Buechner picked up another big check and Ryan Gray of Cheney stayed safe in the bareback riding battle as the National Finals Rodeo reached the midpoint Tuesday night at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Buechner was second in the fifth go-round of bareback, scoring 86 on R.D. Mercer to pick up $12,367.79. Defending world champion Kelly Timberman had an 88 1/2 on River Boat Annie to win the go-round and $15,649.04.

“I feel real blessed,” Buechner said after placing for the third time. “Fortunately, it’s going real good for me.”

Gray was just out of the money, scoring an 82 1/2 on Gus, good for seventh. That was enough to keep him sixth in the average with a total of 408 on five rides.

“I feel good, I’ve been drawing good,” Gray said. “I had a great horse tonight. I kind of spurred over her neck and cost myself a little bit of money. It’s only half over. I had a good round last night. I’m not backing down – I’m ready for the next five.”

The top six scores each night earn a check and the top eight in the average (total points) get paid when the 10-round rodeo concludes Sunday afternoon.

Gray has 408 points, well behind Timberman’s leading 422.

Buechner, who split first and second with Timberman in Sunday’s third go-round and was second on Saturday, is 12th in the average after getting bucked off on Monday. With 11 cowboys covering all five rides, Buechner is well back in the average with 339 points on four head.

It’s the average payoff that will determine the world champion.

“I didn’t come here to ride for the average, I came here to go after the go-rounds,” Buechner said. “It don’t really matter to me if I’m sitting first in the average or last, I’d still ride the same way. I’m just having fun getting on good bucking horses.”

Buechner has won $38,743.99 and has vaulted from 13th entering the NFR to fifth with $107,507.86.

Gray has won $19,687.50 at the Finals and is sitting third in the season-long standings with $114,104.44. Will Lowe, who is 1 1/2 points ahead of Gray in the average, is first with $140,936.43.

Timberman, from Mills, Wyo., is the cowboy making a charge. Entering the Finals in 14th place, he has won almost $43,000 and has jumped into fourth place at $111,422.54.

Gray isn’t concerned with the big picture yet.

“I’m not worried about it at this point. There is still a lot of rodeo left, great horses left,” he said. “I’m not worried about anything except taking care of business, riding good and having a good time, too. It’s been fun – definitely a great experience.”

Saddle bronc riders really struggled, with only three cowboys scoring. Cody DeMoss of Crowville, La., won the go-round with a score of 83.5 on Knight Rocket. Alberta cowboys Rod Warren and Rod Hay tied for second at 76.5. Warren is the only bronc rider to cover all five of his horses.

Bull riders did much better one night after only three stayed aboard. Zeb Latham of Sweet, Idaho, won his third go-round with an 89 1/2 on Louisville Slugger to go with a second after getting bucked off opening night. He tied with Jason McClain of Lewis, Colo. Seven bull riders scored, including Steve Woosley, the only cowboy to make all five rides.

In the timed events, Lee Graves of Calgary and Ryan Jarrett of Summerville, Ga., split first in steer wrestling with 3.4-second runs; California cowboys Wade Wheatley and Kyle Lockett took the team roping for the second time, stretching their steer in 3.9 seconds; Justin Maass of Giddings, Texas, came out on top for the second time in a fast tie-down roping, winning in 7.1 seconds; and Kelly Kaminski of Bellville, Texas, won barrel racing with a run of 14.06.

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