The Fort Hays State University rodeo team had its most successful weekend of the season at its home rodeo, which marked the end of the Central Plains Region’s season this past weekend.
Not only did more FHSU members qualify for the short-go at the this rodeo than at any other 2009-2010 event, but many on the team also had their best showing of the year, with some just barely missing out on Sunday’s final round.
Four FHSU cowboys qualified for the short-go. Junior Bret Daly split first in the long round with a time of 4.6 seconds in the steer wrestling, freshman Gage Blair and junior Adam Stegman were second in the long round with a time of 6.7 in team roping, and freshman Cort Chittick finished 10th in the long-go in calf roping with a time of 12.2.
The FHSU Rodeo marked the first time that Daly and Chittick made the short-go this season, as well as the first time Blair and Adam made it together. Blair qualified once with a different partner.
“I had a good hazer, and I had a really good steer,” Daly said. “That was basically it.”
Although nobody else had been able to make a clean run on the steer that Daly drew, he and his hazer were able to get the job done.
“Everybody had run past him,” Daly said. “My hazer and I got together before the rodeo and figured out how to get that steer to run over to me instead of having to make me run over to him.”
In the short-go, Daly couldn’t quite get his steer on the ground quick enough, and stopped the clock in 8.1 seconds. He finished sixth in the average.
Blair and Stegman just recently started roping together for the spring rodeos. After their fast run in the long-go, they couldn’t help but ride tall as they left the arena. They were sitting in first, but a team later bumped them down to second.
“We were still happy with second because we knew we had a good shot in the short round,” Blair said.
The team had another quick run in the short-go, but a broken barrier added 10 seconds to their time, leaving them with a 17.1. After watching the film, Blair said he barely broke out.
“It was just by a few inches,” Blair said.
Had the team not broken out, the two would have won the whole rodeo. Nevertheless, the team still finished the weekend third in the average.
“It felt pretty good to make short-go, and it gave me something to look forward to going into the season next year,” Stegman said.
Blair and Stegman plan to rope together this summer and team up for college rodeos in the fall.
As for Chittick, he said a short-go qualification was a great way to close out the season.
“It’s always nice to end the year on a positive note like that,” Chittick said. “My horse worked good, I got out good and everything worked in the run.”
In the short-go, however, Chittick’s calf got up after his run, resulting in a no-time.
“It all went south after I roped him. I missed my slack getting off, and then when I was running down the rope he moved to the right and I lost him with my hand. I finally got a hold of him and gave him two wraps, and then he got up,” Chittick said.
Besides the four FHSU team members in the short-go, there were also a few who came close to a finals qualification. In barrel racing, freshman Kadie Hays was 11th at the end of the weekend, a mere .02 seconds away from qualifying for the short-go. Cole Pearson, freshman, and his partner Duell Strickler from Garden City Community College also missed the short-go by one spot after stopping the clock in 8.6 seconds in the team roping. Just behind Pearson and Strickler, in 12th, were Daly and his partner Bret Spanel from Colby Community College.
In addition, one FHSU cowgirl was sitting first – at least for part of the weekend. In terms of luck of the draw, it doesn’t always refer to the stock drawn.
After a hard rain Thursday night, the barrel racers faced an unfortunately unfair battlefield, with the racers who drew up Friday morning taking the brute of the storm, and the Saturday participants racing on dry ground.
After Friday morning’s slack, junior Lena Biel led the barrel racing going into that night’s performance. However, as the temperatures warmed and the ground improved, girls made quicker runs, and by the end of the weekend, Biel was out of the top 10.
“It felt really good to be leading it for a while, but it was a really big disappointment when I got beat out. It’s just the luck of the draw – to draw up in the mud or to draw up when it’s dry – but that’s rodeo,” Biel said.
No matter how many actually made that elite top 10, head coach Bronc Rumford still had nothing but good things to say about the FHSU rodeo team as a whole.
“Well, it was outstanding. We had four kids in the short-go, three other kids that just missed the short-go by one place and several kids that did really well considering what they drew,” Rumford said. “It was by far the best performance of the year across the board. At our rodeo, I can’t think of one kid that didn’t perform as good as he or she could, given what they had. It’s a great performance to end the year on.”