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Ryan Kuhn, Luke Olson and now Alec Dietz. I’m happy to say I’ve been able to watch the current and most recent former Daily Record sports editors take in their first rodeo under my skilled and inspiring tutelage (it’s OK to eye roll). Those three guys — can I call ‘em cowboys? — have all taught this ol’ dog new tricks with Twitter’s tweets, so I’ll pass along my rodeo passion to them.

Alec and I took in the Cle Elum Roundup this past weekend and I gotta tell ya, even with the addition of more seats, they had no problem selling out the place, which is a great problem to have. I’ve enjoyed the growth of “Bucking in the Pines,” and it led the trend of new additions to the Columbia River Circuit over the past handful of years. The circuit has certainly increased its options for card-carrying PRCA members, adding more than 10 rodeos and roughstock events — many from the amateur ranks.

Fans might have noticed the absence of bareback riding at the Roundup. I’m hoping it’s not a growing trend and instead an anomaly. Stock contractor Daniel Beard shared with me the reality of minimal entries when the books initially opened and by the time roughstock riders got around in trying to enter, it was already too late to keep that portion of the rodeo going, so Beard decided to just focus on bulls and saddle broncs.

I remember talking to four-time world champion Bobby Mote about this about seven or eight years ago. I was worried that bareback was deemed too rough on a cowboy’s body and the result was fewer young guys getting involved with the event. I remember him telling me that at one time saddle bronc had the same issue and now that event has increased contestants in many rodeos, including Ellensburg. Everything is cyclical and we’re just in a low point of contestant entries for bareback. It is rough on the body though, but cowboys have certainly made a career on bareback horses.

Just look at three-time champ Tim O’Connell. Kaycee Feild just won Gold Buckle No. 5. Will Lowe, who won the last of his three world titles in 2006 is 38 years old and still going for NFR qualification No. 16 this year. You don’t do that without incredible discipline of not only working out but including stretching and a bunch of year-round preventative maintenance to protect your body.

All three of those guys won money last weekend, most notably at “The Daddy of ‘em All,” Cheyenne Frontier Days. Feild won $2,135. Lowe won $1,836. O’Connell left with the championship and $13,656. Cheyenne is huge, paying out more than a million bucks over the course of a little more than a week.

Every event winner earns a ton of money. Just look at steer roping. Not many rodeos sponsor the event and those that do don’t share the same added money as they would with a steer wrestling or tie-down roping. Cole Patterson — who was last year’s regular season standings leader headed into the NFSR, and this year’s leader by more than $21,000 over his dad, four-time world champ Rocky Patterson — picked up the win and more than $15,600 from Cheyenne. Three-time defending world barrel racing champion Hailey Kinsel rodeo Sister to the Cheyenne championship for another $13,605 in earnings.

Taking it back to the Columbia River Circuit, I’m a sucker for a family link. Did anyone see the steer roping results? Tom Sorey won the first round for $810. Pake Sorey won the second round for another $810. Who won round three? That was obviously Trent Sorey, followed by Pake, who won average money as well and pocketed $2,330 on the weekend. Tom leads the circuit standings. Pake’s checks were the first of the season, which put him sixth in this week’s standings.

Gotta love rodeo.

Jon Guddat covers rodeo – from the kids to the kids at heart – with a weekly rodeo column in the Daily Record. Contact Jon with story ideas at jonguddat@yahoo.com.

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