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So, this what I’ve been missing.

If you were at the Ellensburg 5 Header at the arena on Saturday, you were wind swept. If you were at the arena on Sunday, you were blessed with a great day of weather to compliment a great day of roping. Either way, if you were at the arena, you won because a sun-drench arena highlighting some of the best ropers in the Northwest is a cure for many ailments in this world. It was literally a breath of fresh air for those rodeo fans needing a shot in the arm of good competition we were robbed of last year due to the many pandemic shutdowns.

As we can see in my adjoining article, Roger Nonella came out on top of a crowded field of calf ropers to win the prestigious 5 Header buckle. All-Around extraordinaire Janey Reeves dominated the breakaway to earn top billing in her event (and left Ellensburg with a weekend-high $3,900-plus).

And we have a weekend lull to bask in the glory of local competition before we get another two days of it in a week and a half with the two-day Bares and Broncs May 14 and 15. We’ll discuss it further next week, but the Bares and Broncs is now PRCA-sanctioned and with that comes more added money and a contestant list that looks similar to an NFR. Those are big words, but I’ll back it up with that contestant list. For bareback riding, we have three-time Ellensburg champion Richmond Champion (a six-time NFR qualifier) here.

We’ve got five-time and three-time world champions Kaycee Feild and Tim O’Connell here. On the bronc riding side, we have five of the Wright family, who have probably 20-some NFR qualifications and five world titles between them. We’ve got 2018 world champ Wade Sundell (who just won Guymon, Okla.).

Sundell you remember was critically injured in the chute in 2019 and spent a year getting healthy before COVID put the brakes on full-time competition. He’s back and he’ll be in Ellensburg next week. Zeke Thurston and Taos Muncy, both two-time world champions, will nod their heads here.

The Bares and Broncs fits perfectly in the PRCA travel schedule. Everyone was in Guymon last weekend. Some regional rodeo contestants will be in Grand Coulee this weekend. Roughstock riders will bounce between Redding, Calif., and the Bares and Broncs the following weekend. That might seem like a stretch, but it’s par for the course for a rodeo athlete.

It’s a justifiable trip when you consider the $10,000 in added money per event.

Head over to baresandbroncs.com for ticket and schedule information.

I’ve mentioned Guymon a couple of times, let me mention it again. Ellensburg calf roper Jake Pratt continued his climb up the standings when he won the first round with an 8.4-second calf for $3,916. Shane Hanchey won the average (and nearly $10,000 grand to his world standings-leading haul), but Pratt — who was out of the top 50 less than a month ago — is now 19th in the world. There is way too much rodeo to go this spring, let alone the rest of the year, but it’s good to see the top 15 rather than be buried well below it.

One final note: I also mentioned Grand Coulee a bit ago and it’s also worth mentioning again. Grand Coulee is one of a handful of smaller rodeos that used to be ProWest and is now PRCA sanctioned. By my unofficial count, the Columbia River Circuit has added about 10 smaller rodeos in the past two or three years. Rodeo is alive and well in the Pacific Northwest.

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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