rodeo day 3

K’s Thompson from Lundbreck, Alberta goes over the top on Crash Gate in Sunday’s saddle bronc competition at the Ellensburg Rodeo on Sunday.

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Arena record broken in the big man’s event. Arena record challenged in the barrel racing. A log jam at the top of nearly every event. Yep, just a typical Labor Day weekend at the Ellensburg Rodeo.

Will Lummus won steer wrestling’s second round with an arena-record 3.3-second time but wasn’t officially the winner until Sunday’s performance was complete. Jordon Briggs nearly equaled the arena record in barrel racing with a 16.98-second pattern (just .07 from Sydney Blanchard’s record) and the top 12 of each event are back today for short-round and average paydays.

Briggs was in awe of the times before her run as it was clear that the barrel racers saved the best for last of the second round. Jimmie Smith opened with a 17.02, followed by Nellie Miller’s 17.13. Stevi Hillman’s 17.06 held the lead for less than a minute before Briggs’ 16.98.

“It was a lot of pressure following up those first three girls,” she said. “I was geez! That put the pressure on us. But I put my game face on and remembered it is still an average and still needed to get to the short round.”

Well, she’s in the short round. She won $2,597 for the go-round win (she also won $433 in the first round) and is just .01 behind Hillman (Ellensburg’s 2019 champion) in the average 34.43 to 34.44 on two. Two-time Ellensburg champion Nellie Miller has a 34.59.

Briggs isn’t new to rodeo, but it’s been a while since she was on the rodeo trail.

“I am so happy. I’ve only been to Ellensburg twice and I won it in 2009 for my first time,” the Texas cowgirl said. “And I haven’t rodeod since then. I love the Ellensburg Rodeo.”

What got her back?

“My horse. I’ve been training futurity colts and selling them and this one just meant the world to me, and I couldn’t let him go and I couldn’t let him sit either, so here I am and it’s all because of him.”

Briggs is third in the world standings with $88,100 won this year, but Ellensburg will push her past $90,000, possibly more if she earns short round and average checks.

One guy who won’t win anything here is Tucker Allen. The California bulldogger was 4.2 second on his second-round steer, a time that many times would at least pick up a small check, but not here.

“The competition is tougher than it’s ever been and that just shows here today,” he said. “I thought I made a decent run. I could’ve been more on the barrier, but out here you’ve gotta blow the barrier out. This is a prestigious rodeo and you’ve got to make it a fast run every time you’re here.”

Cody Devers and Dirk Tavenner lead the average with 8.1-second aggregates on two.

Ryan Jarrett doesn’t lead the tie-down roping average, but he’s good enough to come back today. The Oklahoma cowboy was 9.7 seconds on Sunday’s calf — out of the money for the go-round — but good enough on two to get back. Ellensburg’s Jake Pratt, who ran both of his calves during Thursday’s slack, is 20.9 on two runs, snuck into the top 12 in 11th. It’s unlikely he’ll jump all the way to the average win, but he’s in the running for a short round and average check.

However, Leighton Berry is in the running for it all. The Texas bareback rider bested Big Bend Rodeo’s 883 for 85.5 and the long go win for $3,783, knocking Jess Pope and his 84.5 from the top.

“I didn’t know that horse at all. That’s a young bucking horse of Chad Hutsell’s,” Berry said. “He told me he was pretty good, and he had a lot of faith in him and sure enough I win the long round in Ellensburg. It’s pretty special.”

Berry admitted to getting out of sorts and just hung on for the last two seconds.

“The horses tend to bounce back on the back of your head sometimes when you’re not doing things correctly. I think I could’ve rode that horse a little bit better. Gave me a good smack and I got a little dizzy, but I’m just thankful I got to finish and got off safely.”

Cal Fuller and Cullen Teller set the pace during team roping’s slack earlier in the week and held off the charges from a handful of ropers to go into today with a 10.4-second average on two, some three-tenths of a second better than Coy Rahlmann and Douglas Rich. Close behind is Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira with a 10.8 on two.

Saddle bronc’s third-ranked rider, Brody Cress, equaled Sage Newman’s Saturday score. Cress danced with Flying 5’s Blue Feather for an 87.5 and $3,174. Jesse James Kirby’s Sunday horse – Korkow Rodeo’s Joker Poker – pushed him to 86.5, splitting third with Layton Green for $1,677.

Nobody knocked defending bull riding world champion from his 88-point perch set on Friday for $3,579, but six-time world champion Sage Kimzey matched Creek Young’s 85 from Saturday with Kimzey’s ride on Corey and Lange’s Shaved Ice on Sunday afternoon. The score netted both Kimzey and Young $2,386.

Monday’s short round begins at 11:45. Cowboys and cowgirls will vie for short go checks as well as the lucrative average paydays.

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