Cle Elum Roundup

A rodeo hand ropes a bucking bronco after it left its rider on the ground during the Cle Elum Round Up at the Washington Horse Park outside of Cle Elum on Saturday.

It’s rare when preparing for a week of rodeo a roper or rider can say, ‘This is the week of rest.’ This week is not one of those easy weeks. Between Ogden and Spanish Fork ending tonight and good-sized rodeos like Deadwood, SD, Joseph, Ore., and Medicine Hat, Alberta, paying out decent money, not to mention one-headers like Helena and Lewistown in Montana and Eagle, Colo., a cowboy or barrel racer can justify making any of these trips. This is of course in addition to The Daddy in Cheyenne. That’ll pay out more than $900,000.

By the way, Helena is a bucket list rodeo for me and it may be bumped higher on the list as former Daily Record sports editor Ryan Kuhn is running the show for the Helena Independent Record at this weekend’s Last Chance Stampede. Will rodeo replace his beloved Sac State football team as his favorite sport to watch? Not sure on that, but he will enjoy covering Helena’s hometown hero Ty Erickson, the No. 1 steer wrestler in the world this week.

Very close to home however is this weekend’s Cle Elum Roundup. In just a few short years this event has gone from wishful thinking, to an idea with a lot of volunteer commitment, to an amateur rodeo and now it’s in its second year as a professional rodeo. As the rodeo makes a name for itself and gets more established, I look forward to it becoming a viable option for circuit cowboys and cowgirls as the payout hopefully grows. Last year paid out nearly $20,000, hopefully this year’s purse eclipses that plateau. By my count 15 Kittitas County residents — and many more who live here part-time or have links to the Valley — are entered this weekend in Cle Elum, which will give a familiar feel to a rodeo that has all the makings of a family reunion-type of rodeo. Local and regional fans cheering local and regional competitors. Last year’s fans had a difficult time finding seats. If you’re not there early you’ll be in standing room only. It’s a good problem to have, hopefully the committee can install more sections of seating for fans as the Roundup grows in popularity. The entrance to the Washington State Horse Park is literally 90 seconds from the freeway if you’re coming from the westside. That easy access and proximity to Seattle and Ellensburg guarantees people will make the trip.

Friday and Saturday night’s perfs begin at 6 p.m. and barrel racing slack is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday. We’ll talk more about the Roundup as the weekend gets closer, but I’m looking forward to the show.

I’m watching results almost daily and while some locals didn’t make huge money, they came away with a few dollar bills. Jake Minor, heeling for Garrett Rogers placed in Cheyenne’s second round for $1,800 and picked up nearly $1,600 in Salinas, Calif.

Jake Pratt placed in the average there for $482. The Minor brothers — Brady and Riley — picked up go-round money in Salinas ($2,033) and Nampa ($1,006). As I said last week, the brothers have the NFR made, whereas Pratt and Jake Minor need to secure more checks. Plenty of time to do it as the regular season has two full months — and huge potential paydays — left.

Back from the National High School Finals Rodeo is the contingent of Kittitas County competitors. Hats off to Annie Minor whose 3.9-second run in breakaway was 47th in the first round. Cynthia Johnson placed 64th and 67th in girls’ cutting’s first and second rounds as well. While the results didn’t earn them much more than a pat on the back, think about this for a bit: the commitment of practice and care, the cost of the sport and the daunting task of driving of thousands of miles during the year sifts out millions of kids who say, “No thanks” to the sport. There ain’t anything easy about high school rodeo. My hat is tipped in your honor.

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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