Two of the three nights at last week’s Jackson Hole Rodeo were fairly good to the bull riders milling around behind the chutes, with Wednesday having four cowboys make time and Saturday having five.
Friday night was a much different story.
Riley Barg had the lone score from the first flight to open the rodeo, notching a 77 atop J5 Money Maker for the early lead with a whole flight of cowboys yet to go to close the show. When the second flight came around, the first seven of eight riders were sent to the dirt, all well ahead of the eight-second mark.
The final cowboy of the night was Rawley Johnson, a 16-year-old from Swan Valley, Idaho. His bull, N9 Spanky, bucked and spun hard right in front of the chute, eventually tossing the young cowboy hard into the dirt. There was a moment of hesitation before a judge finally gave the thumps-up, signaling a made ride to bring the rodeo to a close.
“It was eight seconds on the dot,” Johnson said of his 86-point ride. “That’s what they told me.”
Johnson is one of the youngest cowboys taking on the bucking bulls, but he’s not without experience. This year he competed at the Idaho High School Rodeo Association State Finals, and he’s spent a good chunk of the summer in Montana getting on bulls in Northern Rodeo Association events.
So when he watched cowboy after cowboy being sent unceremoniously to the floor on Friday night, he wasn’t fazed.
“The bulls are bucking, so you better step up,” he said of his approach. “And it’s going to be a good paycheck.”
The paycheck was $258, a good chunk of change sure to go back into travel expenses with much of the summer rodeo season left to chase.
“I’ll be on as much as I can get on,” he said. “Just gotta match ’em, jump for jump.”
Steer wrestling made its summer performance debut at the Jackson Hole Rodeo, with two cowboys taking their shot at bulldogging Friday night. Neither Bary Kreikemeier nor Casey Budge was able to keep his steer in line to make an attempt. Both were given a second go and made a leap that wound up without horns in hand and faces full of dirt.
Kreikemeier returned to the arena shortly after in No. 10 team roping with his wife, Sadee. They were the quickest duo of the night, but a broken gate pushed their time back to 16.31, well outside Tristan Hilton and Kortlen Hilton’s top go of 9.01 for $331.20.
Arye and Jade Espenschied were the quickest pair overall, taking open roping in 6.46 for $576 in earnings.
In year-end standings the bull riding buckle is shaping up to be among the closest races. Brody Hasenack sits in first place with 65 points so far and $1,105.10 earned. Buskin Wilson, who was second Wednesday and Saturday, trails the lead by 8.5 points but has amassed $1,682.37 in earnings.
The year-end title, which will be won in early September, is decided on points, not earnings.