Glacier County was well-represented at the Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit Finals held in Great Falls last weekend by 10 of the best in the business. Wrapping up the 2019 season over the three Round Rodeo they made their presence known with three go round winners and six more money winners in the goes.
Cut Bank’s Tia Murphy braved the elements to keep her 12-year-old mare, I Can Make U Famous, and also known as Reno, in shape for the prestigious winter Circuit Finals rodeo. Bundling up after her teaching job to ride; usually alone and not finishing until after dark, shows the dedication it takes to be at the top of this game.
With four rodeo wins over the season–Roundup, Lewistown, Billings and Kalispell– she went into the year-end standings in second place. Though standings previously showed her in third, not all competitors had attended enough rodeos.
Tia made three clean runs in the 4 Seasons Arena at Expo Park, cashing in Saturday night with a fourth place time of 13.40. She was also sitting in fourth in the average Sunday with one barrel racer left to run who had a slight lead on two runs. She ended up fifth after it was all over.
Tia and Reno finished the season in third place overall. Though there’s no trip to the Ram National Circuit Finals, Tia isn’t turning Reno out as she is qualified to the next level of the ‘American’ later this winter! Watch for updates in later issues.
Dustin Bird, five-time National Finals Rodeo (NFR) qualifier in heading, teamed up with heeler Sid Sporer at the Circuit Finals. They won the second round with a 6.3.
That win set Dustin up for a chance to win the Average and another trip to the RNCF in Kissimmee, Florida; but when that third steer got to the fence Sunday it took a couple extra swings for Sporer to make a ‘double hock’ loop and they ended up second in the average and third in the go with a 9.3.
Dustin finished the season in third overall moving up two spots with the weekend’s earnings. He went into the MPRF in fifth place. (He was sixth according to the stats available prior to the weekend rodeo, no errors on our part as a contestant ahead in the standings failed to enter the finals, moving everyone below him up.)
Yep, you almost need a secretary to keep ahead of the entries; and maybe Dustin will have that in his soon-to-be wife, Alicia; as he is flying to Arizona for a wedding this week: theirs! Congratulations!
Bull rider Dakota Louis of Browning was in the same situation as Bird, after a third place ride Friday night of 70 and go round win on Saturday night, 84, on the Kesler bull, Ivy League.
The only bull rider to have a score on two going into Sunday, (sitting 1st in the average and the possibility of that RNCF qualification), Dakota liked his chances on Goosebumps, another Kesler bull. Goosebumps made the whistle, but Dakota was a couple jumps short. He finished the season second in the average at the MPRF.
A tough Professional Bull Rider (PBR) competitor, Dakota has been at PBR’s all over the country and we will see him and brother Preston at an INFR or Pro rodeo in 2020 where both are top competitors.
Browning’s Preston Louis drew Little Chubby (Brookman Rodeo) to mark an 84 on Friday night for the win! One of only three to ride their bulls made the winning pay sweeter.
Preston drew Little Hoot for Saturday’s performance and was tenths short of the whistle on a tough bull. Sunday’s bull won the match, too.
Preston got the third place average check. The bulls were so tough there were only 7 qualified bull rides over the weekend making that 84 point ride pretty lucrative.
Buck Lunak, Pro Rodeo bareback rider who grew up in Cut Bank, had some great broncs at the MPRF. He finished fourth Saturday night on Risky Business and was sitting fourth in the average going into Sunday.
“He looked great on the paint bareback ‘Life Jacket’ (J-J Rodeo); Sunday’s draw, but the judges scored him about six points less than I did,” commented Doug Norman. But 72 wasn’t enough for go money nor average money this time.
“The bucking stock was outstanding in the two rounds we watched. They were in great shape and really fired. They get the best care and have a pretty cushy life!” was Norman’s assessment.
Browning Saddle bronc rider Alan Gobert rode Sankey Rodeo’s Black Sox to fourth place Saturday night. It was not the prettiest ride in a tough pen of broncs but it did put him into fourth in the average going into Sunday.
Sunday he rode In the Lu owned by J-J Rodeo to the whistle and it was a beautiful spur ride. But an average check was not to be as he “missed him out” according to the judges.
“Quick to refute their ‘n the Lu decision I checked my video to see but I missed him out, too; getting only the end of the ride,” lamented Kim Norman following that no score.
Not that it would do any good. Unlike NFL, the judges’ decision in the field is final at rodeos.
Shawn Bird of Cut Bank and Nolan Conway of Browning roped their first steer in 5.7 which was good enough for a third place check. Both have qualified multiple times to the MPRF and Nolan was the 2018 All-Around Champion. But this year they had bad luck in the second and third rounds with no times.
There was nothing but bad luck, too, for bull riders Cole Wagner, Valier, and Jayde Murphy, Cut Bank. Neither heard the whistle while aboard their bull.
It’s a New Year with new rodeos and new opportunities: Lord willing for all of us.
Complete results are available at www.montanaprorodeo.com