While a pair of local cowboys came away with gold buckles, there were several other good performances from Ponoka and area competitors at the Canadian Finals Rodeo.
A total of 13 cowboys either from, or with connections to Ponoka, were involved in the CFR, with the most notable being Jake Vold who won his third straight bareback championship and Luke Butterfield capturing the all-around title.
However, that isn’t to say the rest didn’t make a lot of noise as they challenged for their own championship buckle.
Ponoka’s own Levi Simpson, along with team roping partner Jeremy Buhler from Arrowwood, got off to an excellent start with a victory on opening night. Unfortunately, that was about as good as it got, as they wound up with three ‘no time’ runs.
“We started out good, then had a couple of rough runs,” Simpson said in an interview after their final run Nov. 13.
“It just wasn’t our turn. We got the lone win and enough results, but did what we could.”
Simpson and Buhler will make history next month as the first all-Canadian team roping pair to compete at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, something Simpson wants to treat like any other rodeo once it begins.
There were two other team roping pairs from the area who had decent performances during the CFR.
Travis Gallais and his partner Devin Wigemyr of Brooks didn’t have a great stint at the CFR, earning cash just once — third place at the final performance. While Brett Buss and partner Klay Whyte, from Airdrie, made a bit more money at the CFR, close to $8,000 each for fourth place overall.
Ponoka seems to grow a lot of bullriders and three of them represented the community well at the CFR.
Tyler Pankewitz got bucked-off half his rides, but won money on his other three to end fourth overall after earning just over $24,000 at the event to go along with the nearly $19,000 from the season.
“I rode half of the bulls I got, it could’ve been a lot worse,” he stated in an interview after his final ride Nov. 13.
“There are a lot of young guys and they are hard to beat. Being one of the oldest out here, I’m just trying to keep up and I think I did alright for not riding much during the past two and a half months.
Pankewitz has been nursing injuries most of the season and came into the CFR with a hurt left shoulder, which hindered his performance.
“I’ve been injured a lot this year though I was mentally ready for the CFR. But, when you get on a bull and its been so long, you’re somewhat rusty so things could’ve been better,” he said.
“Now that it’s over, I can catch up on things and heal then hopefully come back in the spring ready to take it all on again.”
For the other two local bullriders, the results were mixed.
Zane Lambert managed to stay on three rides, earning a second and a fourth, during the event to wind up seventh overall with first time CFR competitor Wacey Finkbeiner finishing 10th overall by earning money on the two rides he made.
In the steer wrestling, Ponoka native Brock Butterfield wound up fifth overall despite picking up a pair of ‘no time’ runs over the six performances, while racking up almost $28,000 in earnings at the CFR.
Lastly, Dean Edge who ranches near Rimbey ended his CFR with almost $9,500 in earnings in the tie down roping.