The best of the best rodeo athletes had an unlikely mash-up during the Ponoka Stampede Rodeo Showdown Sunday, July 3.
It was also an exciting time for the Tommy Dorchester $50,000 Dash for Cash with an exciting finish for Colt Cosgrave. For the World Professional Chuckwagon Association driver Cosgrave’s penalty-free run earned him the coveted $50,000 and a new GMC pickup.
Cosgrave was actually in second place but a knocked barrel by Cody Fraser earned him a five-second penalty, enough to take him out of the running.
“It’s one of the biggest shows in the world,” said Cosgrave of the win. “With the class of drivers and the horsepower that’s out there, it’s just amazing to get to be here.”
Announcer Les McIntyre asked if Cosgrave knew he had a chance at winning to which he replied: “I did when you (McIntyre) said he had a barrel down,” joked Cosgrave in front of the grandstands.
For the rodeo action there were several turns that had fans doing a double-take.
Jake Vold was the frontrunner for the bareback showdown after a strong ride in the finals Sunday afternoon but he suffered an injury, breaking several ribs and forcing him to turn out and not ride.
With earnings of $8,951 up to that point, Vold had to turn away the chance at big money in the showdown due to the injury. That left Caleb Bennet, of Tremonton, UT, to earn the title and an additional $7,500 for the top spot. “I was bound and determined to make it work,” said Bennet.
“The past year, I’ve just worked on some basics.”
Whenever he returned from a rodeo without winnings, he changed his ride and technique to find something that worked. In this case, it did. “You’ve gotta keep working in this game because there’s a lot of young kids hungry,” added Bennet.
The saddlebronc round proved somewhat controversial after the initial announcement that Clay Elliot earned 87.75, just .25 points higher than Jacobs Crawley.
After the announcement Elliot was presented with a buckle and jacket only to have it taken away. Announcers stated that Crawley actually tied with Elliot. This resulted in a ride-off.
At the end of the ride Crawley landed the most points and walked away with the buckle. It was a surprise for everyone. “I was in my clothes headed out the gate,” said Crawley in an interview of the ride-off.
He is proud of the win, however, and said he enjoys a chance at saddlebronc any time.
In steer wrestling, it turns out all manner of strange occurrences can happen. In this case, there were no clean runs in the showdown. Stephen Culling of Fort St. John, B.C. won the round despite a 10-second penalty earning him a 13.9 seconds run.
All the other bulldoggers had to do was have a clean, quick run but sometimes the stress of the situation changes an athlete’s actions. Cody Cassidy was unable to grab onto his steer, prior to Culling’s run, and Ponoka’s Brock Butterfield also managed to break the barrier giving him a time of 15.2 seconds.
All that was left was for Harley Cole to make a clean run and he seemed sure to make it happen. However, after a tough landing Cole was stuck for the next 20 plus seconds wrestling the steer to the ground.
“Crazy things happen in Ponoka, especially on a Sunday,” said Culling somewhat bewildered.
“It kind of went a little different than I was planning, but it worked out in the end.”
While he’s a good friend of Cole, he said he breathed a sigh of relief at winning.
“This is the biggest win of my career to date. This is in my opinion the best rodeo you could win,” he added.
In bullriding everyone was bucked off including Cody Teel, who won Ponoka in 2014 and ultimately had the high points of the week and won the buckle. This was the first time Teel was bucked off in his three years in Ponoka.
Rene Leclercq from Holden won the barrel racing with a time of 17.796 and team ropers Kolton Schmidt and Shay Carroll won the team roping challenge.
Tie down roping saw a lightning fast time of 7.5 seconds for Shane Hanchey, of Sulphur, LA. He managed to to beat out Stetson Vest’s next fastest time of 10.6 seconds and Eckville’s Clayton Smith’s time of 11 seconds. Chad Johnson broke the barrier and landed a time of 18.7 seconds.