The sunny and warm weather certainly helped the crowd and likely some of the competitors.
Wednesday was an interesting second day of rodeo at the Ponoka Stampede as clean rides and runs were rare events during the afternoon performance.
The bareback event got a new leader in veteran JR Vezain from Cowley, Wyoming who put up an 86.5 — just one of three rides to earn marks on the day.
Now while there were plenty of scores in the saddle bronc, only Pincher Creek’s Dustin Flundra was able to break the 84 point barrier — scoring an 84.75 on Break Away — to get himself into the top four overall and in good shape to stick around for the finals. Colt Gorfon of Comanche, Oklahoma with an 82.75 and Meeting Creek’s Layton Green with an 82 are also currently in the top 12 that will compete on Monday.
And an area cowboy, and former Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) champion, Cody Cassidy from Donalda is one top of the steer wrestling with a two-run time of 14.8. Cassidy shone in front of the crowd by posting a blistering time of 4.0 seconds, not far off the Stampede record of 3.2 set 17 years ago by his brother Curtis.
There were only three other bulldoggers that managed to have two good runs yesterday, which means just seven competitors over the first two days of the Stampede have set times to beat in order to secure one of Monday’s 12 available spots.
Over in the bull riding, the cowboys are losing big time as only one — Cody Lee Coverchuk of Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan — lasted long enough, scoring an 84 Wednesday. In fact, the bulls were so good that only one other rider made it longer than four seconds on the day. That leaves just two qualified scores for the finals Monday, with Joe Frost’s 85.75 on Tuesday being the other.
Tie down roping was another win for the animals Wednesday, as four of the 12 cowboys grabbing times on two runs. The best of those on the day was Bo Pickett of Caldwell, Idaho with a combined time of 21.7. Two Alberta cowboys — Shane Smith of Wimborne and Red Deer County’s Virgil Poffenroth — were among those four with respective times of 26.3 and 31.0.
The steers in team roping were also difficult to contend with, as just three pairings had two qualified runs Wednesday. Kyle Lucas of Carstairs and partner Grady Quam of Crossfield notched a 7.7 in the afternoon that has them in the lead with a combined time of 15.3. Meanwhile, Poffenroth and partner Don Depoli from Longview sit third following an 8.1 run for a 15.6 total. Waldeck, Saskatchewan brothers Tuftin and Tyce McLeod were the other team to mark both runs, sitting fourth with total time of 20.3.
Lastly, in the barrel racing, current CFR champion Carman Pozzobon from Sovona, B.C. had the fastest time of the day at 17.676 though it’s only good enough to sit second overall. Cochrane’s Taylor Shields was next with a time of 17.853 and is fourth overall. Two area cowgirls also had good runs Wednesday and sit inside the top 12 that will qualify for Monday’s finals — Stettler’s Dawn Gertner is eighth at 17.979 and Shaylee McMann is right behind her with a 17.995.
Half Mile of Hell
Wednesday was also the opening night of the World Professional Chuckwagon Association racing series at the Stampede.
Veteran Jason Glass in Heat Six had a penalty free race with a time one minute, 15.23 seconds and sits atop the leaderboard, despite not being the fastest wagon on the track.
Gary Gorst, who was in that same heat, ran a 1:14.83, but got five seconds tacked on for knocking a barrel down.
Six other drivers — John Walters, Chad Harden, Mark Sutherland, Cliff Cunningham, Vern Nolin and Logan Gorst — sit close to the top, all running under 16 seconds and sitting within three-tenths of each other.