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Steer wrestler recalls high school rodeo days in Ponoka after taking first spot

By Dianne Finstad
Steer wrestler Pacean Deleeuw is in the top spot for steer wrestling. He also happens to have won his first buckle ever at a high school rodeo in Ponoka. (Ponoka Stampede/Covy Moore)

By Dianne Finstad

Steer wrestler Pacean Deleeuw remembers winning his first steer wrestling buckle at a high school rodeo in Ponoka. Now he’s taken the lead at the Ponoka Stampede.

He was among the other lead changes during Wednesday’s Ponoka Stampede. Pacean Deleeuw capitalized on his 4.5 second run in the morning, adding in a 5.3 second afternoon run to overtake the lead with a 9.8 second total.

“My heart’s still beating like crazy. I just can’t believe it right now,” admited the steer wrestler from Athabasca, competing at just his second Ponoka Stampede as a pro. “I did good on my first (steer) and I wanted to do good on my second. I didn’t think it would be that good, but I’m sure glad it was. My horse worked awesome, and I caught up to the steer really good, and the steer did his job, just like I did mine.

“It’s my favourite rodeo. When I was high school rodeoing, I just started steer wrestling in my grade 11 year. The Ponoka High School rodeo was where I won my first steer wrestling buckle.”

And with two solid runs like he’s already made, Deleeuw has put himself in position to contend for a much more valuable Ponoka buckle.

“This will help me huge to have confidence with two good runs, so I can build off that, and keep on going.”

The Graham brothers of Wainwright have been tearing up the team roping circuit this spring, and they rolled into Ponoka to record times of 5.6 and 6.3 seconds, to speed up the event with their 11.9 second lead on two runs.

“Honestly, this is the first time we’ve ever caught two here!” admits Dawson Graham. “So that feels pretty good. A rodeo this big and this good that a guy’s never done good at, it’s kind of nice to get two caught, hopefully get a little (cash) in the rounds, and come back to try again on Sunday.”

Heeler Dillon credits his new horse for their success. He managed to convince his friend Keely Bonnet of Ponoka to sell him his award-winning horse, Cruz.

“He was wanting to help us out,” says Graham. “Our goal is to make the National Finals this year. That horse is going to be a huge part of it.

“We need a good fourth (of July run) right here,” adds Dawson Graham. “It would help us.”

When Tuf Cooper rolls into town, no tie down roping lead is safe. The Texas looper who’s collected four world buckles and a Canadian one showed why, by roping his first calf in 8.1 seconds, then coming back to shave off a tenth for an eight flat in the performance, leading on two with 16.1.

“I knew I had a good chance and I wanted to come back and make the same type of run I made this morning, and it was pretty close to it, so I can’t argue with that,” says Cooper, who used the great Canadian rope horse Peso, owned by Logan Bird.

“It’s such a relief to know you get to come up here and have that type of dancing partner. It takes care of everything and you’re able to clear your head and just enjoy what we get to do for a living.

“There’s a few different approaches to coming down the lane. I like to start just a little bit early. That way I have time to hold my horse up or give it more gas if I need to. It seems to be better to use the brake and the gas, instead of just the gas.

“I’ve won Ponoka twice, and I sure would love to make it three. We’ll see what’s in store.”

Traveling partners Sage Newman and Chase Brooks both bumped former leader Ben Anderson back in the saddle bronc riding. Brooks has the edge after marking 89.25 on Duane Kesler’s Double Red.

“It’s been hard this year leaving the house,” says Brooks, a Montanan who was living in Texas for the winter. “Having a one-year-old daughter changes a guy’s perspective, so it’s been tough. At least when it goes like this, it’s worth it.

“This spring, I pretty much sat at home. But now it’s go time. I can’t really sit around anymore. I better get at it now.”

The best bareback ride of the day was an 85.75 from Canadian champion Ty Taypotat on Cowboy Up, which moved him into third spot behind the 89.25 still in first from Kade Sonnier. Celeste Montpellier of Stettler ran the barrel pattern in 17.75 seconds, and she’s still on track to be among the top 12 at sixth spot.

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