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DUNCAN, Okla. â€“ Steer wrestler Kyle Irwin has had a season to remember in ProRodeo.
On Saturday night, he added a strong statement to his 2014 campaign, winning the final round of the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo and securing the coveted average championship. Now heâ€™ll add that perfect exclamation point in seven weeks with his first qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
â€śLast year when I knew Iâ€™d made the Ram National Circuit Finals, that just kind of kicked it all off,â€ť said Irwin, 24, of Robertsdale, Ala. â€śOnce I got to the Ram Circuit Finals, I told myself that if I do good, Iâ€™ll rodeo the rest of the year; if not, Iâ€™m just going to work this year.â€ť
That self-proclamation came this past April, and he lived up to his promise. Irwin won the steer wrestling championship, pocketing about $10,000 and adding a $20,000 voucher toward the purchase of a Ram pickup. Heâ€™s been rodeoing ever since.
On his final run of the circuit season, Irwin turfed his steer in 4.0 seconds to win the round. His three-run cumulative time of 14.0 seconds was half a second better than the average runner-up, Jeff Miller of Blue Mound, Kan. The only thing that he missed was the year-end championship.
But he didnâ€™t miss it by much. In a sport where dollars equal championship points, Stockton Graves of Alva, Okla., won the year-end title by just $76 over Irwin. By being the circuit champions, they will represent the region at the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, which will take place next spring in Kissimmee, Fla.
â€śItâ€™s super important,â€ť Irwin said. â€śI knew I had to be fast tonight. The guys that were in the running for the title all bulldog great. I just needed to do my part and not mess up. This is a pretty big accomplishment; this is my fourth time making it to the Prairie Circuit finals. Last year I made the national circuit finals because Stockton won the average and the year-end and I got to go because I was second. This year I got there on my own.â€ť
Itâ€™s really no coincidence that Graves and Irwin qualify together. Irwin competes in the Oklahoma-Kansas-Nebraska region because he was part of the rodeo program at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, and Graves is the rodeo coach.
â€śIt was an exciting race and came down to the last day, and that makes it a lot of fun,â€ť said Graves, a seven-time NFR qualifier. â€śI just feel fortunate to place in the average so I can go to Florida.â€ť
Thatâ€™s just another prize at the end of the rainbow for the Prairie Circuit champions.
Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo
Bareback riding: First round: 1. Caine Riddle, 82 points on New Frontier Rodeoâ€™s Sinner, $1,130; 2. (tie) Justin Pollmiller and Brian Leddy, 72, $706 each; 4. Wyatt Clark, 71, $282. Second round: 1. Caine Riddle, 83 points on Beutler & Son Rodeoâ€™s Sure Motion, $1,130; 2. Jared Keylon, 76, $847; 3. Yance Day, 75, $565; 4. Justin Pollmiller, 73, $282. Third round: 1. Yance Day, 77 points on Beutler & Sonâ€™s Pop-A-Top, $1,130; 2. Brian Leddy, 75, $847; 3. Wesley Cole, 74, $565; 4. Wyatt Clar, 73, $282. Average: 1. Caine Riddle, 233 points on three rides, $1,694; 2. (tie) Justin Pollmiller and Brian Leddy, 210, $1,059 each; 4. Wyatt Clark, 209, $424 Year-end champion: Caine Riddle.
Steer wrestling: First round: 1. Stockton Graves, 3.8 seconds, $1,130; 2. Shane Frey, 4.4, $847; 3. Kyle Irwin, 5.1, $565; 4. Jeff Miller, 5.3, $282. Second round: 1. Jacob Edler, 3.9 seconds, $1,130; 2. (tie) Cole Edge and Trell Etbauer, 4.7, $706; 4. (tie) Brandon Volker and Kyle Irwin, 4.9, $141. Third round: 1. Kyle Irwin, 4.0 seconds, $1,130; 2. Jeff Miller, 4.2, $847; 3. Chancey Larson, 4.4, $565; 4. Jacob Edler, 4.8, $282. Average: 1.Kyle Irwin, 14.0 seconds on three runs, $1,964; 2. Jeff Miller, 14.5, $1,271; 3. Stockton Graves, 15.1, $847; 4. Jacob Edler, 16.8, $424. Year-end champion: Stockton Graves.
Team roping: First round: 1. Cale Markham/Tyler Worley, 4.9 seconds, $1,130; 2. Coleman Proctor/Billie Saebens, 5.7, $847; 3. Troy Boone/Dawson McMaster, 6.9, $565; 4. Zac Small/Nick Simmons, 7.0, $282. Second round: 1. A.J. Horton/Kyle Horton, 5.2 seconds, $1,130; 2. Jake Pancost/Austin Rogers, 5.5, $847; 3. Casey Hicks/Jake Pianalto, 5.7, $565; 4. Mike Bacon/Joseph Harrison, 282. Third round: 1. (tie) Zac Small/Nick Simmons and A.J. Horton/Kyle Horton, 4.8 seconds, $988 each; 3. Brett Christensen/Chase Boekhaus, 5.6, $565; 4. Jake Pentcost/Austin Rogers, 5.8, $282. Average: 1. Coleman Proctor/Billie Saebens, 17.9 seconds on three runs, $1,695; 2. Mike Bacon/Joseph Harrison, 19.4, $1,271; 3. Andrew Ward/Reagan Ward, 19.8, $847; 4. Troy Boone/Dawson McMaster, 20.1, $424. Year-end champions: Header Andrew Ward and heeler Billie Saebens.
Saddle bronc riding: First round: 1. Dalton Davis, 82 points on New Frontier Rodeoâ€™s Satin Sheets, $1,130; 2. Ryan Bestol, 73; 3. (tie) Nick Shenold, Andrew Harris and Jesse James Kirby, 72, $282 each. Second round: 1. (tie) Dalton Davis, on Beutler & Son Rodeoâ€™s Painted Desert, and Hardy Braden, on Beutlerâ€™s Crossfire, 79 points, $988; 3. Wade Sundell, 78, $565; 4. Jesse James Kirby, 76, $282.
Third round: 1. Wade Sundell, 84 points on Frontier Rodeoâ€™s The Griz, $1,130; 2. Ty Atchison, 80, $847; 3. Jesse James Kirby, 78, $565; 4. Wes Bailey, 77, $282. Average: 1. Jesse James Kirby, 226 points on three rides, $1,694; 2. Ryan Bestol, 213, $1,271; 3. Wade Sundell, 162 points on two rides, $847; 4. Dalton Davis, 161, $424. Year-end champion: Wade Sundell.
Tie-down roping: First round: 1. Ryan Jarrett, 7.5 seconds, $1,130; 2. Cody Quaney, 8.6, $847; 3. Perry Dietz, 10.7, $565; 4. Luke Blanton, 11.0, $282. Second round: 1. Ryan Jarrett, 7.5 seconds, $1,130; 2. Cody Quaney, 8.6, $847; 3. Perry Dietz, 10.7, $565; 4. Luke Blanton, 11.0, $282. Third round: 1. Cody Quaney, 8.3 seconds, $1,130; 2. Cole Wilson, 8.8, $847; 3. Bryson Sechrist, 9.0, $565; 4. Ben Madsen, 9.1, $282. Average: 1. Ryan Jarrett, 24.3 seconds on three runs, $1,694; 2. (tie) Cody Quaney and Luke Blanton, 29.0, $1,059; 4. Caddo Lewallen, 30.8, $424. Year-end champion: Jerome Schneeberger.
Barrel racing: First round: 1. Gretchen Benbenek, 16.00 seconds, $1,152; 2. Emily Miller, 16.17, $864; 3. Mary Burger, 16.21, $576; 4. Kyra Stierwalt, 16.22, $288. Second round: 1. Mary Burger, 15.94 seconds, $1,152; 2. Jeanne Anderson, 15.97, $864; 3. Cindy Gillespie, 15.98, $576; 4. Kyra Stierwalt, 16.10, $288. Third round: 1. Kyra Stierwalt, 15.82 seconds, $1,152; 2. Mary Burger, 15.95, $864; 3. Cindy Gillespie, 16.03, $576; 4. Shelby Janssen, 16.04, $288. Average: 1. Mary Burger, 48.10 seconds on three runs, $1,728; 2. Kyra Stierwalt, 48.14, $1,296; 3. Gretchen Benbenek, 48.30, $864; 4. Cindy Gillespie, 48.53, $432. Year-end champion: Gretchen Benbenek.
Steer roping: First round: 1. Mike Chase, 12.0 seconds, $976; 2. Brodie Poppino, 12.4, $732; 3. Shorty Garten, 13.4, $488; 4. J.P. Wickett, 14.5, $244. Second round: 1. Rocky Patterson, 10.2 seconds, $976; 2. Roger Branch, 11.8, $732; 3. Mike Chase, 11.9, $488; 4. Brodie Poppino, 12.4, $244. Third round: 1. J.P. Wickett, 10.4 seconds, $976; 2. Jay Sellers, 10.6, $732; 3. Rod Hartness, 11.2, $488; 4. Chet Herren, 11.7, $244. Average: 1. Brodie Poppino, 42.8 seconds on three head, $1,463; 2. Rod Hartness, 23.7, $1,098; 3. Mike Chase, 23.9, $732; 4. J.P. Wickett, 24.9, $366. Year-end champion: Chet Herren.
Bull riding: First round: 1. Sage Kimzey, 85 points on New Frontier Rodeoâ€™s Night Rider, $1,130; 2. (tie) Sam Wyatt and Lane Wilhelm, 78, $706 each; 4. Chris McCombs, 77, $282. Second round: 1. Ty Viers, 77 points on Frontier Rodeoâ€™s Boom-Boom, $1,130; 2. Chris McCombs, 74, $874; no other qualified rides. Third round: 1. No qualified rides. Average: 1. Chris McCombs, 151 points on two rides, $1,694; 2. Lane Wilhelm, 78 points on one ride, $1,271; 3. Ty Viers, 77, $847; 4. Triston Eugene Boor, 73, $424. Year-end champion: Sage Kimzey.
DALLAS â€“ Dirty Jacket is one of the most decorated bucking horses in rodeo.
This year, his accolades got a little brighter.
The 10-year-old bay gelding from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo has been voted as the 2014 Bareback Horse of the Year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. The award is based on a vote of the top bareback riders in the sport, and this is the third time Dirty Jacket has been named one of the top horses in the game â€“ he was the Runner-Up Reserve World Champion Bareback horse in 2012, then finished as the Reserve World Champion in 2013.
â€śIâ€™m not surprised that he won it,â€ť said Steven Dent, a nine-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Mullen, Neb. â€śThat is a really great horse. There are not very many of them like him that do it every time, that are that electric, jump that high in the air and that you can be that many points on.â€ť
Dent knows that feeling very well. On Saturday, Sept. 27, the Nebraskan rodeo Dirty Jacket for 91 points to win the Cowboy Capital of the World Rodeo in Stephenville, Texas. Dent was on the bubble to qualify for the NFR and needed solid paychecks over that final weekend of the PRCA season to ensure he will be riding for his share of the biggest purse of the year in Las Vegas.
â€śAny time you can draw one that everybody wants, youâ€™re happy with it whether youâ€™re in that situation or itâ€™s a regular-season rodeo,â€ť he said. â€śYou donâ€™t have the opportunity to get on a horse that you can be that many points on and thatâ€™s that fun to get on very often in your life, much less the last week of the year when youâ€™re trying to make the NFR.â€ť
This marks another step up for Dirty Jacket, who will buck at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for the sixth straight year this coming December. He joins four other Carr horses that have earned the Bareback of the Year honor: Real Deal, Big Tex and MGM Deuces Night.
â€śIâ€™ve been on big horses that look big and feel big,â€ť said Richmond Champion, a first-time NFR qualifier who rode Dirty Jacket for 91 points to win the championship at the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days. â€śHe has a huge frame, but heâ€™s so athletic from nose to tail. He just looks like an athlete. If you could pick a horse out of a herd that could jump nine feet in the air, heâ€™s that horse.
â€śIf youâ€™re going to win a big rodeo, thatâ€™s the horse you want.â€ť
Dirty Jacket was sired by the great Night Jacket, one of the most storied stallions in the game. Both Big Tex and MGM Deuces Night sired by the stallion.
But Dirty Jacket wasnâ€™t the only Carr superstar to earn end-of-the-year honors. He is joined by Poker Face, which is the 2014 Runner-Up Reserve World Champion bull. The 7-year-old white bull with black spots has yet to be ridden.
â€śThe reason heâ€™s unridden because heâ€™s bucking from the time the gate opens until he bucks you off,â€ť said Cody Whitney, a retired bull rider who serves as a an adviser for Pete Carr Pro Rodeo. â€śHe gives 100 percent from the time he starts until you hit the ground.â€ť
Those are the animals cowboys love, which is why those Carr animals were honored in 2014.