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It was a hot day and the stands were full – ten thousand in attendance. With highs in the 80’s on a February afternoon in Tucson, the soil was dry and the rough-stock knocked around more than those daring & crazy enough to ride ’em. Mounds of dust made for an interesting experience on the ground. Agitated broncos rushed the “photo pit,” a caged-off area opposite the bucking chutes, covering all of us in a thin veil of powdered earth.
No injuries today save for the usual black & blue, the occasional pulled-muscle or sprain. From what I can tell, the only real victim was pride during today’s performance; a lot of cowboys were knocked out of the running with only a handful of qualified rides on the rough-stock. Of sixteen total bull rides – a serious amount for this event – only five cowboys took home a score. It was a Montana boy who took today’s best score – Luke Gee, of Stanford, Montana, took an 84 point score on Red Dog.
The bronc riders took a few more scores today. In fact, looking over the score-sheet, it appears that every last bareback rider took a score today. An Arizona cowboy – Shon Gibon from a town called Taylor – brought the only score to break 80 points in the bareback event on a stunning beast named, simply and accurately, Rage. In the traditional rodeo event – Saddle Bronc – Justin Berg won the day on an exceptional ride on Ravishing Ruby, taking 82 points and a victory lap to a thundering crowd.
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The roping events haven’t changed pace. The team ropers have been struggling this year and only three rides qualified today with a top score of 5.7 seconds. It was a great run by Levi Lewis & Brent Tryon, two Arizona cowboys. And even though it may not seem like much, it’s a hell of a distance – the arena record in this event – made in 2008 and tied in 2011 – is 4.9 seconds.
In tie-down roping, Jake Hannum of Plain City, Utah brought in an 11.7 second run. The arena record for this event is 7.7 seconds, set in 1993 by Jim C. Smith of Del Rio, Texas.
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The heat’s on and tomorrow’s the last day. It’s going to be a good one.