Wet beginning poses no 'damper' for 52nd Stampede

Vicky McCray
Special to the News-Argus

Dustin Jenkins of Missoula drew Lowrider in the bull riding event at this year’s Stampede. This bull won the Stampede for his rider last year. Jenkins was not quite as fortunate, as he did not stay on the full 8 seconds.       Photos by Vicky McCray

The Coppertown Clown, Bert Davis, presents his Muttley Crew. Rocket pushes the barrel while Tick, beckoned by Davis to lend a paw, sneaks through.     

TETWP-Central Montana had no problem finding a number of kids willing to show their toughness for the opening of the 52nd C.M. Russell Stampede. The shirts were donated by Central Montana Equipment (John McCray).

Dark, heavy cloud hung ominously over the Judith Basin County Fairgrounds on Sunday afternoon. In the stands waited the rodeo crowd, many of them preparing for the onslaught of rain that was certain to come, while others maintained a positive outlook. Certainly, it wouldn’t rain on this “parade.”
But rain it did … beginning with a few drops and eventually pouring, driving out of the stands even the most seasoned rodeo-goer. Fortunately, the grounds include several covered pavilions and people were able to find standing room under cover. They waited out the storm, most of them holding their hands over their hearts as Stanford High School senior Rachel Burns belted out the National Anthem, opening the 52nd annual C.M. Russell Stampede.
Slowly the fans returned to the bleachers, the rain let up and the sun came out. It was a glorious day for a rodeo. Sparky and Marlene Dreesen’s J Bar J stock performed well, giving the cowboys a real run for their money.
Barney Sheridan of Arlee welcomed everyone to the rodeo and introduced Bugs Bunny, the horse of the day. This year’s Stampede was the last rodeo for the J Bar J breed stallion. The Dreesens have decided to “put him out to pasture,” so to speak. This horse has made 240 trips and prior to Sunday had only been ridden six times. The six scores were never below 85 points and three of them were 90 or higher.
Dillon cowboy Cody Miller, the #9 man in the Montana Circuit, drew the horse and stayed on for 8 seconds, his ride earning him 88 points and first place in the saddle bronc event. He pocketed $722 and took home championship spurs donated by Ryan Blank and the Sundown Motel. Following Miller in second, third and fourth, respectively, were Wyatt Hurst of Brockway, Montana, 83, $541; Travis Nelson of Philip, South Dakota, 82, $361; and in a tie for fourth, Cooper DeWitt of Rio Rico, Arizona, and Tyrell Smith of Great Falls, 78, $90 each. Smith’s win came after his third ride, which originally was no scored by one judge but awarded by the other.
The afternoon began with the bareback riding, with Power cowboy and six-time NFR qualifier Jessy Davis riding Night Hawk. Sheridan said Davis was approaching the $1 million mark for his career earnings on Sunday. He earned an 86-point ride and first place money of $556, not enough to reach the million but certainly enough to be valuable to the goal. He also took home a beautiful set of spurs for his Stampede bareback championship, compliments of Blank and the Sundown Motel.
Second place went to Wyatt Bloom of Bend, Oregon. He earned $417 with an 81-point ride. Justin Miller of Billings rode for 79 points and $278, while Tristan Hansen earned fourth place and $139 for his 75-point ride.
Only one bull rider, Devon Mitchell of Shepherd, managed to stay on his bovine steed for the full 8 seconds. He earned 76 points for his ride on a bull justly named Chaos & Disaster.
Slack for the timed events began at the fairgrounds on Sunday at 8 a.m. With only 10 participants allowed in the performance, this time gives all entries a chance to take home the money, and many of the slack competitors did just that.
With 35 steer wrestlers entered in the Stampede, 25 of them could be seen Sunday morning. First place was a tie between Newt Novich and Reef Mills. They both wrestled their steer in 4.6 seconds and earned $888 each. Novich won in the morning and Mills in the afternoon. Beau Clark of Belgrade, who went to the NFR in 2012, took second place Sunday afternoon with a time of 4.8. He pocketed $508. Third place was also a tie, this time between Jordan Holland of Dillon in the afternoon and Ron Schenk during slack. Each cowboy’s time was 5.0, earning them $127 apiece.
The time to beat in tie-down roping, 9.7 seconds, belonged to Ryan Siemsen during slack. No one in the performance managed to beat it, but the other four winners competed in the afternoon. Bryant Mikkelson of Buffalo claimed All-around Cowboy with his second-place winnings of $529. His time of 10.1 seconds and earnings were tied by George Marcenko of Havre. In fourth place was Steele De Paoli, with 10.2 seconds.
The rodeo crowd managed to see four of the six winners in the team roping event: first, third, fifth and sixth places. The first-place team of Casey Tew of Billings and Justin Viles of Cody, Wyoming, did the job in 5.3 seconds and earned $1,090 each. Third place went to Tanner Patzke of Klamath Falls, Oregon, and Sid Sporer of Cody, 5.7 seconds, $714; Max Kuttler of American Falls, Idaho, and Ike Folsom of Dillon took third, 10.2 seconds, $338; and B.J. Brown and Jack Brown, both of Whitlash, Montana, took sixth, 10.4 seconds, $188.
During slack Chaz Kananen and Shane Bessette earned second with a time of 5.5 seconds for $902 and Ben Ayre and Bill Ayre earned fourth with a time of 6.2 seconds for $526.
The barrel racing event was just the opposite, with the majority of the winners riding during slack. Only two competitors in the afternoon performance made money: Lindsay Kruse of Great Falls tied for third with slack performers Tenley Keller and Heather Knerr with a time of 17.84. They earned $436 each. Darcy Mapston of Belt took eighth with a time of 17.99. She pocketed $62.
First place went to Rene Cloninger with 17.74 seconds for $716; second to Carrie Murnion with a time of 17.79 seconds for $622; sixth to Becky Fuson with a time of 17.86 for $249; and seventh to Danna Jo Whitford with a time of 17.95 seconds for $156.
The Coppertown Clown, Bert Davis, had never been to Stanford before. He spent a fair amount of time trying to discover what “IDK” means in text but finally decided no one knew – “bunch of stupid people.”
Sheridan disciplined him when he littered in the arena and insisted Davis pick up his mess. He worked at it for quite some time, but didn’t seem to be making any headway; he was getting too much help from a furry friend, Kitty, one of the many dogs the clown travels with. This act, “Garbageman Nightmare,” was the 2012 and 2014 Contract Acts Showcase Comedy Champion and was nominated for the 2013 PRCA Comedy Act of the Year.
Later in the afternoon a second specialty act presented the Muttley Crew, a cast of 10 rescue dogs – all different ages and all different breeds – that jumped through hoops and performed other tricks, including a jump over four dogs in memory of Evel Knievel.  Among the dogs were Rocket and Tick, who performed together, Rocket rolling a barrel and Tick crawling through it as it rolled.
Six of the dogs were with Bert and his wife Frannie on Season 5 of “America’s Got Talent.”
The intermission for the afternoon saw an overwhelming number of youngsters ready to scramble after the calves in the arena in hopes of grabbing the ribbon tied around one of the animal’s tails. The winner of the younger age group, 5-8, was a young man from Billings named Cash. The winner of the older group was repeat winner, Kain Vincent.
Ryan Polzin was the lucky winner of the National Finals Rodeo performance tickets and $300 in cash.
The lucky 50/50 winner – whoever he might be – pocketed $395.



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