TULSA, Okla. Saddle bronc rider Chad Ferley, riding in his first Pace Picante ProRodeo Series finale, had a stellar first day by tying his idol and five-time world champion Billy Etbauer for the first-round win Saturday night. Ferley spurred Sankey Rodeo's Sideshow for 87 points to tie Etbauer, who scored 87 points on Korkow Rodeo's Little Rose.
Ferley (Oelrichs, S.D.) and Etbauer, who was born in South Dakota and lives in Edmond, Okla., each took home $3,500 for their efforts. For Ferley, it was a perfect introduction to Pace Series finales.
"It's awesome, and Billy's always been an idol, so it's real fun to get to do a victory lap with Billy," Ferley said. "Hopefully, a guy can get another one like that tomorrow, keep it rolling and it will all work out. There's a lot of good bronc riders here, and it's hard to beat them, so a guy's got to be at the top of his game."
Sideshow carried cowboys to a pair of round wins at the Clark County Fair and Rodeo in Logandale, Nev., in early April. Etbauer said he'd never been on Little Rose, but was happy with his draw nonetheless.
"I knew he was a good horse, so I just tried to take care of things on my end," Etbauer said. "It was kind of spooky at the end there, but we got through it well and get to come back tomorrow."
The top eight cowboys and cowgirls in the seven events go on to the semifinal round on Sunday, with the top four from that round advancing to the Championship Round Sunday afternoon.
Bareback riding also ended in a tie, with Wes Stevenson and Andy Martinez posting matching 85-point rides. Stevenson (Kaufman, Texas) rode Joe Simon Rodeo's Shooting Star, while Martinez's score came aboard Sankey Rodeo's Eagle Feathers.
"Andy told me right before I got on him (Shooting Star) that he was a real good horse because he had won money on him," Stevenson said. "It's a blast riding bucking horses, but it sure is a lot more fun when you're winning some money."
Martinez was pleased to have the momentum heading into Sunday's eight-man semifinal round.
"There are going to be eight horses tomorrow that are going to be awesome, so we just have to come out and ride well again tomorrow and hopefully it goes as good as it did today," Martinez said. "You've got to ride well tomorrow to make it, and it's quite an accomplishment if you make it to the four-round."
Bull riding completed a roughstock trifecta of sorts, ending with identical scores at the top.
World Champion Matt Austin rode Andrews Rodeo's Jimbo for 90 points to tie 19-year-old star Sonny Murphy, who held on to Cervi & Guidry Rodeo's XS Energy for 90 points as well. Austin (Wills Point, Texas) had ridden XS Energy for 91 points the night before in the Dodge Championship Round of the Dodge Xtreme Bulls Ride Hard Tour event to finish in a tie for second in that round and second in the average race.
There were only five qualified rides in bull riding, so the final three spots in Sunday's semifinal round were filled based on the cowboys' Wrangler ProRodeo Winter Tour points standings coming into the event. Therefore, Dustin Elliott, the 2004 World Champion, last night's Dodge Xtreme Bulls champion Jason McClain and Fred Boettcher moved on to the eight-man semifinals.
Barrel racer Denise Adams Fea (Lufkin, Texas) won the first round with a Pace Chute-out record time of 12.53 seconds aboard her horse, Funny. Fea, who earned $4,000 for the win, finished .17 seconds ahead of Layna Kight (Summerfield, Fla.) for the victory.
In steer wrestling, former college football linebacker Wade Sumpter (Fowler, Colo.) was the quickest of the night with his 3.9-second run. He finished eight-tenths of a second ahead of Ronnie Fields (Oklahoma City, Okla.) to pick up the $4,000 check.
Team ropers Speed Williams and Clay O'Brien Cooper have 15 world titles between them, and they showed they will be a force to be reckoned with this weekend by winning Round 1 with a time of 4.6 seconds. Williams (Llano, Texas) and Cooper (Morgan Mill, Texas) finished four-tenths of a second ahead of the teams of Turtle Powell and Mickey Gomez and Nick Sartain and Shannon Frascht.
Tie-down roping went to the Chute-out's only two-event competitor, three-time world champion all-around cowboy Trevor Brazile. Brazile, who leads the all-around and tie-down roping world standings this year, stopped the clock in 7.6 seconds to edge reigning World Champion All-Around Cowboy Ryan Jarrett by two-tenths of a second. Unfortunately, Brazile had a rough night in the team roping finishing 10th with a time of 23.0 seconds and did not qualify for Sunday's semifinals.
The semifinal round will begin at 3 p.m. at the Tulsa Convention Center and will be followed immediately by the championship round.