Steer wrestler Dallas Frank turned pro in 2000, but until recently, he focused all of his efforts on competitions north of the border.
Frank was content to compete in Canadian rodeos while trying to achieve his goal of qualifying for the Canadian Finals Rodeo. In fact, he didn't purchase his PRCA card until 2003.
In his first two years as a PRCA competitor, Frank won $26,520. Every one of his checks came from Canadian rodeos. But Frank earned his first trip to the CFR in 2004 and, perhaps, having accomplished one goal, decided to branch out.
He planned a trip to Arizona, where he competed at rodeos in Scottsdale, Yuma and Tucson. Frank finished just out of the money in Scottsdale and Yuma. In Tucson, however, it was a different story.
Competing at La Fiesta de los Vaqueros, the fifth stop on the 12-city Wrangler Winter ProRodeo Tour, Frank won Round 1 and the Wrangler Tour round, en route to capturing the aggregate title with a three-head total of 19.7 seconds. He picked up a paycheck for $6,994 the first one he's ever won in the United States.
And now, he's hoping for more. When asked if he's planning to enter more U.S. rodeos, Frank, 25, of Stony Plain, Alberta, didn't hesitate.
"You betcha," Frank said. "We'll go down to Laughlin (Nev.), Logandale (Nev.), then we'll come home and go back for Clovis (Calif.), Red Bluff (Calif.) and Guymon (Okla.). We're going to the rest of the Tour rodeos."
Frank has been traveling with Canadian cowboys Lee Laskosky and Mark Roy. Laskosky is a cagey veteran who has earned several National Finals Rodeo qualifications. He retired from competition for seven years before deciding to return.
Laskosky's influence has been positive for Frank.
"He's helped me a lot," Frank said. "He's been there and done that. He's helped me with almost every thing there is in rodeo."
In Tucson, Frank used Laskosky's horse (Hammer) in the first two rounds. When Laskosky had to leave for home, Frank rode Lin Churchill's horse, Razor, in the Wrangler Tour round.
Like all of the steer wrestlers, Frank had to deal with some tough conditions in Tucson. Rain made the ground sticky, which can make life difficult for a steer wrestler. But Frank put the field on its heels by recording a run of 6.2 seconds to win the opening round.
In the second round, Frank faced a severe challenge. The steer he had drawn was a tough one.
"They were 15.3 (seconds) on him the first time and then had a no time," Frank said. "He was a hard-running steer and I had to run him down there quite a ways."
Frank posted a time of 7.7 seconds on the animal. While it wasn't good enough to place in the round, it kept him alive in the race for the aggregate title.
"I kind of safetied up for the average because I had a pretty good lead on the rest of the field. I knew what the guys were doing. I didn't want to break the barrier."
In the Wrangler Tour round, Frank went last, which helped him size up the situation.
"The steers were going left real bad in that short go and you couldn't be too late, otherwise they would get to the fence and you wouldn't be able to catch one," Frank said.
Frank's Wrangler Tour round steer went left, too, but he was prepared for the move and countered it successfully.
"I got a pretty decent start and ran him over there along the fence," Frank said.
The 5.8-second time was good for the win and locked up the biggest victory of Frank's ProRodeo career. Now, he's thankful he finally decided to head south for the winter.
"I just decided to go and see how it would work out," Frank said. "I always dreamed of making the NFR. I thought I might as well try it. I didn't have my cows to feed. I sent them out to the feedlot before the CFR and I knew I wouldn't get them back before March and they don't start calving until the middle of the month, so I had the time to go."
Frank didn't have the money to make the trip; he just put it on his MasterCard. But now, thanks to his win in Tucson, he'll have the money to pay it off when he gets his bill.
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