- Ann Bleiker
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RENO, Nev. Two-time and reigning world champion bareback rider Will Lowe and reigning world champion steer wrestler Lee Graves showed the 9,000 fans at the 87th annual Reno Rodeo on June 24, that the gold buckle still fits.
Lowe (Canyon, Texas) won the average title with a three-head total of 253 points. The 23-year old pocketed $9,406 after placing in all three rounds en route to the average victory. In the first round, Lowe finished second with an 86-point ride, just three points behind traveling partner Tom McFarland (Wickenburg, Ariz.). In the second round, Lowe tied with Tyson Thompson for eighth with a score of 80 points. He returned in the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour round posting an 87, two points behind 2006 Pace Picante ProRodeo Chute-out champion Andy Martinez.
Martinez (Pavillion, Wyo.) rode Flying Five Rodeo's Miss Amerititle for 89 points to capture the Tour Round title. McFarland and Martinez finished second in the average behind Lowe with a total of 249 points.
Graves (Calgary, Alberta) was equally successful in his event, picking up checks worth $9,278. In the first round, he tied for fifth with a time of 4.5 seconds but finished out of the money in the second round. He rebounded and turfed his steer in 4.1 seconds to win the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour Round and the average by a full second. Graves finished the three-head competition with a time of 13.2 seconds to outdistance Oklahoma's Spud Duvall and fellow Canadian Curtis Cassidy, who finished with a 14.2.
The Reno Rodeo marked the first stop on the 2006 Wrangler ProRodeo Summer Tour. Contestants not only compete for money at the Tour rodeos, but for valuable Tour points that qualify them for the ProRodeo Tour Summer Finale upon the conclusion of the Winter Tour.
The ProRodeo Tour Summer Finale will be held Sept. 28-30 in Omaha, Neb. Eight of the 12 stops (including Reno) on the Summer Tour will be televised on Fox Sports Network. Check local listings for times in your area.
Bull rider Casey Baize was the big money winner in Reno, cashing checks worth $13,225. Baize (San Angelo, Texas) won the average with 170 points on two head. He finished in a tie for second in the first round with an 88 and was one of only three riders to make the eight-second whistle in the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour Round. He posted an 82-point ride in the Tour Round to finish behind Clayton Foltyn. Foltyn (El Campo, Texas) rodeo Flying U Rodeo's Mr. Bond for 84 points and finished second in the average with 166. Trent Cormier won the first round with an 89-point ride on Big Bend Rodeo's Stockland Livestock.
Two-time college national champion Houston Hutto picked up the average title in the tie-down roping with a total time of 28.9 seconds on three head. Hutto (Del Rio, Texas) finished ahead of Justin Macha (Needville, Texas) in the average race but Macha finished atop the leaderboard for the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour Round with a time of 9.1 seconds. Hutto and Doug Pharr (Resaca, Ga.) finished in a tie for second in the Tour round with identical times of 10.3 seconds. Cody Ohl captured the top spot in the opening round with a time of 8.5 seconds, while Cash Myers won the second round in a time of 8.4 seconds.
It was a logjam at the top of the leaderboard in the team roping with Wade Wheatley and Kyle Lockett tying with Tanner Bryson and Bryon Wilkerson for the average title with identical times of 17.5 seconds on three head. Wheatley (Hughson, Calif.) and Lockett (Ivanhoe, Calif.) placed in all three rounds en route to the title and left Reno $9,219 richer. Bryson (Cornville, Ariz.) and Wilkerson (Duncan, Ariz.) didn't place in the first two rounds but smoked the field in the Wrangler ProRodoeo Tour Round with a time of 5.4 seconds, a full second ahead of Wheatley and Lockett. The run was quick enough to move Bryson and Wilkerson into a tie for the average and they won a total of $8,163 for their efforts.
Saddle bronc rider Chad Ferley began the Summer Tour like he did the Winter Tour, with a win. Ferley, who won the average at the SandHills Rodeo in Odessa, Texas, to start the Winter Tour, won the average title in Reno with a three-head total of 247 points and pocketed $9,819. Ferley (Oelrichs, S.D.) finished sixth in the first round with an 80-point ride and returned in the second round posting an 87 on Western Rodeo's Smokin Smurf to win the round.
The Wrangler ProRodeo Tour Round was won by Cody Wright and Josh Reynolds with 86-point rides on Big Bend Rodeo's Cool Toddy and Big Bend Rodeo's No Dice, respectively. Ferley finished in a tie for fifth with a score of 80 points.
Terri Kaye Kirkland and her black mare, Ali, turned in a smoking run in the second round en route to the average title. Kirkland (Billings, Mont.) recorded a time of 16.73 seconds in the second round besting the field by three tenths of a second. Lindsay Sears was Kirkland's closest competitor in the second round with a run of 17.03. Kirkland won the average with a total time of 51.42 seconds on three runs and won a total of $8,441. Vicki Solmonsen (Riverton, Utah) won the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour Round with a time of 17.06 seconds, finishing ahead of 2006 Pace Picante ProRodeo Chute-out champion Mary Burger (Pauls Valley, Okla.) with a time of 17.09.
The all-around title went to B.J. Campbell (Benton City, Wash.) with a total of $10,674 earned in steer wrestling and team roping.
The next stop on the Wrangler ProRodeo Summer Tour will be the Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo in Prescott, Ariz., on July 4.