ODESSA, Texas Wes Stevenson started his 2006 rodeo season with a big win at the SandHills Stock Show and Rodeo in Odessa, Texas, in front of a sold-out crowd totaling 5,000.
Stevenson, a native of the Lone Star State, initially drew Vold Rodeo's Pine Cone, but after an equipment failure during the eight-second ride, he was awarded a re-ride. Stevenson (Kaufman) then matched wits with Vold Rodeo's Sky Dancer for 81 points. That, added to the 81 he received in the first round on Vold Rodeo's Eagle Feathers, put him in a tie for the average with Logan Hodson (162 points on two head).
"That was a good horse, and they have won a lot of money on him," said Stevenson, who picked up a check worth $5,313. "I am glad it all worked out for me tonight. I feel like I am riding with the same confidence I was at the Wrangler NFR, so I hope I can keep it rolling all year long."
Hodson (Goodwell, Okla.) won the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour Round with an 83-point ride on Vold Rodeo's Big Valley. He pocketed $4,539 for his efforts in Odessa.
The SandHills Stock Show and Rodeo marked the first stop on the 2006 Wrangler ProRodeo Winter Tour, and 2006 also marked the first time Odessa was a stop on the 12-stop Tour. Contestants not only compete for money at the Tour rodeos, but for valuable Tour points that qualify them for the Pace Picante ProRodeo Chute-out upon the conclusion of the Winter Tour.
The Pace Chute-out will be held May 13-14 in Tulsa, Okla. All 12 stops on the Winter Tour will be televised on Fox Sports Network for the first time in history, and the SandHills Stock Show and Rodeo is scheduled to air Jan. 20. Check local listings for times in your area.
Chad Van Campen picked up the Tour round win and the average title in steer wrestling after stopping the clock in 3.9 seconds in the final round. That, combined with his 4.6-second winning run in the first round and a 5.7 in the second round, gave him a total of 14.2 seconds on three head and a check worth $7,244. Van Campen (Granada, Colo.) finished nearly two seconds ahead of the rest of the field. K.C. Jones and Jason Miller tied for second with a total time of 16.1 seconds. Van Campen was aboard his stellar horse Caesar, which finished third in the PRCA/AQHA Horse of the Year voting in 2005 and the horse that steer wrestlers Garrett Nokes and Ryan Jarrett rode at the 2005 Wrangler NFR.
"He is a solid horse, and it doesn't matter what situation you are in, he can put you in a winning position," said Van Campen of his 19-year-old horse. "This was a big win for me and a great way to start the year."
It has been a roller-coaster month for team roper Kory Koontz. Koontz (Sudan, Texas) was in the hunt for a world title in December when his partner, Jake Barnes, suffered a devastating injury in the fifth round of the Wrangler NFR. Koontz stayed strong and finished the 2005 Wrangler NFR with Trevor Brazile.
Now, fast-forward three weeks to the Wrangler Tour round in Odessa. Koontz was partnered with David Key (Caldwell, Texas) and they stopped the clock in 5.5 seconds to win the round. That winning run also gave them a total time of 17.4 seconds on three head and a second-place finish in the average race. They each picked up $3,944.
Travis Tryan and Allen Bach finished atop the leaderboard in the average race with a total of 16.2 seconds on three head. Tryan (Billings, Mont.) and Bach (Weatherford, Texas) finished second in the first round with a 4.6-second run, finished out of the money in the second round and were fourth in the Tour round with a time of 6.3 seconds. They pocketed $5,755 to get their season rolling.
South Dakota is known for great saddle bronc riders, and Chad Ferley is looking to add his name to the list of world champions that includes his traveling partner and reigning world champion Jeffery Willert. Ferley (Oelrichs) got his 2006 season off on a high note by winning the average title with 166 points on two head, edging six-time world champion Dan Mortensen, who finished with 164 points.
For Ferley, it was a sense of redemption in Odessa after breaking his leg in 2005. That injury kept him sidelined for most of the year. This year, he had a different outcome and walked away with the title and $7,680. Mortensen (Billings, Mont.) won the Tour round with an 85-point ride aboard Vold Rodeo's Elvis.
It was the Monty show in tie-down roping in Odessa. 2004 world champion Monty Lewis (Hereford, Texas) stopped the clock in 9.0 seconds to win the Tour round. Monty Eakin (Slaton, Texas) finished second to Lewis in the Tour round with a 9.1, but captured the average title with a total time of 28.3 seconds on three head. Eakin collected a check totaling $4,176 to jumpstart his 2006 campaign.
Barrel racer Layna Kight (Summerfield, Fla.) stopped the clock in 14.01 seconds to win the Tour round, with Sabrina Ketcham (Yeso, N.M.) finishing second with a 14.14-second run. However, Ketcham picked up the average title with 42.62 seconds on three runs, while Kight was second with a 42.66-second total. Ketcham won $6,944, while Kight left town with $7,136.
Bull rider Dusty Higgins, who is originally from New Mexico but now calls Midland, Texas, home, finished atop the leaderboard in the Tour round and the average. Higgins rode Triple V Rodeo's Tin Man for 81 points to win the Tour round and finish with 160 points on two head. He won a total of $5,040.
The next Wrangler ProRodeo Tour stop will be the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo on Jan. 22 in Denver. The National Western is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.