Hangin’ On

Fine Efforts Headline First Night At Rodeo

Cole Picton of Marshall, Missouri, above, competes in bareback riding. P-J photos by Valory S. Isaacson

GERRY — Despite the threat of rain in the area for the 73rd consecutive edition of the Gerry Fire Department’s professional rodeo, a large crowd of enthusiastic fans turned out Wednesday to cheer on outstanding efforts on opening night.

The action kicked off with close performances in the bareback bronc event as four cowboys had successful rides. Tyler Waltz from Martin, Tennessee, who suffered a serious leg injury in Salt Lake City a week ago, decided to compete despite the injury and had bad luck on his first outing as his horse failed to perform well.

As a result, he was given a re-ride by the judges and he took full advantage of the opportunity by taking first place on the night with an 81-point ride.

Cole Picton of Marshall, Missouri scored 75 points on his bronc for second while Tanner Phelps of Dalton, Georgia, was a close third with a 74-point ride.

The only successful ride in the saddle bronc event was by a New York cowboy from Pifford, who posted a ride of 78.5. The Painted Pony Rodeo bulls proved too tough as there were no successful rides on the night. In addition, three bull riders who were traveling together failed to arrive for the performance due to traffic problems. Unfortunately, they forfeit their entry fees for failing to show.

Jake Thomas of Buncombe, Illinois, below, holds on for dear life in the steer wrestling at the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department Rodeo on Wednesday. P-J photos by Valory S. Isaacson

Close competition was the name of the game in the steer wrestling as five cowboys threw their steers to the arena dirt in under seven seconds. They were led by Cody Metsker of Taylorville, Illinois, who posted a possible arena record at 4.5 seconds. Ben Kilburg of LaMotte, Iowa, was second with a time of 5.6 seconds.

It was tough going for the team ropers, who paid $225 each for entry fees, as seven of the 10 teams failed to successfully rope their steers’ horns and hind legs while three other teams were penalized five seconds for roping only one of the required two hind legs. However, Ryan Von Ahn of Palmyra, Missouri, and Derrick Peterson of Louisburg, Kansas, posted an outstanding score on their steer, roping it in 5.4 seconds.

Matt McKinstry of Fort Ann, New York, led the tie-down ropers by tying his calf in 9.7 seconds. He was followed closely by Bryan McClellan of Climax, Georgia, at 10.7 and Charlie Goerlach of Greenfield Center, New York, with a 12.7 time. Thirteen-time First Frontier champion, Carmine Nastri of Ballston, New York, competing at age 50-plus, would have placed fourth, but was penalized 10 seconds because his horse left the gate early.

As usual the cowgirls’ barrel racing was extremely close with only one-quarter of a second separating the top five ladies. Jodi Colton of Manchester, Tennessee, circled the three barrels on her horse in 14.63 for first place while Robin Weaver of Mahaffey, Pennsylvania, placed second at 14.64, one-hundredth of a second behind.

The barbecue beef dinners were again a big success as chef Bruce Gustafson reports that 870 dinners were sold and the dinner line had to be closed at 7:30 p.m. The dinners will again be served each evening through Saturday at 5 p.m. The midway featuring games and food concessions also opens at 5 p.m.

The rodeo action continues tonight as well as Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. as more than 250 cowboys and cowgirls from 34 states are competing for nearly $50,000 in prize money. All proceeds benefit the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department. Additional information is available at the rodeo website www.gerryrodeo.org or by phone at 985-4847 or 1-888-985-4847.