San Diego Finals!

Bright sunshine and thousands of rodeo fans cheered on some of the best in the game as Round 3 featured the top eight of the highest/fastest scoring cowboys & cowgirls from the previous two days, and the field was then whittled down to the Top Four gunning for the big payout.

The bareback champion is Jacob Lees of Caldwell, Idaho, who rode C5 Rodeo’s fabulous F13 Virgil for a well-deserved 93 pts. In the followup interview with Alicia Erickson, said Jacob, “Virgil is an awesome horse and I’ve always wanted to draw him.” Well, he got his chance — and he didn’t waste it.

In TDR it was won by 4X World Champion (3X in TDR, 1-All Around) tie-down roper Tuf Cooper at a sizzling 7 sec’s. John Douch won second place riding Logan Bird’s gorgeous Peso. “You are looking at the very first Tie-Down Roping Champion of San Diego!” exclaimed Alicia. 

In BAW, it was so exciting because two of the cowgirls competing, Kelsie Domer and Taylor Munsell, both tied at 1.8 sec’s and as the freewheeling San Diego Rodeo said in the rules – “No Co-Champions” it resulted in a rope-off. Calgary Stampede winner Taylor Munsell missed, and Kelsie Domer emerged the champion.

Everyone (in my house) was on the edge of their seat as the bronc riding started, and what a competition! It was Zeke Thurston of Big Valley, Alta, on board Cessford, Alta’s Big Stone Rodeo 711 Rubels (who was raised by Cooper Clan in Senlac, Saskatchewan) knocked it out of the park with a spectacular 89.5 pts. Dawson Hay of Wildwood, Alta, finished third and wowed the crowd with his trademark “get off” as he let’s the bucking horse catapult him high in the air to land on his feet – lots of flair, that man. Said Zeke, “It was sure nice that Rubels and I got to show off together.”

Steer wrestling fans were treated to some super-fast action as Bridger Anderson of North Dakota got a home run when he dropped his steer in 3.9 sec’s. Stephen Culling of BC finished second. Said Bridger, “This is an amazing venue.”

Logan Medlin and Marcus Theriot won the team roping – (I’ll post their time in a bit…)

The barrel racing was electric as  Sue Smith of Idaho and her terrific buckskin won in 14.89. At 68 years old, Sue was by far the oldest competitor in Petco Park, and she was the hands-down crowd favourite. “I’ve never been in a rodeo like this before,” she told Alicia. “The fans are amazing.”

And finally, it was a bullrider with a name like an Eastern banker, Trey Benton III of Richards, Texas, who topped the field with 89 on C5 Rodeo’s Dance Monkey. He told Alicia, “This is the greatest rodeo I’ve ever been to. These fans are amazing.”

The top four Canadian money earners were:

SB Zeke Thurston, Big Valley, Alta $25,250

BB Clint Laye, Cadogan, Alta $21,375

SW Stephen Culling, Fort St John, BC $17,250

SB Dawson Hay, Wildwood, Alta $15,062.50

For San Diego, the rodeo was the first of its kind in this idyllic city and the fans came out in droves. San Diego Rodeo only offered a bit over 20,000 seats, and Saturday night was a complete sell-out with 20,000+ fans in the spacious Petco Park. 

San Diego Rodeo was an invitational rodeo, so it was not “approved” – as in: the payout of $20,000, $15,000, $10,000 and $5,000 does not count towards the standings, but it sure counts in the bank accounts. And, by the way, each round paid on a rising scale, culminating in the big payout – all in U.S. funds!

My congratulations to Vern McDonald and crew of C5 Rodeo – you knocked it out of the park. Pictures coming soon from Alicia! -TM