North Platte, Neb. (June 13, 2018) – Some of the best cowboy and cowgirl talent in the nation converge on North Platte each June for the annual Buffalo Bill Rodeo.
World champions and those in the top fifteen in the world standings will compete for over $100,000 over the four days of the rodeo, June 13-16.
But it was a weekend warrior who leads the steer wrestling after the first day of competition.
Steer wrestler Tee Burress, Piedmont, S.D., leads the pack of 86 steer wrestlers after competition on June 13 with a time of 3.6 seconds.
The 33-year-old cowboy has a wife, three kids and a business to run at home, so he chooses to rodeo on weekends.
He has competed at the North Platte rodeo six or eight times since he began rodeo, but the first time he came, it was in the bull riding.
He rode bulls for several years, switching over to the steer wrestling at age 21, “when I gained twenty pounds,” he joked.
Burress and his father Marty co-own a construction company, which gives them more freedom in their schedule. His dad ropes at local rodeos. “Dad likes to rope, so when he goes and ropes, I stay home,” Burress said, “and when I go and steer wrestle, he stays home. It works out good.”
Burress and his wife have a daughter, who is nine, and sons who are ages four and five. The boys love rodeo. “You can’t keep them away from the arena,” Burress said. “I suppose in another year or two, I’ll have to slow down more to take them to rodeos.” The boys aren’t looking to ride bulls, like their dad did. “Their mother has talked them out of bull riding. They’re talking about being steer wrestlers and ropers,” he said. “I keep telling them they can ride one of those (roping) steers, but they look at me funny. But that’s fine. They can do what they want.”
In the saddle bronc riding, it was a rematch between a cowboy and a bucking horse.
Oklahoma cowboy Hardy Braden, who won his event at the 2017 Buffalo Bill Rodeo, drew the same horse this year that he rode last year, Beutler and Son Rodeo’s Painted Desert.
Last year, he scored 86.5 points. This year, it was 81, good enough for the lead but probably not good enough to last through the next three nights of rodeo.
His eight second ride was a battle; the horse turned back towards the chutes instead of going straight out. “It’s a little harder for a bronc rider to spur when the horse is turning back. I was trying to stay off her head the best I could and stay in the saddle, but it was a fight towards the end.”
Last year was magical for Braden. He spent most of the rodeo season in the top 15 in the world standings and qualified for his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR). While in Las Vegas for ten days of the WNFR, he earned about $160,000, which he didn’t spend on frivolous things. “The government got a big chunk of it,” he said, “and we invested some of it.” He didn’t buy any more cattle for his herd; (“I have all the cows I can handle”) but he did buy a “toy,” a utility vehicle to be used around his ranch. “I could use it as a tax write-off,” he said. “I figured, why not?”
Braden is ranked twenty-fourth in the world standings; the top fifteen on September 30, the end of the rodeo year, go on to compete at the WNFR. He’s not concerned about his ranking; he knows the busiest and richest part of the rodeo season is about to start. “There’s still a lot of year left. The months of July, August and September are pretty nuts.” Braden knows qualifying a second time is “attainable. If things go right, and you can draw decent, it’s very attainable.” Drawing good horses to ride is the key. “It’s just trying to find a good dance partner.”
After the morning’s slack and the evening competition, other leaders are bareback rider Grant Denny, Minden, Nev. (81 points), tie-down roper Jordan Ketscher (8.3 seconds), team ropers Curry Kirchner, Ames, Okla. and Chase Boekhaus, Rolla, Kan. (4.4 seconds), barrel racer Kelly Bruner, Millsap, Texas (17.41 seconds) and bull rider Kenan Isabell, Gatesville, Texas (84 points).
The 2019 Miss Rodeo Nebraska was crowned, with the title going to Eva Oliver of Merriman, Neb. The twenty-year-old cowgirl is a student at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis, where she is studying veterinary technology. She will serve as lady in waiting until January 1, 2019, when she will begin her reign, and will represent the state at the 2019 Miss Rodeo America pageant in Las Vegas. She is the daughter of Chuck and Stacie Oliver.
The second of four nights of rodeo takes place Thursday, June 14 at 8 pm. Fans are encouraged to wear pink to show awareness of breast cancer, and proceeds will be donated to the Callahan Cancer Center in North Platte. Tickets are available at www.NebraskalandDays.com and at the gate.
The results from the first day are below (note all results are unofficial):
Results, 1st Performance and slack, June 13, 2018.
North Platte, Nebraska – Buffalo Bill Rodeo
1. Grant Denny, Minden, Nev. 81 points on Shattered Dream; 2. Justin Pollmiller, Weatherford, Okla. 75; no other qualified rides.
First go-round results
1. Tee Burress, Piedmont S.D. 3.6 seconds; 2. Jon Herl, Goodland, Kan. 3.9; 3. (tie) Tyler Waguespack, Gonzales, La. and Cyler Dowling, Newell, S.D. 4.0 each.
First go-round results (the first go-round was completed with tonight’s performance)
1. Jordan Ketscher, Squaw Valley, Calif. 8.3 seconds; 2. (tie) Lane Livingston, Seymour, Texas and Cody Huber, Albia, Iowa 8.4; 4. Stetson Vest, Childress, Texas 8.8; 5. Ty Harris, San Angelo, Texas 8.9; 6. Trell Etbauer, Goodwell, Okla. 9.0.
Saddle bronc riding
1. Hardy Braden, Welch, Okla. 81 points on Painted Desert; 2. Isaac Diaz, Desdemona, Fla. 80; 3. (tie) Taygen Schuelke, Newell, S.D. and Dawson Dahm, Tomahawk, Calif. 79 each.
1. Curry Kirchner, Ames, Okla./Chase Boekhaus, Rolla, Kan. 4.4 seconds; 2. Jake Orman, Prairie, Miss./Will Woodfin, Marshall, Texas 5.3; 3. Jr Dees, Aurora, S.D./Quincy Opela, Stapleton, Neb. 5.4; 4. Cole Cooper, Sheridan, Wyo./JC Flake, Mesa, Ariz.
1. Kelly Bruner, Millsap, Texas 17.41 seconds; 2. Shelby Janssen, Coleman, Okla. 17.5; 3. Lacinda Rose, Willard, Mo. 17.85; 4. Brittany Pozzi-Tonozzi, Victoria, Texas 18.26.
1. Kenan Isabell, Gatesville, Texas 84 points on Classic Tide; no other qualified rides.
** All results are unofficial.