The year-end overall winner and average winner in each event from this weekend’s event qualify for the NFR Open July 13-16 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Previously the national event was titled the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo and it was held in Kissimmee, Florida, in April. Now the finale of the PRCA circuit system is titled the NFR Open, and it will be hosted by the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo.

Breakaway Roping

Round one: Megan Lunak-Small was 3rd with a smoking run of 2.7! She broke the barrier in rounds 2 and 3, but still pulled a 4th place check in the average at the first ever WPRA Breakaway Roping. Sammy Jo Bird also qualified to the MPRF in Breakaway. She missed her first two calves, putting one ‘through the loop’ and caught her 3rd calf for a 4.0 flat. She was 5th in that round, one out of the money.

On a personal note, many of us gals threw a few breakaway loops back in high school and college; I was one of them. Riding a ‘ranch horse’ and neither of us had any box/barrier savvy. I could catch them in the practice pen as my 3 year old gelding ran by! Not very competitive at the rodeos, though. It has really evolved and it’s pretty neat to see the ladies included in another pro rodeo event!

I remember watching Megan teach a youth horsemanship clinic in Browning and being very impressed with her positive attitude and horsemanship skills.

She has overcome losing a thumb in a roping accident to be competitive again in the roping arena. She told us that Joe Beaver taped his thumb to his hand to figure out how to teach her to rope again. That’s perseverance when it would have been easier to walk away!

WPRA Montana Circuit

2018 Montana WPRA Rookie of the Year Tia Murphy and Ican Make U Famous (2012 mare by Famous Lane out of a Proudest Effort dam) were coming off an injury from last year so they had to work to get their confidence back. Placing high at Glasgow, Great Falls and Missoula in August was evidence their hard work was paying off. Because Tia is a teacher and has her summers off she is able to travel a lot with her two kids. Tia’s mom Charlene Aberg joins them when she gets a chance. Tia grew up in Cut Bank, and actually started competing in O-Mok-Sees at the Saddle Club as a little girl. With her work ethic and dedication, she is a great role model to aspiring barrel racers. Her daughter Brinli is getting started barrel racing, too.

In round one Tia tipped a barrel taking her out of the money. She split 4th place in round 2 with a time of 13.22 and ran a 13.05 in round 3 for a 2nd place check. Tia also cashed a 4th place check in the average!

Team Roping Round

Dustin Bird, Cut Bank/Ike Folsom, Dillon, 6.0. In round 3 they were 4th with a 10.1 in spite of a 5 second penalty for only roping 1 hind leg. They roped all 3 steers for a 2nd place check in the average.

Saddle Bronc

3rd Alan Gobert, Browning, 81; Second round: 2nd Alan Gobert, 79 on Painted Commotion. Alan finished 2nd in the Saddle Bronc Riding Average.

Tie-down Roping

Chad Johnson, Cut Bank, made his 23rd appearance at the MPRF! On a tough pen of kicking little calves he managed to get a check in every round: Round 1- 4th, 16.3; Round 2 – 4th again and 4 seconds faster 12.1; Round 3 he was 3rd with a run of 11.0 flat. Chad finished the finals 2nd in the Average.

Bull Riding

The bulls were definitely winning with so few being ridden, but in Round 2 Kobe Whitford, was 1st with 88.5 points on J Bar J’s Little Hoot, and Preston Louis turned in a 77 point ride for 2nd. In the third round Cole Wagner, on Duane Kesler’s Ivy League, and Bo Vocu, on J Bar J’s Big Block, tied for first with 84 point scores.

For the average in 3rd Kobe Whitford had 88.5 points on one head, Bo Vocu and Cole Wagner, 84 tied for 4th.

Cole Wagner, Valier, won the Montana PRCA Bull riding year-end Championship. He went into the finals with the lead but didn’t ride his bulls in Round 1 and 2 (MPRF); then rode a Reride bull in the 3rd round for 84 points to split the go-round win and clinch the year-end title.

The 25-year-old native of Valier has been riding bulls since he was a youngster and is no stranger to winning as he won these rodeos in Montana last year: Big Timber, Great Falls, Helena and Drummond with 2nd place finishes in Belt, Augusta, Plentywood, Shelby and Dillon. With the win Cole punched his ticket to the NFR Open Rodeo. (formerly the top 2 qualified to the RAM Circuit finals.)

These results are proudly sponsored by Norman’s Sport and Western and Norman’s Outdoor Sports.

For more area sports coverage of last week’s action, pick up a copy or subscribe to the Glacier Reporter, Cut Bank Pioneer Press, Shelby Promoter or The Valierian at  https://www.cutbankpioneerpress.com/site/services/