DUNCAN, Okla. – Robert Etbauer had more influence on a young Dalton Davis than he may have ever known.
“Robert Etbauer got me to riding broncs,” Davis said of the two-time world champion from Goodwell, Okla. “I was down at his house roping calves, and he convinced me to get on some steers. I really didn’t want to. I was scared of it.”
That fear didn’t last long, and it’s paying off quite well for Davis, a 22-year-old cowboy from Holcomb, Kan. On Thursday night, he posted an 82-point ride on New Frontier Rodeo’s Satin Sheets to win the first round of the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo at the Stephens County Fair and Expo Center.
“I got on some and just fell in love immediately,” he said.
That love affair has worked out pretty well. As a permit-holder who utilized his 2014 season as a try-out period for a career in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, Davis earned enough money in the circuit to qualify for this week’s finale, which features the top 12 contestants in each event from the region made up primarily of Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.
“Winning the round means a whole lot to me,” said Davis, who earned $1,130. “This is the peak of our year and gives us a chance to win some money.”
It also opens the door to win the average championship, the honor given to the contestants in each event who finish the three-round event with the best cumulative time or score. Davis has a lead in the average race but will have to maintain that advantage through the final two performances, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
“This just skyrockets your confidence,” said Davis, a senior at Southwestern Oklahoma State University who leads the college standings in the Central Plains Region. “You’re riding against Wade Sundell, whose always at the National Finals and a big threat to win it all; Ty Atchison, whose been to the finals; and Jesse Kirby and Hardy Braden. All those guys ride very well, so to be able to get the round win and have a good start really helps.”
Other first-round winners were bareback rider Caine Riddle, 82 points on New Frontier Rodeo’s Elvis; steer wrestler Stockton Graves (3.8 seconds); team ropers Cole Markham and Tyler Worley (4.9 seconds); tie-down roper Ryan Jarrett (7.5 seconds); barrel racer Gretchen Benbenek (16.00 seconds); and bull rider Sage Kimzey (85 points on New Frontier’s Night Rider).
Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo
Bareback riding: 1. Caine Riddle, 82 points on New Frontier Rodeo’s Sinner, $1,130; 2. (tie) Justin Pollmiller and Brian Leddy, 72, $706 each; 4. Wyatt Clark, 71, $282.
Steer wrestling: 1. Stockton Graves, 3.8 seconds, $1,130; 2. Shane Frey, 4.4, $847; 3. Kyle Irwin, 5.1, $565; 4. Jeff Miller, 5.3, $282.
Team roping: 1. Cale Markham/Tyler Worley, 4.9 seconds, $1,130; 2. Coleman Proctor/Billie Saebens, 5.7, $847; 3. Troy Boone/Dawson McMaster, 6.9, $565; 4. Zac Small/Nick Simmons, 7.0, $282.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Dalton Davis, 82 points on New Frontier Rodeo’s Satin Sheets, $1,130; 2. Ryan Bestol, 73; 3. (tie) Nick Shenold, Andrew Harris and Jesse James Kirby, 72, $282 each.
Tie-down roping: 1. Ryan Jarrett, 7.5 seconds, $1,130; 2. Cody Quaney, 8.6, $847; 3. Perry Dietz, 10.7, $565; 4. Luke Blanton, 11.0, $282.
Barrel racing: 1. Gretchen Benbenek, 16.00 seconds, $1,152; 2. Emily Miller, 16.17, $864; 3. Mary Burger, 16.21, $576; 4. Kyra Stierwalt, 16.22, $288.
Bull riding: 1. Sage Kimzey, 85 points on New Frontier Rodeo’s Night Rider, $1,130; 2. (tie) Sam Wyatt and Lane Wilhelm, 78, $706 each; 4. Chris McCombs, 77, $282.