DUNCAN, Okla. – Less than two weeks remain in the 2015 Prairie Circuit rodeo season.
Crunch time has fallen for a number of the top contestants in the region if they want to qualify for the year-end championship, the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15-Saturday, Oct. 17, at the Stephens County Arena in Duncan.
Only the top 12 contestants in each event at the conclusion of the circuit season advance to the finale, so doing well in the few rodeos that remain is vital.
For instance, less than $1,000 separates the 10th-15th barrel racers in the standings. Two-time reigning champion Gretchen Benbenek of Aubrey, Texas, sits 10th with $4,112 in regional earnings, while three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Tana Poppino of Big Cabin, Okla., is 15th with $3,148. A top finish in any of the final rodeos could make all the difference in the world.
Kim Couch of Rattan, Okla., has $12,680 in earnings and leads the barrel racing standings by nearly $4,000 over the No. 2 cowgirl, Bailee Snow of Miami, Okla. Emily Miller of Weatherford, Okla., sits third, less than $500 behind Snow.
Reigning world champion bull rider Sage Kimzey of Strong City, Okla., has the largest lead in the circuit standings with $18,951, nearly $7,000 ahead of his traveling partner, Brennon Eldred of Sulphur, Okla. The race will be for that coveted 12th spot, where less than $500 separates cowboys in the 11th to 16th positions on the money list.
Steer wrestler Riley Duvall of Checotah, Okla., has closed the gap he has behind the leader, Stockton Graves, a five-time regional champ from Alva, Okla. Graves has pocketed more than $20,000 in the circuit this season and is more than $4,000 ahead of Duvall, who has a $6,000 lead over the No. 3 cowboy, Ryan Swayze of Freedom, Okla.
Caine Riddle of Vernon, Texas, is a four-time Prairie Circuit champion who has won the last three titles, but he has a little bit of work remaining if he wants to win his fifth. He has earned $8,398 this season and has reserved his spot in Duncan, but his lead is just $728 ahead of Blaine Kaufman of Pretty Prairie, Kan.
NFR team ropers Coleman Proctor of Pryor, Okla., and Jake Long of Coffeyville, Kan., lead their respective standings by about $2,000 each. Header Sac Small of Welch, Okla., and heeler Tyler Worley of Nowata, Okla., sit just behind Proctor and Long.
Steven Dent of Mullen, Neb., a seven-time NFR qualifier in bareback riding, leads the circuit’s saddle bronc riding standings with more than $13,000 in earnings. He owns a $4,000 lead over another NFR qualifier, Wade Sundell of Coleman, Okla. Dent is now focusing his time on bronc riding.
Tie-down roper Cody Quaney of Cheney, Kan., has pocketed more than $14,800 and holds about a $900 lead over nine-time circuit champ Jerome Schneeberger of Ponca City, Okla., who has made a solid late-season push to make a run at his 10th title.
The races are heating up, making Duncan an even bigger destination in October.