ESTES PARK, Colo. – Sometimes momentum swings in the right direction, and that’s the case for bareback rider Joel Schlegel.
He is having the best season of his career with more than $20,400 in earnings; more than half that came last week when he won the championship in Cody, Wyo., and pocketed $10,500 in the process. On Thursday night, Schlegel matched moves with Cervi Rodeo’s Little Bo Beep for 83.5 points to take the lead in the 90th edition of Rooftop Rodeo.
“My confidence is pretty sky high,” said Schlegel of Burns, Colo., a three-plus hour drive through the mountain range southwest of Estes Park. “Showing up today and knowing the horse I had, there’s little to no doubt you’d be excited. I’m riding better than I ever have.”
It showed on the gray horse. Now the Colorado cowboy hopes his score holds out through the remaining four performances.
“We came here last year, and it worked out and won the rodeo,” he said. “It’s cool to come back and say you won it again if you have the opportunity. There are still guys that have good horses and guys that ride great (and they could) just as easy bump me down.
“It’s exciting to do good at a good rodeo right in our circuit.”
Rooftop Rodeo has been recognized as one of the best in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, with only 20 events out of more than 600 that receive nominations annually for Rodeo of the Year. Over the last two decades, Estes Park’s rodeo has been in a regular fixture in that field.
Part of that has to do with an crowd that fills the grandstands every night, considering the rodeo part of their Estes Park summertime experience.
“A lot of people that are here are interested to come (and) have the experience, the show, get involved,” Schlegel said. “It’s good to have a bunch of people cheering you on. If you wave at the crowd, everybody cheers and hollers at you. It’s awesome.”
It’s that kind of experience that pushes him to return to Estes Park every July. Now that he sits 27th in the world standings, he hopes the roller-coaster ride that is ProRodeo will stay on the downhill cycle for a bit longer. Finishing the regular season among the top 15 in the world standings would earn him his first qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, which takes place in December in Las Vegas.
“The ball’s been in my favor this year, and I’d like to keep the momentum going,” he said. “Everybody wants to go ride in Vegas.”
Estes Park, Colo.
July 6-11, 2016
Leaders through second performance
Bareback riding: 1. Joel Schlegel, 83.5 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Little Bo Beep; 2. Blaine Kauffman, 82; 3. Kody Lamb, 80; 4. (tie) Caleb Bennett, Orin Larsen and Tim O’Connell, 79 each; 7. (tie) Tyler Waltz and Tanner Phipps, 78 each.
Steer wrestling: 1. K.C. Jones, 4.4 seconds; 2. Cody Cabral, 4.6; 3. Ross Mosher, 5.4; 4. Rowdy Parrot, 5.6; 5. Mike McGinn, 5.9; 6. Mike Garcia, 6.0; 7. Tristan Martin, 6.2; 8. Ty Lang, 7.2.
Team roping: 1. Clay Smith/Paul Eaves, 4.8 seconds; 2. J.D. Yates/Trey Yates, 5.4; 3. Monty Wood/Brandon Gonzales, 5.8; no other qualified times.
Saddle bronc riding 1. CoBurn Bradshaw, 82 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Exploding Springs; 2. Jesse Bail, 81; 3. Landon Mecham, 80; 4. Rusty Wright, 79; 5. (tie) Jake Watson, Taos Muncy and Andy Clarys, 75; 8. Wyatt Casper, 74.
Tie-down roping: 1. Rhen Richard, 9.0 seconds; 2. Marshall Leonard, 9.1; 3. Braxton Laughlin, 9.6; 4. Travis Lewis, 9.8; 5. Justin Brinkerhoff, 10.5; 6. Chad Finley, 10.6; 7. Cody Collins, 11.8; 8. Paul Carmen, 16.2.
Barrel racing: 1. Jenna Waggoner, 18.07 seconds; 2. Cayla Melby, 18.16; 3. C.J. Vondette, 18.28; 4. Kari Hasler, 18.45; 5. Lesley Chester, 18.56; 6. Kasey Hall, 18.68; 7. Nicole Waggoner, 18.78; 8. Heidi Tillard, 18.94; 9. Pollie Madden, 19.26; 10. Lake Mehalic, 20.52.
Bull riding: 1. Derek Kolbaba, 79 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Wolf Greeley Hat Works; no other qualified rides.