DUNCAN, Okla. – Shane Frey knew he had some work to do when he qualified for the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo.
Sitting second in the steer wrestling Prairie Circuit standings, Frey needed to make up an $1,810 deficit to leader J.D. Struxness of Appleton, Minn. He made a significant move Thursday during the first go-round at the Stephens County Arena. He posted a 4.1-second run to share the round victory with Jule Hazen of Ashland, Kan.; each cowboy earned $1,560.
“It was definitely a great way to start the week,” said Frey, a two-time circuit finals qualifier from Duncan who is just $250 behind Struxness.
Struxness was unable to record a time when his steer ducked and veered away from him, so he no longer holds much of a chance to cash in on the weekend bonus that pays the top four spots in the three-run aggregate. That puts Frey in the driver’s seat for the year-end championship.
“We have a lot of rodeo left, so we can’t worry about that right now,” he said. “I just have to stay sharp and keep making good runs.
“The only other time I’ve qualified here was in 2014, and I placed in the first round. I came back winning the average after the second round and missed my third steer. Hopefully I can get a little bit of redemption this year.”
There are great incentives to do well in Duncan this week. Not only is the year-end title on the line, but the average also pays dividend for having the best three-round cumulative times and scores. In fact, the average and year-end champions at the conclusion of this weekend will qualify for the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for next spring in Kissimmee, Fla.
And for the first time since the circuit system was developed four decades ago, money earned at all circuit finals will count toward the next year’s world standings. That provides even more push for contestants to do well. That means money earned this weekend and in Florida will go a long ways to helping cowboys and cowgirls qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
“With Kissimmee counting for the NFR, there’s a lot of money down to be won down there,” Frey said. “Hopefully I can have some luck here and get qualified there and win a chunk of change. That’s the goal for sure, then get ready to go to the NFR in 2017.”
The NFR is the premier championship in ProRodeo, and only the top 15 in the world standings in each event advance to Las Vegas. That’s where world champions are crowned each December, and it’s understandable why Frey wants to be there. It also offers the biggest pay in the game over 10 days. His father, Shawn, qualified for the NFR in bareback riding.
But there’s always something about competing in his hometown, and he gets to do that this week while battling for championships.
“It’s always great to come home and compete in front of people I know and let people see what I’ve been working for,” he said.
It might be everything he needs.
Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo
Bareback riding: 1. Wesley Cole, 80 points on Silver Creek Rodeo’s Got a Dollar, $1,783; 2. Justin Pollmiller, 79.5, $1,337; 3. Frank Morton, 78.5, $892; 4. Caine Riddle, 74, $446.
Steer wrestling: 1. (tie) Shane Frey and Jule Hazen, 4.1 seconds, $1,560 each; 3. Riley Duvall, $892; 4. (tie) Jake Johnson and Jerek VanPatten, 5.2, $223 each.
Team roping: 1. Andrew Ward/Reagan Ward, 4.4 seconds, $1,783; 2. Brett Christensen/Dawson McMaster, 5.0, $1,337; 3. Cale Markham/Nick Simmons, 5.3, $892; 4. Coleman Proctor/Billie Jack Saebens, 5.5, $446.
Saddle bronc riding: Results pending until event can be completed, which will take place before the second round Saturday.
Tie-down roping: 1. Bryson Sechrist, 7.7 seconds, $1,783; 2. Tyler Milligan, 7.9, $1,337; 3. Cody Quaney, 8.2, $892; 4. Ryan Jarrett, 8.6, $446.
Barrel racing: 1. Kyra Stierwalt, 15.97 seconds, $1,783; 2. Emily Miller, 15.99, $1,337; 3. Sherrylynn Johynson, 16.11, $892; 4. Tracy Nowlin, 16.19, $446.
Bull riding: 1. Guthrie Murray, 86 points on Rafter H Rodeo’s News Flash, $2,452; 2. Colten Jesse, 85, $2,006; no other qualified rides.