CLAREMORE, Okla. – Louie Brunson has been ever so close to qualifying for ProRodeo’s grand finale, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
If he keeps riding like he did Friday night at the Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo, he might make it there yet. Brunson matched moves with Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Django for 85 points to take the early lead in saddle bronc riding.
“That’s a nice little horse that’s good to get on,” said Brunson, 32, of New Underwood, S.D. “This dang sure helps my confidence. He kind of pumped his head a little bit, which made it tough to work my rein, but the hard part was to not have too much fun. He was so nice, I just didn’t want to fall off him.”
While the smile was wide, the spur stroke was solid. In rodeo’s classic event, cowboys must spur the horse from the animal’s neck to the back of the cantle on the saddle. When done in perfect rhythm with the bronc’s bucking motion, scores get high. That’s exactly what happened for Brunson.
“I’ve been staying pretty close to home,” he said. “When I’ve gone, it’s been good, but this dang sure is a good start to my summer.”
Now he’ll have to hold out through the final two performances to see if his score holds up to claim the Claremore title. For now, though, he holds a 6.5-point lead over the No. 2 man, Bradley Harter of Loranger, La. Is this his time to make a big move to finally make it to Las Vegas in December?
“We’ll see how things go in June,” Brunson said. “If things keep going good, I’ll stay out on the road and see what happens.
“I’d like to make the finals. That’s a huge goal, but taking care of my family comes first.”
With priorities like that, Brunson is already winning.
Will Rogers Stampede
Leaders through first performance
Bareback riding:1. Lane McGehee, 81 points on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Sundowner; Colton Delgado, 67; no other qualified rides.
Steer wrestling: 1. Shane Frey, 3.7 seconds; 2. (tie) Jason Tapley and Blake Mindemann, 4.4; 4. Jule Hazen, 4.5; 5. John Kloekler, 4.7; 6. Hunter Washburn, 4.8; 7. (tie) Cody Doesher, Tristan Martin and Eric Manos, 4.9.
Tie-down roping: 1. Trent Creager, 8.4 seconds; 2. Riley Pruitt, 8.7; 3. Shane Hanchey, 9.1; 4. (tie) Cole Bailey and Tyler Milligan, 9.4; 6. Cody Quaney, 9.6; 7. Scot Meeks, 9.7; 8. Layton Little, 10.0.
Saddle bronc riding 1. Louie Brunson, 85 points on Pete Carr ProRodeo’s Django ; 2. Bradley Harter, 78.5; 3. Jake Finley, 76; 4. Jacob Lewis, 73; 5. Mason Laviolette, 66; 6. Joey Sonnier, 65.
Team roping: 1. Cory Kidd V/Caleb Anderson, 5.7 seconds; 2. Quentin Sawyer/Jordan Reynolds, 6.0; 3. Brenten Hall, 6.1; 4. Jesse Stipes/Jake Smith, 6.2; 5. Andrew Ward/Reagan Ward, 6.4; 6. (tie) Dilan Rucker/Whitney DeSalvo and Adam Wallace/Tyler Young, 6.6; 8. Blake Deckard/Cody Heflin, 6.8.
Barrel racing: 1. Jody McKay, 17.20 seconds; 2. Stevi Hillman, 17.25; 3. Tiany Schuster, 17.27; 4. Kylie Weast, 17.28; 5. Cheyenne Kelly, 17.33; 6. Ali Armstrong, 17.38; 7. Sandy McElreath, 17.50; 8. Sabra O’Quinn, 17.54; 8. Kynder Starr, 17.58; 10. Savannah Pearson, 17.60.
Bull riding: 1. (tie) Boudreaux Campbelll, on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Kracker Jack, and Kole Bowman, on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Tequila Worm, 86 points; 3. Sage Kimzey, 75; no other qualified rides.