GUNNISON, Colo. – During Drake Amundson’s first trip to the Cattlemen’s Days PRCA Rodeo in 2022, things didn’t go very well.
His first horse didn’t want to play the game, so he got a re-ride; the second horse promptly bucked the young bareback rider off. During Friday’s second performance of Gunnison’s 123-year rodeo, Amundson matched moves with United Pro Rodeo’s Big Apple for 84.5 points to take the lead with one night remaining.
“I was a little hesitant about coming back, but it’s a cool rodeo,” said Amundson, 22, a recent University of Wyoming graduate from Wheatland, Wyoming. “I had to come back, and I have to keep shooting for that rifle they are giving away.”
The rifle is a unique trophy given to bareback riding champions each year. It’s an award that has been handed to some of the top cowboys to have ever competed in rodeo. No matter, Amundson plans to return to Gunnison for years to come.
“The atmosphere is great, and the crowd gets into it,” he said. “It’s a cool arena. The bucking horses are outstanding. You can’t ask for much more out of a rodeo.
“When you get on good bucking horses like that, you can have fun and show off a little bit. There’s nothing better than that.”
Amundson is fairly new to ProRodeo. He’s competing on his permit, which means he must prove himself on the sport’s highest level before he can begin his rookie campaign. He’ll do that next season, but he’d like to do some cool things before the regular campaign comes to a close Sept. 30 – he wants to qualify for the Mountain States Circuit Finals Rodeo and win that championship and he wants to advance to the permit finals, which takes place in December.
“The rush you get from bareback riding compares to nothing,” he said. “You can’t beat it. There’s no better feeling than tapping off on a good horse, getting off and hearing the crowd roar. There’s so many good guys going that it’s hard to say who I look up to. I just try to replicate what they do and form my own style from there.”
Injuries the last couple of years have hampered bull rider Dustin Boquet of Bourg, Louisiana. He missed the 2022 campaign and kicked off the 2023 season last October, but another injury sidelined him for two months earlier this year.
He’d love to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo for a fourth time, but he’s got some ground to make up. His time on the sidelines has put him way behind in the standings, and only the top 15 on the money list at the conclusion of the regular season will qualify for the NFR.
He rode Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Pain Killer for 86 points to move into second place. That should help him out as he works through the rigors of the rodeo trail.
“That bull wanted me down on his head, but we sat up and made a good bull ride,” Boquet said. “I’m feeling healthy, feeling sore. I’m a little sore after the Fourth (of July) run, but we’ve got a lot of rodeos left, so a little soreness ain’t going to stop us.”
Bareback riding: 1. Drake Amundson, 84.5 points on United Pro Rodeo’s Big Apple; 2. (tie) A.J. Ruth and Mark Kreder, 83; 4. Colton Clemens, 76; 5. Jake Kesl, 74; 6. Brazos Winters, 73.5; 7. Jarrod McKane, 73; 8. Tim Murphy, 71.
Steer wrestling: 1. Logan Lemmel, 3.5 secnds; 2. Cody Pratt, 4.1; 3. Ryley Gibb, 4.2; 4. Austin Eller, 4.3; 5. Jace Land, 4.7; 6. Jacob Wang, 5.2; 7. Brian Snell, 6.5; 8. Cody Mumma, 6.7.
Team roping: 1. Pedro Egurrola/J.C. Flake, 3.8 seconds; 2. Jay Tittel/T.J. Watts, 4.3; 3. (tie) Austin Crist/Jesse Jolly and Josh Siggins/Faron Candelaria, 4.4; 5. Kyon Kreutzer, 4.9; 6. Eric Martin/Ryon Tittel, 5.2; 7. (tie) Jade Schmidt/Conner Herren and Cam Jensen/Tanner Whetham, 5.6; 9. Tanner Bryson/Tye Reddell, 5.9; 10. Kory Bramwell/Seth Hall, 6.2.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Kody Rinehart, 84.5 points on Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Hammer Cocked; 2. (tie) Chris Williams and Parker Kempfer, 83.5; 4. (Itie) Trent Burd and Cable James Wareham, 81.5; 6. Ean Price, 81; 7. Danny Michael Cassidy, 80; 8. Carson Bingham, 79.5.
Tie-down roping: 1. Booker McCutchen, 8.5; 2. Zack Kirkpatrick 8.9; 3. Andrew Burks, 9.0; 4. Luke Meier, 9.6; 5. J.D. McCuistion, 10.1; 6. Colton Greene, 10.7.
Barrel racing: 1. Cindy Smith, 17.60 seconds; 2. Millie Marquart, 17.97; 3. Nicole Waggoner-Ludwick, 18.04; 4. Britta Strain, 18.05; 5. Jessi Fish, 18.06; 6. Jennifer Neudorf, 18.09.
Bull riding: 1. Roscoe Jarboe, 86.5 points on United Pro Rodeo’s Top Gun; 2. Dustin Boquet, 86; 3. (tie) Ernie Courson Jr. and Colt Rohrig, 80; no other qualified rides.