Circuit champs ready for big week

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DUNCAN, Okla. – Next week’s run of rodeos is a vital time in the schedule of the Prairie Circuit’s top players.

ProRodeo cowboys and cowgirls call it the “Kansas Run,” because of the weeklong series of events that take place primarily in the Sunflower State. It’s a great opportunity for the sport’s stars to earn big paydays while competing at events that are within close proximity to one another. That includes those battling for the regional honors.

Billie Saebens
Billie Saebens

The “Kansas Run” is a vital cog for those hoping to qualify for 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.

The biggest event in the region is Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, which is part of the Wrangler Million Dollar Tour and offers the largest purse among all events in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. Also in Kansas are events in Hill City, Phillipsburg and Abilene, and a couple of other communities that border the Prairie Circuit also count their events toward the standings.

Gretchen Benbenek
Gretchen Benbenek

How important is the run that concludes the first weekend in August? Each of the nine year-end champions utilized those earnings to claim their crowns last season, with heeler Billie Saebens and barrel racer Gretchen Benbenek pulling in the largest sums. Saebens, who competed with header Adam Rose last season, won the title in Sidney, Iowa, and finished third in the three-run average in Dodge City. He pocketed $6,575.

Benbenek cashed checks at four stops; she finished fourth in Dodge City and placed in Abilene, Phillipsburg and Sidney to add $6,000. It helped to propel the Montana-born cowgirl to her second straight regional crown.

Steer wrestler Stockton Graves won Hill City and earned nearly $1,000, while bareback rider Caine Riddle shared the victory in Phillipsburg and placed in Abilene and Sidney to collect $2,784. Header Andrew Ward, roping with his brother, Reagan, finished fourth in Phillipsburg, earning $2,108, while tie-down roper Jerome Schneeberger earned $2,176 in Hill City and Abilene.

Wade Sundell
Wade Sundell

Chet Herren took advantage of the only event of the week that held steer roping in Dodge City, placing in the second round to add a little more than $1,000, while bull rider Bart Miller won the first round and finished second in the average inside Roundup Arena to pocket $4,591.

Saddle bronc rider Wade Sundell posted the highest marked ride of the 2014 season with a 92 during the championship round in Dodge City to win the two-ride average championship; he also added money in Phillipsburg to deposit $4,600.

The week is filled with promise and opportunity, and last year’s winners need to capitalize again if they hope to return to the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo and have a chance to defend their titles.

It should be worth it for fans, too.


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