GUNNISON, Colo. – It’s been several years, but Roper Kiesner has been to Cattlemen’s Days before.
As a teenager, he and his brother, Rider, were part of a specialty act that performed in Gunnison. Trick roping, trick riding, whip tricks were all part of the Kiesner family’s show, and the young boys were a big hit for rodeo fans.
On Friday night during the second performance of this year’s Cattlemen’s Days PRCA Rodeo, Roper Kiesner returned to Fred Field Western Center for the first time since … as a saddle bronc rider. He proved his talent in that aspect of the sport, riding Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Justin’s Sock Dancer for 86 points to take the lead.
“She’s dang sure a bucker,” he said of the horse that has bucked several times at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the sport’s grand championship that takes place each December in Las Vegas. “She’s super strong, and I felt bucked off every jump. I was happy to be there at the end of 8 seconds.
“Taking the lead at any rodeo is awesome, and 86 makes it even better. This is my highest marked ride ever.”
He has fond memories of Gunnison from his time working several years ago, and now he has something to recall as he travels the rodeo trail making a living on the backs of bucking beasts.
“I remember this rodeo being awesome,” said Kiesner, 23 of Ripley, Okla. “I really liked this rodeo, being up here fishing and stuff, and the crowd was always great. This is my first time as a saddle bronc riding, and I’m really liking it again.
“It would be cool to win a Gunnison buckle after performing at it and riding at it.”
Header Ty Blasingame understands what it means to do well at Cattlemen’s Days. The Ramah, Colo., cowboy has found success several times over his career.
“When I made the finals (in 2010), it turned around here,” he said after posting a rodeo-best 5.3-second run Friday with his heeling partner, Tanner Luttrell. “The committee is awesome. They keep making it better and better; that’s hard to find a committee that is interested in making their rodeo better.”
He and Luttrell will have to wait until Saturday’s final performance to see if their score will hold out for the top spot.
“It was a good run, and we had a good steer,” Blasingame said. “My partner did a good job heeling him, but he’s been heeling awesome. He hasn’t hardly missed all summer long.”
It all helps build the confidence in a team, and that’s how they find success. After all, Gunnison has been the turning point for Blasingame before.
Bareback riding leaders: 1. Kash Wilson, 86 points on Three Hills Rodeo’s Big Show; 2. Rio Lee, 80.5; 3. Tanner Phipps, 78.5; 4. Evan Miller, 78; 5. Mike Fred, 76.5; 6. (tie) Jared Keylon and Zach Hibler, 74; 8. (tie) Brian Brown and Tate Schwagler, 71.
Steer wrestling: 1. (tie) Jarret New and Tom Lewis, 4.2 seconds; 3. John Franzen, 4.3; 4. Marcus Theriot, 4.6; 5. Tristan Martin, 4.7; 6. Cody Pratt, 4.9.
Team roping: 1. Ty Blasingame/Tanner Luttrell, 5.1 seconds; 2. Cody Snow/Wesley Thorp, 5.5; 3. Cole Wheeler/Coy Brittian, 5.8; 4. (tie) Tyler Schnaufer/Trevor Schnaufer and Nick Pullara/Shawn Darnall, 5.9; 6. Corey Whinnery/Jesse Jolly, 6.8; 7. Bubba Buckaloo/Trey Yates, 10.0; 8. Shay Carroll/Nano Garza, 10.4.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Roper Kiesner, 86 points on Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Justin’s Sock Dancer; 2. Charlie Kogaines, 82.5; 23. Nat Stratton, 81.5; 4. Shade Etbauer, 79.5; 5. Alex Wright, 79; 6. (tie) Brody Cress, Brady Nicholes and Doug Aldridge, 78.
Tie-down roping: 1. Seth Cooke, 8.9 seconds; 2. Tim Pharr, 9.2; 3. (tie) Stuart Hoar, Ty Baker and Ike Fontenot, 9.6; 6. Joe Colletti, 10.7; 7. Wyatt Imus, 14.4; 8. Tyler Prcin, 20.2.
Barrel racing: 1. (tie) Nicole Waggoner and Ari-Anna Flynn, 17.64 seconds; 3. Tammy Fischer, 17.73; 4. Chris Gibson, 17.88; 5. Dani Durham, 17.94; 6. Kelley Schnaufer, 17.90; 7. Katelyn Scott, 18.07; 8. Joy McDaniel, 18.15; 9. Ivy Conrado, 18.18; 10. (tie) Melanie Roman and Heather Ratterree, 18.29.
Bull riding: 1. Cole Melancon, on Smith, Harper & Morgan’s Bad Black, and Nate Perry, on United Rodeo’s Sports Page, 82 points; no other qualified rides.