Professional rodeo is a tough way to make a living. In addition to the physical pounding and the weekly uncertainty of earning a paycheck, rodeo athletes face long months of hauling horse trailers across the countryside in search of their next victory.
So as the 101st Snake River Stampede hits the Ford Idaho Center, Idaho cowboys and cowgirls are eager to put on a show for the home crowd — and enjoy a short break from the rigors of life on the road. Ten Idahoans competed during Tuesday’s opening round, and the rest of the week is sure to feature plenty of hometown heroes on horseback.
“It’s awesome doing an Idaho rodeo — I should have done this a long time ago,” said steer wrestler Stetson Jorgensen, a Blackfoot native. “It’s just a great atmosphere. You see a lot of people you know, and everyone is cheering you on and wishing you the best.”
Jorgensen was previously based out of Wyoming. He moved back to the Gem State this year, but spent two months on the Texas rodeo circuit and three weeks competing in California, with a short break between to help out on his family’s farm.
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Tuesday was Jorgensen’s first time competing professionally on home soil. He took advantage, wrestling his steer in 4.4 seconds to give himself a shot at Saturday’s final round.
Fellow Blackfoot cowboy Coltin Hill wrestled his steer in 4.6 seconds Tuesday, while Malad native and Snake River Stampede veteran Olin Hannum turned in the best time of the night with a 4.0.
Some local ladies got in on the action during the barrel racing competition, where the first three riders were Idaho cowgirls. Kristy Yerrington of Carey posted the second-fastest run of the night at 16.15 seconds, while Kimberly Sanford of Iona was third-fastest at 16.54. Caldwell cowgirl Jennifer Kalafatic had a fast run going, but a fallen barrel cost her a shot at the finals.
As usual, the bull riding competition received the biggest cheers of the night. All but two riders were thrown before the 8-second mark, but one of the survivors was Riker Carter of Stone, a small town near the Idaho-Utah state line.
Carter rode a bull named Redneck to 81 points, giving him a shot to return Saturday for what would be his third Snake River Stampede final appearance.
“I don’t get to compete at many Idaho rodeos, so when I get the home state advantage, I love it,” Carter said. “It definitely pumps you up and gets you going.”
Carter’s rodeo season has taken him all over the country, from Mississippi, Georgia and Florida to Minnesota, Wisconsin and Arizona. But this week, he’s relishing the comforts of home.
“This is my favorite week of the year,” Carter said. “We come up here, then we head to Ogden and Spanish Fork, so I get to go home every night and spend time with my family.”
Tuesday’s saddle bronc riding competition featured plenty of thrills and spills, with five riders scoring 80 points or better.
When the dust settled, Texas cowboy Cody Anthony stood atop the standings with an 84.5-point ride aboard Instant Noodle. He edged saddle bronc star Cody DeMoss, who scored 83.5 points aboard Queenie. Both riders are a good bet for Saturday’s championship round, when the week’s top-12 finishers in each event will compete for their share of a Snake River Stampede-record $444,006 purse.
SNAKE RIVER STAMPEDE
At Ford Idaho Center, Nampa
Bareback Bronc Riding — Jessy Davis 84.5, Delvecchio Kaye 79, Blake Smith 78.5, Joel Schlegel 77.5, Chase Erickson 75, Casey Colletti 73.5, Jerad Schlegel 71, Mason Clements 69, Jordan Pelton 65, Troy Vaira No Score.
Steer Wrestling — Olin Hannum 4.0, Ethen Thouvenell 4.3, Stetson Jorgensen 4.4, Colton Hill 4.6, Shayde Tree Etherton 6.1, Heath Thomas 6.8, Baxtor Roche No Time, Jarret New No Time, Shawn Downing No Time, Jake Fulton No Time.
Team Roping — Aaron Tsinigine & Travis Graves 4.2, Lane Karney & Jordan Ketscher 4.6, Lane Ivy & B.J. Dugger 4.8, Caleb Mitchell & Matt Kasner 5.5, Rhett Anderson & Jade Anderson 10.2, Jake Cooper & Tyler McKnight 10.5, Kaleb Diggers & Junior Nogueira No Time, Clay Smith & Paul Evans No Time, Marcos Paul Theriot & Lane Mitchell No Time, Jade Stoddard & Ryon Tittel No Time.
Saddle Bronc Riding — Cody Anthony 84.5, Cody DeMoss 83.5, Tyrell J. Smith 83, Zeke Thurston 81, Taos Muncy 80.5, Dustin Flundra 79, Jake Watson 78.5, Chase Brooks 77.5, Kobyn Williams 73.5, Travis Nelson 73, Dalton Rixen 65, Samuel Kelts No Score, Colton Miller No Score, Nick Laduke No Score, Jesse James Kirby No Score.
Tie Down Roping — Ryan Jarrett 7.2, Riley Pruitt 7.8, Hunter Herrin 8.0, D.J. Smith 8.6, Cody Collins 8.8, Cy Eames 9.7, Marshall Leonard 10.6, Adam Gray 11.5, Braxton Laughlin 13.6, Blane Cox No Time.
Barrel Racing — Kathy Grimes 16.06, Kristy Yerrington 16.15, Kimberly Sanford 16.54, Lori Todd 16.63, Jenna Smeenk 16.90, Kimmie Wall 20.78, Jennifer Kalafatic 21.71, Tiffani Lowe No Time.
Bull Riding — Joe Frost 81.5, Riker Carter 81, Markus Mariluch No Score, Scott Carlson No Score, Josh Frost No Score, Johnny Loverin Owens No Score, Steve L. Carter No Score, Lonnie West No Score, Jeff Bertus No Score, Bart Miller No Score, Diego Benedetti No Score, Scottie Knapp No Score, Todd Chotowetz No Score, Edgar Durazo No Score, Wyatt Gregg No Score, Dustin Muncy No Score.