CHEYENNE — Brady Garten grew up watching his father compete at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo.
"You rope back here behind the stands and you mimic all the runs and what one day you hope you could accomplish here," he said. "It’s always special to come to Cheyenne."
Sunday was extra special for the Oklahoma steer roper. Garten won the rodeo, while his father, Shorty Garten, took third.
"Especially to finish first and third here, that will always be a memory that we won’t forget," Brady Garten said.
Garten and his father have shared the same horse since 2014. His father was in first place, with an aggregate time of 57.8 seconds, when they traded reins Sunday. The younger Garten posted a time of 17.1 to top the leaderboard with an aggregate time of 51.6 seconds. Bryce Davis of Ovalo, Texas, then finished with a time of 52.8 to take second.
The second year the Gartens shared their horse, they devised a system to share the winnings.
"If I won something and he didn’t, then I’d cover his fees, or if he won something and I didn’t he’d cover mine," said Garten, of Chelsea, Oklahoma. "The next year, it way worked out in my favor, because he won way more than I did the next year."
They had no trouble covering their fees in Cheyenne.
Kollin VonAhn had won in team roping at Frontier Days before, back in 2015 with Luke Brown. Sunday, he won it again — this time with three other competitors joining him on the stand.
VonAhn (Blanchard, Oklahoma) and Brandon Webb (Carrizo Springs, Texas), who have been roping together for about half a year, tied with Erich Rogers (Round Rock, Arizona) and Cory Petska (Marana, Arizona) to win the event with aggregates of 28.4 seconds.
"It’s pretty unique, and it’s pretty amazing to win an event with another team," Rogers said. "So it’s awesome."
Said VonAhn: "I mean, the thing is, I think out here everybody respects each other. Everybody ropes great, and when you get to split it with somebody, shoot, you’ve got twice as much excitement going on."
VonAhn did not compete at Frontier Days last year, so he's won in his past two trips.
"Cheyenne’s been good to me," he said. "... I was telling (Webb), you can rodeo your whole career and not ever win this rodeo. This isn’t an easy rodeo to win, and I don’t take it lightly."
Now there's just the question of which pair leaves Cheyenne with the saddles.
"We’ll do a leg wrestle here in a little bit," Rogers joked.
Lane Livingston had never competed at Frontier Days before this summer. Sunday's tie-down roping finals came down to the rookie and a 23-time world champion.
Livingston (Seymour, Texas) led the pack with an aggregate time of 38.0 seconds after recording a score of 14.3 in the final go-round. The only competitor left to rope was the renowned Trevor Brazile. Brazile needed to be just over a second faster than he was to top Livingston, and the rookie earned the win.
"Trevor is an all-around great champion, great guy, and ... it’s neat for me to get to rope against somebody like that that’s your hero," Livingston said. "And if he had won it, I’d have been just as happy. Well-deserved, but it’s adrenaline for sure, because you’re up against the best in the world."
For a week, at least, Livingston was the best.
"This is a rodeo that I look up to, dreamed of winning," he said. "And it’s like a dream come true for sure. ... Me being a rookie coming here, it’s kind of one of those deals you want to get your feet wet and better yourself. But how do you top this? I know you can, but this is an awesome experience to come here (and win) the first time."
Rainy conditions at Sunday's performance had Stevi Hillman worried. The Weatherford, Texas, barrel racer was preparing to ride on 5-year-old Sharpie, a horse that had never competed in mud before.
"I just had to help him a little more than normal," Hillman said. "It wasn’t dangerous. It was just a little wet and slick, so it was actually kind of fun."
Hillman, who reached the finals last year, finished her race in 17.33 seconds Sunday, giving her an aggregate time of 52.44.
"I mean there’s a lot going on here at Cheyenne, which is awesome, but for a 5-year-old, it’s a little scary," she said. "So I just have to make sure he stays confident. He’s just a phenomenal horse. I’m so blessed to have him."
Baylor Roche had the lead going into the finals in steer wrestling, and he didn't waste it. The Tremonton, Utah, competitor finished with a time of 10.4 seconds in the short go-round, finishing with an aggregate of 26.1 seconds to win the event.
"You can't really back off here," he said. "So much can go wrong so fast. So I had a game plan before coming into the short round, and coming into that last time I stuck with my plan. I'm glad it worked out."