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Rodeo

Frontier Days: Gillette's Welsh comes up short

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Frontier Days Rodeo

Gillette bull rider Bobby Welsh rides Centerfold on Sunday, July 28, 2013 at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo championships. (Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune)

CHEYENNE – At the age of 29, Gillette bull rider Bobby Welsh knows his limits.

Given the option of a re-ride Sunday after scoring just 77 points during the short go-round of Cheyenne Frontier Days, Welsh decided to keep his score.

“The arena was wet and as soon as your [bull] rope gets wet it doesn’t get real sticky,” Welsh said. “And that bull made me work my tail off. I was having a hard time catching my breath.

“[Taking a 77] was better than being tired with a slick rope and bucking off on the re-ride. I’m going to count my blessings and just go to the next rodeo.

“It was just so great to do well here. Wyoming is a great state and it doesn’t matter where you’re from, the whole state comes out and supports you.”

Even with the 77, Welsh’s lowest score of the week, he still finished second in the average with a three-ride total of 236 points.

Cody Whitney of Sayre, Okla., scored 89 on Frontier Rodeo Company’s Swamp Dog to win the go and take the average title with a 248. Whitney, who also won the title here last year, is the first back-to-back winner in bull riding since Tuff Hedeman did it in 1995-96.

While Welsh is still in search of his first Frontier Days buckle, the $8,926 he pocketed for the week will move him into the Top 20 in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world standings. And that puts Welsh in position to make another run at the Top 15 and the National Finals Rodeo.

“The NFR is the greatest rodeo in the world and I feel very fortunate and blessed to have been there seven times,” he said. “Every cowboy’s dream is to be a world champion. I may not go as hard as some of these guys go, but deep down in my childhood spirit I still want to be the world champion bull rider.”

Welsh wasn’t the only Wyoming cowboy to finish just short of a title Sunday.

Bareback bronc rider Ryan Gray, who was born in Laramie and grew up just minutes from Frontier Park, scored 91 points on Frontier Rodeo Company’s Full Baggage to take the lead in the average with a 256. But Taylor Price, the last man to ride, matched Gray’s 91 on Frontier Rodeo Company’s Show Stopper to finish with a 261.

“I literally jumped in the air when I found out I drew that horse,” Price said. “Everybody in the bullpen wanted him and everybody was mad at me when I

got him.”

It would have been hard to find anyone happier Sunday than saddle bronc rider Wade Sundell. One year after Sundell failed to mark his horse out after leading entering the final go, the Boxholm, Iowa, cowboy won the round with a 90 on Frontier Rodeo Company’s Maple Leaf and tied Chad Ferley for the average title.

“This is one of the greatest things ever to win here at the ‘Dad,’” Sundell said of the rodeo often referred to as the “Daddy of ‘Em All.” “I still watch “8 Seconds” all the time and to win a title here is unbelievable.”

In tie-down roping, Scott Kormos entered the final go eighth in the average. After his 12.4-second run, he watched as all seven ropers in front of him failed to better his three-run time of 39.5 seconds. Jesse Clark and Justin Maass, who were sitting second and first, respectively, both had no-times when their calf kicked free.

“I knew I had a pretty good run,” Kormos said. “But with all those guys ahead of me I figured I was going to finish fourth or fifth. It wasn’t until it got right down to the end that I thought, ‘Gosh dang! I might win this.”

Asked if he was going to make the championship buckle he won part of his everyday wardrobe, Kormos laughed.

“I’m just going to leave it on the mantel,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to get any dirt on it.”

Steer wrestler Matt Reeves got plenty dirty Sunday. But with an 8.2-second run to win the round and give him the average title, that was just fine with him. And the nearly $20,000 he won for the week will also change the way he approaches the rest of the year.

“I had been playing catch-up all year,” he said, “but now I can just go out and do my job. Now I can just rodeo.”

Also winning average titles Sunday were steer roper Trevor Brazile, team ropers Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill and barrel racer Christy Loflin.

Contact sports reporter Jack Nowlin at 307-266-0528 or jack.nowlin@trib.com. Follow him on Twitter @CASJackN

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