BY BRETT HOFFMAN
Some smaller rodeo committees see opportunity.
They calculate that their rodeo is within less than a day's driving distance of a larger one. They draw high-profile competitors by scheduling their show on the same weekend.
During the past weekend, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's marquee rodeo was the Dodge City Round Up in Kansas, which offered competitors $291,961.
But on those days they were not scheduled to ride in Dodge City, many competitors headed to Abilene, Kan., to vie for a share of a $76,681 purse at the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo. And there was eight-time world all-around champion Trevor Brazile of Decatur who also traveled to Philipsburg, Kan., and took $1,763 from the rodeo's $96,885 purse.
Five-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Bradley Harter of Weatherford has effectively worked multiple rodeos over the past two weekends. Last weekend, he earned $2,117 after tying for first (85 points) in the final round and finishing fourth overall in the saddle bronc riding race at Dodge City. He also pocketed $1,683 after winning the Abilene saddle bronc title.
On the weekend of July 29-31, Harter finished second at the 115th Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming ($7,744) and also came in No. 2 at the traditional rodeo in Deadwood, S.D. ($2,725). The Deadwood show is another example of a smaller rodeo that piggybacks on a larger one, a scheduling situation that's been in place for years.
After all that, Harter was ranked third in the PRCA's world saddle bronc riding standings with $71,415, which should be more than enough to qualify for the Dec. 1-10 National Finals in Las Vegas.
On the bubble
The Dodge City Rodeo was a boon for a North Texas bareback rider who is fighting to qualify for the 2011 National Finals. In order to make the cut, a cowboy must be ranked within the top 15 in a single event when the regular season concludes in late September.
Matt Bright of Azle, who is on pace to qualify for his second NFR, showed up at Dodge City ranked 15th in the PRCA bareback riding title race. But after finishing second and earning $5,165, he was ranked 13th in the world standings released Monday with $46,728.
Brazilian Valdiron de Oliveira, who lives near Decatur, won last weekend's Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough Series tour stop in Billings, Mont., and earned $41,920. He clinched the title after turning in a final-round score of 89.5 aboard Jeffrey Scott's Titanium Tough (Jeff Robinson Bucking Bulls).
Silvano Alves, the PBR's 2010 Rookie of the Year, finished the weekend tour stop in second place, but held onto his world title race lead. In the world standings, Alves is No. 1 with 9,091.75 points, 200 ahead of No. 2 De Oliveira who has 8,891.75. This weekend, the tour stops in Tulsa.
Up and comer
Matt Birdwell, who is from the East Texas town of Bronson near Jasper, won the senior open division title at the Cinch World Bull Riding Finals last weekend in Abilene. The championships featured 197 contestants ages 19 and under.