June 1, 2019
Fort Pierre, South Dakota
Because of his success in riding broncs and becoming the Champion of Saddle Bronc Riding five times (1951-1954 & 1959), the All-Around Champion twice (1951 and 1955) and the Bareback Riding Champion in 1951, the town of Fort Pierre, South Dakota, has honored their rodeo ‘son’ by building a first-rate museum there and holding the Casey Tibbs Match of Champions yearly.
My good friend, of many years, Dr. Charles “Bud” Townsend, phoned me and asked me to drive him from Canyon, Texas, his home town, to Fort Pierre, South Dakot, a for the June 1st Matched Bucking. It only took long enough for the words to leave my throat to accept the offer. Bud had offered to sponsor and give the bronze ‘Tornado’ to the winner. Bud will be 90 years old in November, and he wanted to personally present the trophy to the winner.
We left Canyon, Texas, on May 30th and headed north. As we drove to South Dakota, traveling through the sandhills of Nebraska, we were in awe of the beautiful countryside Mother Nature had created. The rolling hills were high with grass and as green as an emerald! The spring, this year, had been good to this part of the country, and it only got more beautiful as we neared Fort Pierre.
We spent two days getting to know the towns, Fort Pierre and Pierre, divided by the Missouri River, and the people who live there. What wonderful people we met. We spent hours at the Casey Tibbs Museum looking at the displays and reading the history of rodeos held in the state, and those cowboys and cowgirls from South Dakota, who had contributed so much to the sport of rodeo and had brought home Championship after Championship, especially in saddle bronc riding.
The Casey Tibbs Extreme Bronc Match – 2019 was held at the Casey Tibbs Arena in Fort Pierre on Saturday night. A steak dinner kicked off the festivities. Since I had been there six years earlier I was aware the dinner was served with plastic silverware. Try cutting a thick steak with a plastic knife!?! We had borrowed silverware from our hotel, and were darn glad we had, as we looked around the tables and saw so many men sharing their pocket knives with others at their tables. Jim Korkow offered his knife to Glee Nett from Cheyenne, and commented he didn’t think he’d used it since he cut the head off a rattlesnake. Glee, a ranch girl, didn’t flinch and chuckled as she cut her steak.
Glee heads up the Children’s Western Wishes Program who had two youths whom they were honoring at the event. The premise of the program is to bring those they honor, children with needs and who live in the vicinity, to enjoy a rodeo experience and give them gifts provided by sponsors.
Between the sections of the Matched Bucking were Mini Bronc Riders on small horses. Ryggan Labley, age 7, of Burke, South Dakota, bucked off his wild Shetland as it raced across the arena toward the grandstand, but it didn’t phase him when he bucked off. He got up, dusted himself off, grabbed his cowboy hat, and headed back to the chutes, smiling from ear to ear. The winner was Taos Weborg, age 11, from St. Charles, SD with a score of 58. Others in the event were: Tyson Hill, of White River, SD, age 13; Talon Ping, of Highmore, SD, age 11; Tyler Tvedt, of Estelline, SD, age 12; and Lucas Arcoren, of Blunt, SD, age 12. Our bronc riders of tomorrow!
The bucking stock was provided by Sutton Rodeo, Burch Rodeo, Three Hills Rodeo and Korkow Rodeo. It couldn’t have been any better. All four rodeo companies brought their best broncs to this event and as a spectator I heard many comments that they had never seen better bucking.
The contestants were thirty of the top riders from professional rodeo. Judges scored the riders from 68 to 83 in the first section. Only six buck-offs, and only four flags were thrown on the ground (infraction of some sort that disqualified the rider – usually not marking the bronc out of the chute). The contestants were: Lane Schuelke of Newell, SD; Jade Blackwell of Rapid City, SD; Kash Deal of Dupree, SD; Taygen Schuelke of Newell, SD; Tegan Smith of Winerset, Iowa; Shorty Garrett of Eagle Butte, SD; Stetson Wright of Milford, UT; Jace Blackwell of Hermosa, SD; Kaden Deal of Eagle Butte, SD; Chase Brooks, of Deer Lodge, MT; Wyatt Casper of Pampa, TX; Cole Pateneaude of Eagle Butte, SD; J. J. Elshere of Hereford, SD; Tim Ditrich of Shingle Springs, CA; Jacob Lewis of Stephenville, TX; Josh Davison of Miles City, MT; Ty Manke of Rapid City, SD; Brady Hill of Onida, SD; Spencer Wright of Milford UT; Jeremy Meeks of Scenic, SD; Louie Brunson of New Underwood, SD; Lefty Holman of Visalia CA; Jacobs Crawley of Boerne, TX; Bradley Harter of Loranger, LA; Jesse Kruse of Great Falls, MT; Taos Muncy or Corona, NM; Wade Sundell of Boxholm, IA; Jesse Wilson of Martin, SD; and Ryder Wright of Milford, UT.
The riders who went on to the Short Go were: Lefty Holman and Chase Brooks with scores of 83, (Lefty’s score of 83 was on a re-ride). Next was J.J. Elshere with an 82.5 score, Stetson Wright, Wade Sundell and Ryder Wright had scores of 82, and Spencer Wright and Tegan Smith both got an 81 score. Only two points difference between the top eight. The competition was fierce.
The results of the Short Go and the top 8 were: Ryder Wright got a 64 score, which gave him a re-ride on a Three Hills bronc named Mona Lisa, and he did not mark her out. Tegan Smith of Somerset, Iowa, bucked off Prom Nite a Sutton Rodeo bronc; Chase Brooks of Deer Lodge, Montana bucked off Lunatic from Hell by Burch Rodeo. J. J. Elshere of Hereford, South Dakota got an 82 on Korkow’s Bad Onion. Stetson Wright got an 83 score on Meat Cracker of Korkow Rodeo. Spencer Wright got an 84 score on South Point from Sutton Rodeo. Lefty Holman scored 85 on Onion Ring, Korkow’s bronc that was the best bareback bronc at the Houston rodeo earlier this year. And the high scorer and winner was Wade Sundell, the current PRCA World Champion, from Boxholm, Iowa, with an 86 score on Burch Rodeo’s bronc named Maria Bartiroma.
Bud Townsend presented to Wade Sundell the bronze, ‘Tornado’ by Tony Chytka, artist from Belle Fourche, SD. This was Wade’s third year in a row to win the Casey Tibbs Bucking Match. He’s a showy rider, and doesn’t hesitate to jump off his bronc and wave to the audience, once the 8 second whistle blows. Kind of reminds me of Casey Tibbs sixty or more years ago. He certainly gives the fans a tremendous show.
Bud and I are now home, back in Texas, and we have so many wonderful memories of our journey to Fort Pierre and the Casey Tibbs Matched Bucking. If you haven’t made a trip to Fort Pierre, SD, and attended this Matched Bucking, you should. It is worth the trip. For information about next year’s event you can always call 605-494-1094 or go to www.caseytibbs.com. If you are in the area go visit the Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center museum, you’ll be glad you did.