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More than 4,000 people come out for rodeo's second night

Sean Nicolaus, of Mitchell, competes in the bull riding event at the 44th annual Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo Friday at Horseman's Sports Arena in Mitchell. (Nick McCutcheon/Republic)1 / 2
Header Tyrell Moody, of Letcher, competes in the team roping event at the 44th annual Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo Friday at Horseman’s Sports Arena in Mitchell. (Nick McCutcheon/Republic)2 / 2

It was standing room only for the second night of the 44th Annual Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo on Friday at the Horseman's Sports Arena in Mitchell.

The paid attendance for the second-go performance was 4,008, which is the largest crowd at the event on any night since 2009, according to Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo Chairman Jim Miskimins.

"It has been a long time since we backed people up on to Highway 37 like that," Miskimins said late Friday night. "We thank people for coming out. We expect a big crowd again (tonight) and look forward to seeing the excellent entertainment. We're hoping the grounds are full again."

The crowd was treated to several exciting performances, including some new names atop the overall event leaderboards.

Travis Nelson, of Philip, said he did not look at the saddle bronc standings heading into his performance Friday, but knew he had to have a strong performance due to the quality of cowboys in Mitchell.

"It's a circuit rodeo and it's always tough competition coming over here," said Nelson, who is competing in his third Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo. "You get about as good of competition here as you do anywhere."

Nelson is tied at the top of the saddle bronc event with his go Friday. He finished with a score of 76, pulling him even with Jeremy Means, of Eagle Butte. Means scored his 76 on Thursday.

The bull riding event, which closes out the rodeo each night, featured two area cowboys. Sean Nicolaus, of Mitchell, and Bubba Easton, of Wessington Springs, each got bucked off their bull without scoring.

Two riders were able to stay on their bull for the full 8 seconds. Guthrie Murray, of Miami, Okla., scored a 77, while Joey Koupal, a graduate of Mitchell Technical Institute and native of Dante, scored a 76. Dalton James Votaw, of Liberty, Texas, remains in first place after the second night with his 80-point ride Thursday.

The fast action and intensity of bull riding makes the event a fan favorite, according to Jim Porter, of Mitchell.

"Bull riding is exciting because it's fast and furious," Porter said.

Bareback riding made its 2014 debut at the rodeo on Friday. Three riders stayed on their horse to post a score, led by Troy Vaira, of Richey, Mont., who scored a 77. Thomas Ladd Kronberg, of Forbes, N.D., scored a 69, while Blake Smith, of Zap, N.D., posted a 67.

The cowboys in the team roping event came ready to go Friday, after just one pair posted a time on night one. Six of the eight pairs performing on night two ended on the leaderboard. The team of Nick Sartain, of Dover, Okla., and Rich Skelton, of Llano, Texas, finished in 4.9 seconds to give the pair the best time Friday and the overall lead in the team roping event.

Header Tyrell Moody, of Letcher, and his partner, healer Rory Brown, of Edgemont, were third place with a time of 6.1 seconds on Friday. The team is also sitting in third place overall.

Jim Hansen, of Watford City, N.D., had the best time in steer wrestling in the second go with a time of 3.3 seconds. Hansen has the best go through the second day of the rodeo.

Clint Kindred posted a time of 7.6 seconds in tie-down roping to take the overall event lead. Britany Diaz took over the lead in women's barrel racing with a time of 15.39 seconds.

The Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo continues at 8 p.m. today at Horseman's Sports Arena in Mitchell. The final performance starts at 8 p.m. Sunday.