Big guns of Badlands Circuit ready for MitchellAlthough Lethcer native Jill Moody, the defending Wrangler National Finals Rodeo barrel racing champion, won’t be competing, there will be plenty of other former WNFR qualifiers in the field when the Corn Palace Stamped Rodeo begins tonight at 8 p.m. And, as always, the list of entrants is littered with some of the area’s best talents, as well as some of the biggest names from the Badlands Circuit.
By: Matt Bunke, The Daily Republic
For the third consecutive year, Letcher native Jill Moody will miss the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo when the four-day event begins tonight at 8 p.m. at the Horseman’s Sports Arena.
But while Moody, the defending Wrangler National Finals Rodeo barrel racing champion, won’t be competing, there will be plenty of other former WNFR qualifiers in the field. And, as always, the list of entrants is littered with some of the area’s best talents, as well as some of the biggest names from the Badlands Circuit.
Moody, who had been at the Corn Palace Stampede for 10 years in a row until 2007, has been focusing on bigger rodeos with larger payouts over recent years, a decision that led to her racking up nearly $220,000 in earnings last year and finishing second in the world rankings.
Still, she said she was hoping to be back in Mitchell this week to perform in front of the hometown fans.
“I love that rodeo,” Moody said recently while on the road. “I miss that rodeo and I hate not being there.”
As recently as a few weeks ago, Moody hadn’t ruled out a return to Mitchell, and she was trying to figure out a way to make it work. However, with her travels scheduled to take her to Calgary and California, finding a way to make it back to Mitchell at the same time would have been very difficult.
“It’s hard to go from Salinas (Calif.) to Mitchell and then back to Cheyenne (Wyo.),” Moody said.
But while Moody will be absent, some of the top guns from the Badlands Circuit will be competing in almost every event, including a number of area competitors.
In bareback riding, Rapid City’s Scott Montague — last year’s Corn Palace Stampede champion in the event — will be back. He sits No. 2 in the Badlands Circuit standings, and is a four-time WNFR qualifier who finished 26th in the world last year. Montague’s stiffest compeition could come from Tigh Anderberg of Mobridge, who is No. 2 in the circuit rankings.
Mandan, N.D.’s Cole Hermanson is ranked No. 1 on the circuit in bull riding, and he’ll be competing in Mitchell as well. Huron’s Tater Hins will be in the bull riding field, and he’s No. 2 in the standings.
Winner’s Clint Sargent is seventh in the bull riding standings and Forestburg’s Charles Zoss is 10th. Both will be competing this weekend.
Jay Mattson of Deadwood is the top-ranked tie-down roper on the Badlands Circuit, and should be among the favorites this weekend in Mitchell. Wessington Springs’ Tyler Fagerhaug is second in the latest standings and Plankinton’s Owen Fagerhaug is eighth.
Faith’s Cole Elshere leads the group of Badlands Circuit saddle bronc riders in Mitchell. He is fourth in the latest rankings.
In steer wrestling, Clay Cowan of Highmore is second on the Badlands Circuit. He won the steer wrestling average title at the circuit finals last year to advance to his second Dodge National Finals Circuit Rodeo.
In team roping, Jess Tierney, who holds the top spot in the Badlands all-around rankings and is the third-ranked header, will be in attendance. He won the Badlands all-around title in 2008. Brett Price of Faith, the top ranked header will also team with Paul Griemsman of Piedmont, the top-ranked heeler on the circuit.
Barrel racer Britany Fleck of Mandan, N.D. leads the Badlands Circuit and will be in Mitchell, and Tammy Whyte of Eau Claire, Wis., leads the Great Lakes Circuit. Also scheduled to compete are Jessica Routier of Buffalo (2nd Badlands), Tamra Musick of Virgil (5th), Amy Schimke of Wessington Springs (8th) and Wendy Halweg of Mitchell (9th).
“One thing that we take pride in is that our rodeo is one of the best rodeos in the Badlands Circuit,” rodeo director Jim Miskimins said. “We’re proud that the cowboys from our area are very loyal to the Corn Palace Stampede. Even if we don’t have a large list of folks traveling in from other parts of the country, we’ve got some of the very best cowboys and cowgirls in the nation close to home.”
There will, however, be a few cowboys in town that have impressive PRCA resumes or famous ties in pro rodeo.
n In bull riding, Bobby Welsh of Gillette, Wyo., won almost $200,000 last year, and has two WNFR qualifications, including wins in a number of rounds. Clint Craig of Mena, Ark., also has two previous WNFR qualifications.
n In saddle bronc, PRCA veteran Red Remmel of Faith has three WNFR qualifications since joining the PRCA in 1985. He has finished as high as seventh in the world in 2001 and won several rounds at the WNFR, all while racking up more than $600,000 in winnings in his career.
n In steer wrestling, Ivan Teigen of Camp Crook has qualified for seven WNFRs since joining the PRCA in 1980. The 50-year-old won the NFR average title in 1990 and finished 14th in the world as recently as 2004.
n In tie-down roping, header Bobby Harris of Highmore has won almost $2 million since joining the PRCA in 1978. He has one WNFR qualification, when he won the average title with JD Yates.
n In team roping, Mel Potter of Marana, Ariz., qualified for the very first WNFR in 1959. The now-72-year-old had shoulder replacement surgery a few years ago, but came back last year to qualify for the Great Lakes Circuit Finals with his grandson.
n Also competing will be several cowboys with famous family ties. Saddle bronc rider Kane Gjermundson of Marshall, N.D., is the son of four-time world champion and Hall of Famer Brad Gjermundson. Caine Riddle of Vernon, Texas, is the son of eight-time WNFR bareback riding qualifier Rusty Riddle. Jess and Paul David Tierney are also entered in Mitchell, and are the sons of former PRCA all-around and tie-down roping world champion Paul Tierney of Oral.
—Leah Rado contributed to this story.