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Local, non-local bull riders rave about Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo

“I grew up coming here to this bull riding and the stands are always packed and it’s a great atmosphere,” Avon's Jeff Bertus said. “It’s just a lot of fun coming here.”

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Jeff Bertus, of Avon, rides Tiger King in the final section of Thursday's Xtreme Bulls PRCA event at Horseman's Arena (Matt Gade / Republic)
Matt Gade

The Corn Palace isn’t Mitchell’s only summer attraction.

At Thursday’s Xtreme Bulls Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association event, 32 bull riders came from all over the country looking to pocket money. It was the first night of the 50th annual Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo, which continues at 8 p.m. tonight and concludes Sunday at Horseman’s Sports Arena.

While the bull riding event attracted riders making their Mitchell debut, Avon’s Jeff Bertus held his own and scored a 79-point qualified ride just 55 miles from home.

“I grew up coming here to this bull riding and the stands are always packed and it’s a great atmosphere,” Bertus said. “It’s just a lot of fun coming here.”

Top competitors to watch at this week’s Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo The 50th annual Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo, which is one of 27 pro rodeos from July 15-18, will attract hundreds of cowboys and cowgirls in search of money. 

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Bertus’ score of 79 on the bull, Tiger King, was good enough for eighth place and he pocketed $372. Bertus took Tiger King’s best shot out of bucking chutes, but regathered himself and stayed on for the required eight-second ride.

“About halfway through the end of that ride, he kind of got me sitting back,” Bertus said. “So thankfully I was able to get back to the front and finish him off.”

Bertus entered the week tied for 15th place in the Badlands Circuit standings, but said Thursday’s round could be a momentum builder.

“This gives you some confidence and it keeps you going and ready for that next one,” Bertus said.

Bertus rode in Burke’s first-ever PRCA event on Friday, while he’s set to compete again Sunday in Mitchell. It’s all part of the busiest and best time of the year for cowboys and cowgirls.

“This is awesome and this is my favorite time of the year,” Bertus said. “So it’s always awesome coming here to Mitchell.”

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Clayton Sellars, of Fruitland Park, Fla., rides Western Ways in the final section of the bull bash on Thursday night during the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo at Horseman's Arena (Matt Gade / Republic)
Matt Gade

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Clayton Sellars, meanwhile, was making his first trip to Mitchell. Sellars, who hails from Fruitland Park, Florida, posted an 88.5 to capture the No. 1 score and took home $3,722 for the win.

Not a bad day’s work for riding in unfamiliar territory.

“I have never been to Mitchell, South Dakota,” Sellars said. “But I am very glad I came and I am very thankful for the town and the committee for having us. We will put it on the list and we will be back next year.”

Florida's Clayton Sellars scores high-point ride at Xtreme Bulls PRCA event in Mitchell “I have never been to Mitchell, South Dakota,” Clayton Sellars said. “But I am very glad I came and I am very thankful for the town and the committee for having us. We will put it on the list and we will be back next year.”

Sellars, who is a two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier, was the last rider of the night and he thrilled the crowd with his ride. He conquered the bull, Western Ways, for the required eight-second ride and emphatically raised his arms in the air after the high-point ride.

“It was just that fulfillment kind of feeling,” Sellars described about the ride. “You travel all this way and wait around all day to do your job and when you do it successfully, it makes you feel good. That was pretty nice to hear the crowd go crazy and the winning score was kind of icing on the cake.”

Sellars entered the event as the No. 1 ranked bull rider in the Xtreme Bulls standings with just under $50,000. He’s also earned more than $75,000 this season and is third in the world standings.

Most recently, he was in rodeos in Sheridan, Wyoming and Casper, Wyoming. He’s set to ride in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Friday as his busy schedule continues.

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“You have to love it, man,” Sellars said about the hectic schedule. “It’s back-to-back-to-back. We can win truckloads of money every single day we wake up.”

Trey Kimzey, of Strong City, Oklahoma, posted an 88 and pocketed $2,853. Kimzey scored the 88-point ride on the bull, Cocktail Diarrhea. He set the pace in the event’s second section before Sellars edged him on the final ride.

“You couldn’t ask for a better one,” Kimzey said about his ride. “In the door to the right, kicking and spinning. There’s literally not much more you could ask for out of one.”

Kimzey, who is qualified for the 2019 WNFR, has earned more than $165,000 in career earnings. This season, he’s been traveling with Fort Scott, Kansas’ Creek Young, who scored an 83 on Thursday and earned $620.

Up next, the pair will hit rodeos in Sheridan, Wyoming and Colorado Springs, Colorado, while they continue to chase money criss-crossing the country.

“It’s still kind of Cowboy Christmas for us,” Kimzey said. “So it’s just awesome. You get to see the whole country and we just live our dream while we do it.”

Kimzey will also circle the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo on his calendar.

“This is my first time and the way it looks, we will probably have to come back,” he said.

Related Topics: RODEO
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