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  • Paul Cooley


GERRY – Professional rodeo has always been a sport that leads the way in honoring our country, and that reputation showed itself in a big way as the Gerry Fire Department’s 74th rodeo kicked off its second performance before a near capacity crowd under ideal weather conditions.

The evening opened with ten young recruits being sworn into the United States Army, followed with a tribute by announcer Greg Simas to past and present military members and first responders, resulting in in a prolonged standing ovation by the fans. A huge United States flag that covered nearly half of the arena was presented by military and fire department members prior to the National Anthem.

Rodeo competition began with the bareback bronc riders trying to beat the 80-point ride posted on opening night. The first three cowboys posted scores but all failed to take the lead. The last cowboy out, Ethan Anderpont from Deridder, Louisiana, saw his bronc fail to perform well so was awarded a re-ride by the judges, and he made the most of it by riding a second bronc named Hell’s Canyon for 83 points, a score that will be tough to beat the rest of the week.

The steer wrestlers, who each paid a $150 entry fee, had a tough night as only three cowboys were able to throw their steers to the arena dirt, but two of those posted fast times. Cord Spradley from Hoboken, Georgia, was fastest at 5.8 seconds and a Kissimmee, Florida, cowboy, Mose Fleming, was close behind at 6.2 seconds. They still trail the 4.5 time posted by Justin Thigpen, Waycross, Georgia, on Wednesday night.

The team ropers saw two teams post times faster than the opening night’s best time, as pair of veteran ropers from Florida showed the younger generation how it is done. Nelson Linares, Hialeah, and Spunk Sasser, San Antonio, roped their steers horns and legs in 5.3 seconds. Second place also went to a pair of Florida cowboys as Hayden Grant from Bronson and Dillon Bird of Willison were one second behind at 6.8.

Loren Hullinger Davis City, Iowa, was awarded a re-ride in the saddle bronc event and made the most of it as he took over first place with q 76.5 score, one-half second faster than the best time on opening night. Kirk Nelson, Branson, Missouri, stayed aboard Thomas and Mack, one of the nation’s top broncs, for 71.5 points. Clark Griswold from Bainbridge, New York, was thrown from his bronc which stepped on him. He lay in the arena for a few minutes before being assisted out, only to return to ride a bull later in the performance.

Justin Thigpen, who leads in the steer wrestling, continued his lead in the tie-down roping event as none of the eleven ropers could match his 11.0 seconds time. The best time for this performance came from Robbie Erck, Ft. Edward, New York, at 12.5 seconds followed by Cody Clement, Pedricktown, New Jersey, with a 13.5 time.

For some unknown reason the times in the in the cowgirls’ barrel racing event were slower as no one was able to break the 15 seconds mark, while four ladies did so on opening night. The fastest time this night went to Irene Feaser, Newburg, Pennsylvania, with a time of 15.44 seconds. She was followed by closely by Jennifer Romreill, Greensboro, Maryland, who was only one one-hundredth of a second behind, and Jayme Myers, Felton, Pennsylvania, at 15.49. Myers is the wife of veteran team roping and tie-down roping champion J.R. Myers.

The shutout streak for Painted Pony’s bulls came to an end as Will Crain, St. Peter, Illinois, drew a bull named Hulk Hogan and rode him for 79 points for the only qualified ride of the week. The courage

award so far in the rodeo has to go to Clark Griswold as he got back on a bull after his injury sustained in the saddle bronc event, but got bucked off again.

Four-time World Champion trick roper Rider Kiesner, who has performed in many of the nation’s biggest rodeo including the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, thrilled the fans with his skill with the ropes as well as gun twirling and exciting whip demonstrations. His act was even more impressive as many of his rope tricks are performed on horseback and, since he flew here from Wyoming, he is using a borrowed horse. He will be a part of both final shows.

The rodeo continues tonight and Saturday at 8:00 with 230 cowboys and cowgirls from 30 states and four Canadian provinces competing for more than $45,000. The roast beef dinners will be served both evenings beginning at 5:00. This is now the longest consecutively running professional rodeo east of the Mississippi with all proceeds benefitting the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department. Additional information is available at the website or by phone at (716) 985-4847.

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