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  • Paul Cooley


Gerry – One of the largest crowds of rodeo fans in recent years turned out to experience the excitement of professional rodeo in the final night of competition of the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department’s 72nd consecutive year of bringing traditional Western rodeo to the Chautauqua area.

The number one ranked cowboy in the World bareback bronc rankings, Tim O’Connell, made his trip from Zwingle, Iowa, worthwhile as he rode his bronc on opening night for 80.5 points which held up for the week and gave him the championship by one-half point over Tanner Phipps from Dalton, Georgia. The best score on Saturday night was a 77 point ride by Shelton Murphy of Headland, Alabama.

The saddle bronc event was won by Sterling Crawley, Stephenville, Texas, with an outstanding 83 point ride in the Wednesday performance. Second place was captured in the closing night with a 79 point ride by Shane Proctor from Grand Coulee, Washington.

All but one of the eight steer wrestlers were able to throw their steers with A.J. Williams of Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania, posting the fastest time at 5.5 seconds, leaving him just three-tenths of a second behind the best time of the week, a 5.2 second time by Ryan Whetham, Woodstown, New Jersey, in the chase for the top score. However, the best combined score on two steers was by Greg Rounds, Sickerville, New Jersey at 16.8, giving him the championship.

The team ropers were at the top of their game this night as four teams posted times faster than the previous best time of the week with Darren Morgan, Fort Ann New York and Shawn Quinn, Schuylerville, New York, roping their steer in 6.6 seconds. They were followed by two other New York cowboys, Frank Fernandez of Johnstown and Robbie Erck of Fort Edward with a time of 7.6 seconds.

In spite of perfect weather and arena conditions, the tie-down ropers had a tough night as no one came close to the 9.0 time posted by Zac Wilson, from Billingsley, Alabama, earlier in the week. Saturday’s best time was by Matt McKinstry, Fort Edward, New York, with a time of 12.2. Veteran Carmine Nastri, of Ballston, New York, a 23 time circuit champ in this event posted no time as he failed to rope his calf.

The women’s barrel racing saw no one come close to beating the 14.25 time posted by Poultney, Vermont’s Wendy Chesnut on opening night. Saturday’s best time was a 15.16 ride by Kristine Roy from Hagaman, New York. There were three riders whose horse knocked over a barrel, thus incurring a penalty of five seconds.

A bull rider from Statesville, North Carolina, Eli Vastbinder, made his long trip a successful one as he rode a bull named Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire for 83 points, only the second successful ride on Painted Pony bulls for the week. The bulls won the rest of the evening’s bouts as they showed no respect for even Shane Proctor, the 2011 World Champion bull rider, with his bull tossing him in rather quick fashion.

Rodeo chairman Tom Atwell terms the rodeo “a great success” and passes his thanks on to the fans and sponsors for their support and to the many volunteers who made the event possible.

Official results regarding the winners and the amounts won will be available to the media by Monday as well as being posted on the rodeo website

Photo: The four night event brought nearly 200 pro cowboys and cowgirls from across the nation to compete for approximately $50,000 in prize money in the seven competitive rodeo events. Among the competitors were a number of the top rodeo athletes in the World rankings.

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