- Paul Cooley
OPENING NIGHT 2016
Gerry – The combination of perfect weather and a large number of cowboys from the top 25 in the World rankings resulted in some of the best competition ever for the near capacity crowd on the opening night of the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department’s 72nd annual profession rodeo.
Following the opening ceremonies which included a salute to all military members, police, and fire department volunteers, the national anthem, and the grand entry, the fans were treated to outstanding bareback saddle bronc riding as Tim O’Connell of Zwingle, Iowa, lived up to his number one spot in the World ranking in this event with a first place score of 80.5 on a bronc named Logan’s Crossing. His score barely edged out Cole Picton, Marshall, Missouri, by one-half of a point. Three other cowboys had successful rides within three points of the leaders.
Close again was the word in the steer wrestling as Woodstown, New Jersey’s, Ryan Whetham threw his steer to the dirt in 5.2 seconds. He was followed closely by Mike Cliver of Westfield, Pennsylvania, at 5.6. Two other cowboys posted times under 10 seconds, while three others were unsuccessful, thus losing their $100 entry fee.
The team roping, where one cowboy lassos the steer’s head while the other ropes its hind legs, was won by two New Jersey cowboys, Colby Clement and Ryan Whetham with a time of eight seconds flat. Second place went to the team of Roger Stockton and Casey Cox, who both hail from Ballston Spa, New York, with a posting of 8.5 seconds.
Sterling Crawley, Stephenville, Texas, who is currently ranked at 12th in the World in the saddle bronc event, put an outstanding ride on his mount to take first with an 83 score. Eleven time National Finals Rodeo qualifier, Cody DeMoss, Heflin, Louisiana, was a distant second with a 72 point ride.
The dry weather enabled the tie-down ropers to display their best skills as three cowboys tied their calves within 1.1 seconds of each other, led by Zac Wilson, Billingsley, Alabama, with a time of 9.0 seconds, followed by Justin Thigpen, Waycross, Georgia, at 9.3 and Lane Miller, Abbott, Texas at 10.4.
The fans were on their feet for the cowgirls’ barrel racing as some very fast times were posted, in the ride in cloverleaf fashion around the three barrels with only .24 of a second separating the top two.
Wendy Chesnut traveled from Poultney, Vermont, to take first at 14.25 seconds, followed by Robin Weaver of Mahaffey, Pennsylvania, with 14.59 time.
The bull riders were not as lucky as the rest of the competitors as seven cowboys from as far away as Mississippi and Iowa saw their hopes for taking home some of the $45,000 prize money dashed as the Painted Pony Championship Rodeo’s bulls proved too tough, tossing all seven to the arena dirt in less than the required eight seconds.
World Champion trick rider Haley Ganzel amazed the fans with the performance of her horse Crazy Cloud as he performed numerous feats including dancing, marching, bowing, and completed his performance by standing on a pedestal in the traditional “End of the Trail” pose. Tonight she will entertain the crowds on Military and Fire Fighters Night by performing her death defying trick riding.
The famous rodeo beef dinners were again a favorite of rodeo fans as chef Bruce Gustafson reports that although he does not have final figures, there were approximately 600 dinners served. The dinners will be served beginning at 5:00 each of the next three nights.
The rodeo action continues tonight and Friday and Saturday at 8:00 in the arena five miles north of Jamestown, New York, with more than 200 cowboys and cowgirls from 31 states competing. This is now the longest consecutively professional rodeo east of the Mississippi with all proceeds benefitting the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department, which answers approximately 350 fire and rescue calls each year.
Additional information is available at the website www.gerryrodeo.org or by phone at (716) 985-4847 or 1-888-985-4847.