Scott Mansch, email@example.com
Wade Sundell is no stranger to Great Falls, but the saddle bronc star got an introduction to Ike Sankey’s fine horse “Tuca’s Warsong” on Wednesday night.
And it turned out to be a profitable meeting.
Sunday, the Iowa native and six-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier, earned 84 points aboard to take the lead in the bronc riding as the PRCA Big Sky Pro Rodeo Roundup continued before another large crowd at Montana ExpoPark.
“That’s a good horse. I’d never been on him and was glad to have him here,” Sundell said.
Sundell, who was limping when the dust settled thanks to a slight ankle injury, rose to the top of the leaderboard on a night when a star-studded roster of bronc riders competed. And many, including twins Jesse and Jake Wright, Cole Elshere and Shorty Garrett, came up short of the eight-second whistle.
Sundell has finished as high as second in the world standings and is chasing his first gold buckle. He took the lead Wednesday in the hometown of former traveling partner Jesse Kruse, the Great Falls man and former world champion who only recently returned to riding after recovering from hip surgery. Kruse is scheduled to ride on Friday.
“Hopefully that score holds up, but Jesse’ll be knocking on my door, I’m pretty sure,” said Sundell, a charismatic cowboy who is once again in position to earn a trip to Las Vegas. “It’s awesome to see him back riding.”
In the bareback riding, another NFR veteran produced a crowd roar as Jessy Davis, the Utah native who lives now in Power, took the lead with an 83-point ride. Davis was scheduled to ride Sankey’s “Mony,” but got aboard “Music” at the last minute in a switch.
“Actually a pretty good trade for me,” Davis said with a smile. “I’ve seen that horse at the Circuit Finals and wanted to draw him. Finally did. It worked out pretty good, especially with the hometown crowd.”
Great Falls isn’t exactly Dustin Bird’s home, but judging by the reception he always receives here it’s close enough for the Cut Bank man. On Wednesday, Bird and his team roping partner, heeler Chase Tryan, shot to the top of the leaderboard in the second go-round with a 5-second run. The duo also placed in the first go with a 5.5-second effort. They lead the average.
“It’s awesome to be roping with Dustin,” said Tryan, whose cousins Clay and Travis have earned considerable team roping glory. “The guy’s good, about as good as it gets.”
Chase and former partner Kevin Daniel qualified for the 2012 NFR, when they finished fourth in the world. Now Chase hopes to go back to Las Vegas with Bird.
“We’ve got some more work to do, but that’s the goal,” Chase said.
Meanwhile, the famous Sherry Cervi was in town aboard her equally famed mount “Sting Ray.” Cervi, a four-time world champion and the leading money-winner in barrel racing history, had a nice ride but failed to crack the top-three in the standings.
“I have a great horse and I’m grateful to be here in Great Falls,” said Cervi. “My parents raised ‘Sting Ray’ and he’s proved to be really, really good.”
Cervi has persevered despite a considerable amount of tragedy. Her first husband, Mike Cervi, was killed in a plane crash 14 years ago. Her advice for dealing with adversity?
“You have a choice,” she said. “You can either fall in a hole, like you want to, or decide that life goes on and know that everything happens for reason, appreciate what you have and enjoy life.”
Cervi, who is now married to team roping star Cory Petska, is once again in the hunt for a return trip to Las Vegas. She entered the week ranked fourth in the world standings.
The top time in the barrel racing Wednesday was turned in by reigning Montana Circuit champion Carmel Wright of Roy. She spurred her way to second in the rodeo standings with a 14.37-second time.
The bull riding late Wednesday night featured exceptional rides from Jordan Hansen and Parker Breding. Hansen, of Okotoks in Alberta, registered an 85-point ride while Breding, the young Edgar star and NFR veteran who is currently ranked fifth in the world standings, had an 83-point ride. Those scores rank first and second.
The first go was completed Wednesday in several events. Winners included Shawn Bessette-Sid Sporer (team roping), Shane Hanchley (tie-down roping) and Sterling Lambert (steer wrestling).
The rodeo continues with three more nights of action in front of the Montana ExpoPark grandstand.
1. Jessy Davis, 83; 2. Tyler Scales, 81; 3. Tyler Nelson, 80; 4. (tie) George Gillespie IV, Anthony Thomas and Devan Reilly, 78; 7. Austin Foss, 76; 8. Cavan Wrzesinski, 68
First Go-Round: 1. Shawn Bessette, Great Falls-Sid Sporer, Cody, Wyo., 4.7, $1,347.43 each; 2. Eric Rogers, Round Rock, Ariz.-Cory Petska, Marana, Ariz., 1,115.11 each; 3. (tie) Cole Sherwood, San Tan Valley, Ariz.-Steve Sherwood, Grace, Idaho, 5.4, and Kadden Richard-Cody Doescher, Roosevelt, Utah, 5.4, $766.64 each; 5. Dustin Bird, Cut Bank-Chase Tryan, Helena, 5.5, $418.17 each; 6. Riley Minor-Brady Minor, Ellensburg, Wash., 5.9, $232.32 each
Second Go-Round: 1. Dustin Bird-Chase Tryan, 5.0; 2. Riley Minor-Brady Minor, 6.4; 3. Garrett Tonozzi-Clint Robinson, 10.2
Tie Down Roping
First Go-Round: 1. Shane Hanchey, Sulphur, La., 8.6, $1,748.53; 2. (tie) Rhen Richard, Roosevelt, Utah, and Logan Hofer, Magrath, Alberta, 9.2, $1,296.32 each; 4. Ryan Jarrett, Comanche, Okla., 9.5, $542.65; 5. Mike Johnson, Henryetta, Okla., 10.3, $542.65; 6. Chad Johnson, Cut Bank, 10.7, $301.47
First Go-Round: 1. Sterling Lambert, Fallon, Nev., 4.0, $1,649.30; 2. Stan Branco, Chowchilla, Calif., 4.2, $1,434.17; 3. Olin Hannum, Malad, Idaho. 4.3, $1,219.05; 4. Dakota Eldridge, Elko, Nev., 4.5, $1,003.92; 5. (tie) Morgan Grant, Granton, Ont., Sean Santucci, Prineville, Ore., and Jason Thomas, Benton, Ariz., 4.6, $573.67 each; 8. Ty Erickson, Helena, 4.7, $143.42
Wade Sundell, 86; 2. Zeke Thurston, 84; 3. Jake Watson, 82; 4. (tie) CoBurn Bradshaw, and Cort Scheer, 81; 6. Layton Green, 80; 7. Chase Brooks, 78; 8. (tie) Chanse Darling, Travis Nelson and Chet Johnson 77
Jordan Hansen, 85; 2. Parker Breding, 83; 3. Garrett Smith, 82; 4. Jared Parsonage, 77; 5. Brady Portenier, 71
Vickie Carter, 14.35; 2. Carmel Wright, 14.37; 3. Megan Lewis, 14.45; 4. Ivy Conrado, 14.50, and Rachel Dice, 14.50; 6. Hailey Kinsel, 14.52; 7. Shelby Hermann, 14.54; 8. Pamela Capper, 14.59; 9. Kelsie McInerney, 14.65; 10. Sherry Cervi, 14.66; 11. Christina Richman, 14.69; 12. Sherrylynn Johnson, 14.73; 13. Milee Dailey, 14.75; 14. Heather Knerr, 14.79; 15. Heather Dunning, 14.80; 15. Torie Briese, 14.80