Scott Mansch, email@example.com
It was hard to say whether Kory Mytty was roping or recruiting Thursday night.
"A little of both," he said with a grin.
Mytty, the talented team roper from Lolo was always seems to save his best for Great Falls, was among several familiar figures in the spotlight as the Big Sky Pro Rodeo Roundup continued before a great grandstand crowd at Montana ExpoPark.
The heeler and his partner, young Austin Barstow of Springview, Neb., turned in the best run of the evening in the team roping. A little later, Mytty was hanging behind the bucking chutes watching some young cowboys who might be interested, perhaps, in joining the University of Montana team.
That's where Mytty is the head rodeo coach.
"We didn't draw an awesome steer, but we got it roped," said Mytty. "That kid I'm roping with reached his whole rope, got him around the horns and I luckily heeled him pretty fast."
Their time of 5.7 seconds seems certain to place in the second go-round. It wouldn't be the first time Mytty made some money in the Electric City rodeo arena.
"I love Great Falls," Mytty said. "This is the rodeo capital of Montana in my opinion."
He was on the lookout for young rodeo talent this night.
"Just watching the kids from other schools and always trying to look at younger talent, maybe kids going to those two-year schools who might want to transfer next year," Mytty said.
Long considered one of Montana's premier ropers, Mytty, 45, is enjoying his new role as a recruiter.
"I do love it. I think it's fun to help the kids and trying to build a team where we can compete with these other schools," he said.
Among Mytty's recruits for next year is former Centerville all-around athlete Bryer Davis, a team roper. Davis and his father, Brant, are roping together this summer and having abundant success in both the Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit and the Northern Rodeo Association.
Barstow, meanwhile, had a nice run in the tie-down roping as the $151,693 PRCA rodeo passed the halfway point before another sizable crowd. It was "Tough Enough To Wear Pink Night," an annual rodeo fundraiser for breast cancer awareness.
Other notable effort came in the steer wrestling, where Silver Star standout Shawn Downing turned in a solid effort, and in the saddle bronc, where former National Finals Rodeo performer Dusty Hausauer of North Dakota had a 78-point ride. Many of the winners in the bronc riding, though, were the broncs of Ike Sankey. Among the buckers that got the best of the cowboys was Sankey's famed "Shining Mountain."
Also, Lindsay Kruse of Winston had a typically fast run in the barrel racing to earn a spot on the leaderboard. The two-time Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit champion is leading the circuit this summer and had another smooth run around the barrels on "Harley."
Meanwhile, behind the bucking chutes cowboys and well-wishers alike gathered around Jesse Kruse, Lindsay's husband. Jesse, a former C.M. Russell High and University of Montana athlete, is the only Great Falls man to win a world rodeo championship. The former gold buckle-winner in the bronc rider is recovering these days from hip surgery.
Ryan Mapston, the former NFR star from Arlee who made 10 trips to Las Vegas in an 18-year bronc riding career, was among those offering encouragement to Kruse.
"Well," Mapston said, "injuries are part of it. That's what everybody's faced with every day when you nod your head. The chances of getting hurt are pretty high. Hopefully Jesse will be healing up quick."
Mapston, who is now retired and living in Belt, is regarded as one of the top bronc riders in Treasure State history. He rarely misses a rodeo in these parts. And, he said, he wasn't surprised to see Kruse behind the chutes.
"This is what we do," he said. "It's where our friends are. We know everybody and everybody knows us. It's a part of who we are."
The recovery time for Kruse is expected to be three to six months. Mapston said the pro bronc riding world is pulling for him.
"He's done a great job," Mapston said. "Hopefully he can get healed up. He's going to have to take enough time off, though, to get the thing healed up properly. Sometimes a guy gets anxious to get back at it and comes back too quick. I hope he takes the time necessary. But I expect him to recover and get back to the Finals again."
In the bull riding, there have been just two qualified rides the first three performances of the rodeo. One was Thursday night as Clayton Savage of Yoder, Wyo., made it eight seconds aboard Sankey's "St. Patrick."
The rodeo continued tonight and concludes on Saturday night.