PUEBLO, COLO. – This win couldn’t have come at a better time for steer wrestler Dakota Eldridge.
Scrambling to qualify for his third consecutive Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Eldridge captured a big victory at the Sept. 2 Wrangler Champions Challenge, presented by Justin Boots, with a 4.6-second time at the Colorado State Fair.
“This was awesome timing,” said Eldridge, who was competing for the B&W Trailer Hitches team. “I’m glad to be in these things (Wrangler Champions Challenges), and at the end of the year, they're good bullets to have.”
The $5,440 check was a huge boost for Eldridge. He was 16th in the Aug. 31 Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings with $54,025. He trailed Casey Martin, in 15th-place, by $145.
“I have hit some big licks this year, but they've come off and on,” Eldridge said. “Then, I kind of drew the bad end of them there for two weeks and trying to do that and keep your head up is tough. I just tried to stay positive because rodeo is full of ups and downs and you're going to have the downs. So when you get good steers, you have to be positive and that’s what I was able to do.”
At the WCC event, Eldridge was riding his good friend and fellow steer wrestler Ty Erickson’s horse, Shakem, a former racehorse.
“I left my horse (Rusty) at Ellensburg (Wash.),” Eldridge said. “I've never been on (Shakem) before, but he was a really good horse. I saw Ty ride him a lot, and I was a little bit nervous to ride him, but I listened to Ty and he told me exactly how to ride him, and the horse was awesome. Ty’s a great buddy of mine. We're both young and we're both just starting out and I feel like we have a lot in common.”
Erickson was leading the Aug, 31 standings with $73,237.
Eldridge punched his ticket to the Wrangler NFR in 2013 and '14, finishing fifth both years. The Elko, Nev., cowboy would love nothing more than to make another trip to Vegas this December. The regular season ends Sept. 30.
“I just need to do my best to keep winning,” Eldridge said. “(The WNFR is) too good of a rodeo to miss when it's in my home state. This year is a crucial year to make it there. A guy can make some substantial money."
Other winners at the $123,600 rodeo were bareback rider Seth Hardwick (86 points on Harry Vold Rodeo Company's Little Linda) on Team Las Vegas, team ropers Nick Sartain and Rich Skelton (5.6 seconds) on Team Experience Kissimmee, saddle bronc rider Jake Wright (87.5 points on Harry Vold Rodeo Company's Happy Valley) on Team Wrangler, tie-down roper Marty Yates (7.9 seconds) on Team RAM, barrel racer Callie DuPerier (17.10 seconds) on Team Colorado Springs Airport, and bull rider Cody Teel (87.5 points on Mo Betta Rodeo's Slick Hills) on Team Texas Landmen.
Pueblo Colorado Champions Challenge
Pueblo, Colo., Sept. 2
Bareback riding: 1. Seth Hardwick, 86 points on Harry Vold Rodeo Company's Little Linda, $5,440; 2. Steven Peebles, 84, $4,160; 3. (tie) Kaycee Feild, Bobby Mote, and Jake Brown, 83, $2,133 each.
Steer wrestling: 1. Dakota Eldridge, 4.6 seconds, $5,440; 2. Ty Erickson, 4.8, $4,160; 3. Kyle Irwin, 4.9, $3,040; 4. Luke Branquinho, 5.2, $2,080; 5. Nick Guy, 5.6, $1,280.
Team roping: 1. Nick Sartain/Rich Skelton, 5.6 seconds, $5,440 each; 2. Coleman Proctor/Jake Long, 5.8, $4,160; 3. Clay Tryan/Jade Corkill, 6.5, $3,040; 4. Colby Lovell/Kory Koontz, 6.6, $2,080; 5. Trevor Brazile/Patrick Smith, 11.5, $1,280.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Jake Wright, 87.5 points on Harry Vold Rodeo Company's Happy Valley, $3,944; 2. Jesse Wright, 86, $3,016; 3. (tie) Jacobs Crawley, and Allen Boore, 84, $1,856 each; 5. (tie) Rusty Wright, and Taos Muncy, 83, $464 each.
Tie-down roping: 1. Marty Yates, 7.9 seconds, $5,440; 2. Tuf Cooper, 8.4, $4,160; 3. (tie) Trevor Brazile, and Hunter Herrin, 8.5, $2,560 each; 5. Cody Ohl, 9.3, $1,280.
Barrel racing: 1. Callie DuPerier, 17.10 seconds, $5,440; 2. Nancy Hunter, 17.32, $4,160; 3. Sherry Cervi, 17.60, $3,040; 4. Michele McLeod, 17.63, $2,080; 5. Britany Diaz, 17.77, $1,280.
Bull riding: 1. Cody Teel, 87.5 points on Mo Betta Rodeo's Slick Hills, $5,440; 2. Tim Bingham, 86.5, $4,160; 3. Sage Kimzey, 86, $3,040; 4. Parker Breding, 81.5, $2,080; 5. Joe Frost, 81, $1,280.
Total payoff: $123,600. Stock contractors: JK Rodeo, 4L & Diamond S Rodeo and Mo Betta Rodeo. Rodeo secretary: Barb Duggan. Officials: George Gibbs, Skip Emmett and Chuck Hoss. Timers: Shawna Ray and Linda Alsbaugh. Announcer: Boyd Polhamus. Specialty acts: John Harrison and Pyro Cowboys Myers. Bullfighters: Dustin Konig and Wacey Munsell. Flankmen: Glenn Southwick, Shawn Twitchell, The Hitman Adams and Scott Pickens. Chute bosses: Kirsten Vold and Art Alsbaugh. Pickup men: Josh Edwards and Chase Cervi. Photographers: Sean Halverson and Brian Gauck. Music director: Benje Bendele.
Read more about the Pueblo Wrangler Champions Challenge in the Sept. 25 ProRodeo Sports News.