Published on: November 11, 2015 | Last Updated: November 11, 2015 11:22 PM MS
One record broken and another burned on the edges: Wednesday was quite the opening performance for this week’s Canadian Finals Rodeo at Rexall Place.
Idaho’s Matt Shiozawa was the record-setter, taking just seven seconds flat to wrap up his calf in the tie-down roping event.
“Things came together pretty fast,” understated Shiozawa, the defending champion.
“I didn’t think it was going to be that good because I ran him down the arena a little ways.”
The previous record was 7.1 seconds set by both Tyson Durfey and Murray Pole in 2009.
“There are a lot of variables that go into it. My horse worked well and I probably had one of the better calves in the pen,” said Shiozawa, whose personal best time is a rather remarkable 6.5 seconds at the Calgary Stampede in 2010.
“I was actually a little nervous because I knew I had the calf and if I did my job, the rest would take care of itself.
“On opening night you want to be smart. You want to be aggressive but you don’t want to back off either.”
The record that almost broke was Morgan Grant’s 3.4-second run in steer wrestling.
“I got a great start. I had a great steer. And I got a really good head catch,” said Grant, whose time was just three-fifths of a second off of the CFR record of 3.1 seconds established by Travis Frank back in 2006.
While not by design, Grant also had a great horse.
“My horse (Bumps) came up sore so I had to give him the day off,” said Grant, originally from Ontario but now residing in Didsbury.
Horse No. 2 wasn’t a bad alternative, given that its name is Tank and, owned by Dustin Walker, who also competed in the steer wrestling, is the reigning steer wrestling horse of the year.
Grant said he will have to play it by ear but “right now the plan is to stay with Tank.”
Coming into the CFR clutching the 12th and final spot in the steer wrestling event, Grant’s run showed just how quickly the overall standings can change at the CFR.
Winning $12,000 Wednesday, Grant moved to just $5,179 of the overall leader, Scott Guenther, who stopped his steer in 4.7 seconds but then had a 10-second penalty added for breaking the barrier.
It was a bad night for all of the steer wrestling leaders.
Like Guenther, Tanner Milan, who came into the CFR in second place, also broke the barrier while Cody Cassidy, third in the standings, had no time.
Meanwhile, everything seems to buck for Caleb Bennett.
After winning the bareback with a score of 85 1/4 points on Kesler’s veteran Starburst, even the saddle horse Bennett took out for his victory lap bucked.
“The victory lap horse made me more sore than the actual riding horse,” laughed Utah’s Bennett, who said he’d never had that happen before. “It was either get bucked off one-handed or two-handed.”
Needless to say, Bennett never hit the dirt either time.
Bennett said he was more than glad to see that he had drawn Starburst.
“She’s always a great one to have. She’s always electric; always showy. She’s one of those horses a guy wants to draw.”
Bennett and Starburst have tangoed together several times in the past. Two years ago, in his first appearance at the CFR, Bennett and Starburst teamed up for a second-place finish. Then Bennett drew her at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas and was second again.
Last year Bennett just missed out on qualifying for the CFR and he said it did a slow burn with him.
“It was kind of a bummer. I got beat out at the final rodeo of the year. So I really wanted to get back here. I love this rodeo. Love the atmosphere. Love the people,” said Bennett, who turned 27 this past Tuesday.
“Nice birthday present.”
Bareback Riding – Caleb Bennett, Tremonton, Utah 85 1/4 points
Steer Wrestling – Morgan Grant, Didsbury, AB 3.4 seconds
Team Roping – Levi Simpson, Ponoka, AB, and Jeremy Buhler, Arrowwood AB 4.9 seconds
Saddle Bronc Riding – Cody DeMss, Heflin, Louisiana, 85 points
Tie-down Roping – Matt Shiozawa, Chubbuck Idaho, 7.0 seconds
Barrel Racing – Julie Leggett, Kamloops, B.C. 14.817 seconds
Bull Riding – Jared Parsonage, Maple Creek, Sask. 86 1/2 points