Nick Guy, of Sparta, Wisconsin, flips a steer to the ground while competing in steer wrestling during the Elite Rodeo Athletes Premier Tour stop Saturday night at the Bank of the Cascades Center at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center in Redmond. Photo by AndyTullis/The Bulletin
REDMOND — As hundreds of fans milled around them on the arena floor at the Bank of the Cascades Center on Saturday night, two girls threw their arms around each other and beamed as they posed for a photo.
Both girls wore Western shirts and cowgirl hats perched on their blond hair. And if not for Chayni Chamberlain’s gold belt buckle it would have been hard to tell which one was the champion barrel racer, just a few hours from competing in front of a near-capacity crowd on the second night of the Elite Rodeo Athletes Premier Tour stop in Redmond, and which was a young fan who would be cheering from the stands.
“It’s something I enjoy doing — I feel very excited to get the chance to do something like this,” said Chamberlain, a 10-year-old out of Stephenville, Texas, as she signed hats and posters for kids her own age.
“It’s a big difference with all the people, but I really love getting the chance.”
Chamberlain, who is by far the youngest competitor on the new ERA professional rodeo circuit, began competing at age 7, and she found success almost immediately.
“I just had so much experience with horses — I grew up around horses,” Chamberlain said matter-of-factly before complimenting her horse (who is five years older than her). “Flo Jo — he’s just a horse anybody would ask for. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Chamberlain finished fifth Saturday with a time of 14.41 seconds, just 0.35 seconds slower than winner Taylor Jacob, of Carmine, Texas.
Chamberlain — who is also a gymnast (“It’s what keeps me healthy,” she explained) — said she had never participated in an event with the same crowd or atmosphere as Friday and Saturday night’s in Redmond. And Culver’s Bobby Mote, who has won four world championships as a bareback rider and was one of the guiding forces in the creation of the ERA, said he had not encountered anything quite like it, either.
“It’s really rewarding — I’m more proud of that than most of my accomplishments, I mean honestly, because we worked so hard to get to this point,” said Mote, 39. “This is what I think is so awesome: An hour and a half before the rodeo, people are lining up to meet (the cowboys and cowgirls). That’s awesome. I haven’t been to very many rodeos — or any, for that matter — where people would line up an hour and a half before to meet people and be a part of it.”
Prineville’s Charly Crawford, who was fifth in team roping with his partner, Kollin VonAhn, of Sac City, Iowa, said he was happy to spend time interacting with the fans.
“I love it — the fans are what’s important, because without the fans (the ERA) is not going to succeed,” Crawford said. “It’s fairly similar to the NFR (National Finals Rodeo, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s championship). It’s set up so that it’s fast, high energy. I’ve roped here in the (Columbia River) Circuit Finals, but I’ve never seen this many people here before.”
Two Texans — Monty Lewis, of Hereford, and Cody Ohl, of Hico — tied for first in tie-down roping, both with a time of 7.62 seconds.
Zack Oakes, of Tolar, Texas, won the bull riding with 87 points, while Kyle Irwin, of Robertsdale, Alabama, took first in a field of 11 steer wrestlers with a time of 4.25 seconds.
Kaleb Driggers, from Albany, Georgia, and Junior Nogueira, a native of Brazil who now resides in Scottsdale, Arizona, took the team roping title in 4.04 seconds. Wade Sundell, of Boxholm, Iowa, claimed first in saddle bronc riding with 88.5 points.
Will Lowe of Canyon, Texas, won the bareback riding, the final event of the night, with 86.5 points.
With an overall payout of $100,000, the winner of each event earned $3,625 and 275 points toward the overall ERA standings. All competitors who record a time or qualified ride earn points for their performance, even if they finish out of the money.
— Reporter: 541-383-0305, firstname.lastname@example.org .