Ryan Whetham is double winner in First Frontier Finals

PRCA Photo by Eva Schofield

 

          HARRISBURG, Pa. – Ryan Whetham didn’t rodeo until he was 15 years old, and now at the ripe old age of 20 he’s the steer wrestling average champion of the RAM First Frontier Circuit Finals Rodeo.

          And that’s not all. He’s also the circuit’s year-end champion.

          Quite an accomplishment for a cowboy who competed in ProRodeo for the first time in 2015 and is still on his permit.

          “I’m pretty excited about it,” Whetham said. “I wasn’t planning on winning, but it turned out great for me.”

          He won the three-head average with a time of 17.2 seconds, just two-tenths ahead of Gregory Bennett. Whetham, Bennett and A.J. Williams split the Round 3 win with 4.7 seconds each.

          Olin Ellsworth led the average after two rounds with a time of 10.5 seconds, and Whetham was in third place, two full seconds behind, even though he’d won Round 2 with a time of 4.0 seconds.

          “I was 8.5 in the first round, so I just decided to catch two more and stay in the average,” Whetham said. “It was exciting to win Round 2, but I still didn’t think I could win the average. I don’t get too riled up, so I wasn’t nervous.”

          That changed when he was announced as the average champ before the sellout crowd at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center.

          “When I took the victory lap after Round 2, it was fun but I just kind of did it,” he said. “When I came out for winning the average, I was really excited and I was whipping my hat around.”

          At that point, he didn’t realize he was also the year-end champion. He entered the three-day rodeo in third place in the year-end standings.

          “I didn’t think I’d win it, to be honest,” he said. “But they added so much money this year, anybody could win it.”

          He got a slow start in the circuit, as he completed a second year at Pratt (Kan.) Community College last spring, where he earned two associate degrees – one in Farrier Science and another in Ag Business.

          “At the beginning of the (2015) season, I was still in Kansas, so I didn’t get to go to many rodeos in our circuit,” he said. “When I came, I won money for six straight weeks and caught up some.”

          Whetham is from Woodstown, N.J., and said he grew up “just around the corner from Cowtown,” the PRCA's longest-running weekly rodeo series.

          “My sophomore year of high school, I started rodeoing,” he said. “Joe Bell lives around the corner and he helped me get started. Joe won our circuit a couple of times.”

          Bell actually won the RFFCFR average four times (2001, 2003-04, 2011) and also claimed four year-end championships (1997, 2000-01, 2009). His son, Joe Bell Jr., won the circuit’s average in 2000 and the year-end in 1999 and 2000. Bell Jr. reached the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in 2002-03 and finished seventh and 13th in the world standings.

          Bell Sr. usually hazes for Whetham and did a superb job in Harrisburg.

          “He’s a quiet guy, but he’s always supported me and gives me good advice,” Whetham said.

          Whetham, who is also a team roping heeler, said his two seasons on the Pratt Community College rodeo team were critical to his development.

          “It really helped my bulldogging a bunch,” he said. “Coach Ryan Vander Pluym really helped me with my technique and fundamentals.”

          Whetham said he plans to buy his PRCA rookie card “right away.”

          He’ll compete at the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo April 7-10 in Kissimmee, Fla.

          “I’m stoked for that,” he said. “That’s a pretty big deal, with a lot of money involved.”

          Other winners at the $174,674 rodeo were bareback rider Tim Kent (232 points on three head), team ropers Eric Fabian and Shawn Quinn (21.5 seconds on three head), saddle bronc rider Joe Phillips (132 points on two head), tie-down roper Ty Rumford (36.3 seconds on three head), barrel racer Jennifer Barrett (42.16 seconds on three runs) and bull rider Ronney Nobre (78 points on one head).


First Frontier Circuit Finals

 

Harrisburg, Pa., Jan. 14-16

 

All-around cowboy: Carmine Nastri, $9,319, tie-down roping and team roping.

 

Bareback riding: First round: 1. (tie) Kenny Feidler, on Cowtown Rodeo's Togenburg, and Tim Kent, on Painted Pony Championship Rodeo's George's Bad Cat, 81 points, $1,651 each; 3. Wacey Cody, 78, $943; 4. Coy Lutz, 70, $472. Second round: 1. Wacey Cody, 78 points on All American Rodeo Co's Matt Dillon, $1,887; 2. Andy Carter, 74, $1,415; 3. (tie) Kenny Feidler and Tim Kent, 73, $708 each. Third round: 1. Andy Carter, 81 points on Cowtown Rodeo's Togenburg, $1,887; 2. Tim Kent, 78, $1,415; 3. Coy Lutz, 77, $943; 4. Kenny Feidler, 75, $472. Average: 1. Tim Kent, 232 points on three head, $2,830; 2. Kenny Feidler, 229, $2,123; 3. Andy Carter, 224, $1,415; 4. Wacey Cody, 156 on two head, $708. 

 

Steer wrestling: First round: 1. Olin Ellsworth, 5.2 seconds, $1,962; 2. A.J. Williams, 5.5, $1,471; 3. Gregory Bennett, 5.7, $981; 4. Tyler Miller, 6.5, $490. Second round: 1. Ryan Whetham, 4.0 seconds, $1,962; 2. Chad Stoltzfus, 4.2, $1,471; 3. Joe Brown, 5.2, $981; 4. Olin Ellsworth, 5.3, $490. Third round: 1. (tie) Gregory Bennett, Ryan Whetham and A.J. Williams, 4.7 seconds, $1,471 each; 4. Chad Stoltzfus, 5.8, $490. Average: 1. Ryan Whetham, 17.2 seconds on three head, $2,943; 2. Gregory Bennett, 17.4, $2,207; 3. Chad Stoltzfus, 25.0, $1,471; 4. A.J. Williams, 10.2 on two head, $736. 

 

Team roping: First round: 1. Chuck Smith/Kenny Brown, 6.6 seconds, $1,962 each; 2. Carmine Nastri/Casey Cox, 6.8, $1,471; 3. Eric Fabian/Shawn Quinn, 7.4, $981; 4. Darren Morgan/Derek Carey, 7.9, $490. Second round: 1. Rob Toth/Tye Eglin, 4.9 seconds, $1,962 each; 2. Darren Morgan/Derek Carey, 5.5, $1,471; 3. Mervin Beachy/Justin Yost, 5.9, $981; 4. Eric Fabian/Shawn Quinn, 6.0, $490. Third round: 1. Jose Mota/Chris Soto, 4.8 seconds, $1,962 each; 2. Carmine Nastri/Casey Cox, 5.7, $1,471; 3. Mervin Beachy/Justin Yost, 6.0, $981; 4. (tie) Gary Dubois/Mike Charles and Ross Clatterbuck/J.R. Myers, 6.2, $245 each. Average: 1. Eric Fabian/Shawn Quinn, 21.5 seconds on three head, $2,943 each; 2. Keith Brown/Lewis Rimes Jr., 22.2, $2,207; 3. Mervin Beachy/Justin Yost, 23.6, $1,471; 4. Carmine Nastri/Casey Cox, 24.9, $736. 

 

Saddle bronc riding: First round: 1. (tie) Will Stites, on All American Rodeo Co's Captain Coy, and Joe Phillips, on Painted Pony Championship Rodeo's Trashy Trevor, 66 points, $1,634 each; no other qualified rides. Second round: 1. Matthew Bartsch, 59 points on All American Rodeo Co's Crazy Alice, $1,868; no other qualified rides. Third round: 1. Reginald Lecourt, 72 points on Painted Pony Championship Rodeo's Shasta, $1,868; 2. Joe Phillips, 66, $1,401; no other qualified rides. Average: 1. Joe Phillips, 132 points on two head, $2,802; 2. Reginald Lecourt, 72 on one head, $2,101; 3. Will Stites, 66, $1,401; 4. Matthew Bartsch, 59, $700. 

 

Tie-down roping: First round: 1. J.R. Myers, 9.9 seconds, $1,962; 2. Troy Roberto, 10.0, $1,471; 3. Matt McKinstry, 12.6, $981; 4. Ty Rumford, 13.0, $490. Second round: 1. Carmine Nastri, 11.0 seconds, $1,962; 2. J.R. Myers, 11.4, $1,471; 3. Charlie Goerlach, 12.0, $981; 4. Ty Rumford, 13.2, $490. Third round: 1. Ty Rumford, 10.1 seconds, $1,962; 2. Carmine Nastri, 10.4, $1,471; 3. Darren Morgan, 11.0, $981; 4. Lavern King, 13.0, $490. Average: 1. Ty Rumford, 36.3 seconds on three head, $2,943; 2. Carmine Nastri, 41.4, $2,207; 3. Darren Morgan, 49.1, $1,471; 4. Tim Naylor, 55.4, $736. 

 

Barrel racing: First round: 1. Nicole Yost, 13.99 seconds, $1,962; 2. Jennifer Barrett, 14.17, $1,471; 3. Jody Stockton, 14.23, $981; 4. Incarnata Tesiero, 14.26, $490. Second round: 1. Jennifer Barrett, 13.79 seconds, $1,962; 2. Jaime Fowler, 14.15, $1,471; 3. Nicole Yost, 14.25, $981; 4. Jen Bruno, 14.31, $490. Third round: 1. Nicole Yost, 14.12 seconds, $1,962; 2. Jaime Fowler, 14.13, $1,471; 3. (tie) Jen Bruno and Jennifer Oberg, 14.17, $736 each. Average: 1. Jennifer Barrett, 42.16 seconds on three head, $2,943; 2. Nicole Yost, 42.36, $2,207; 3. Jaime Fowler, 42.68, $1,471; 4. Jennifer Oberg, 42.87, $736. 

 

Bull riding: First round: 1. Hunter Scheerbaum, 70 points on Painted Pony Championship Rodeo's George's Car Dolly, $1,962; no other qualified rides. Second round: 1. Tommy Lanzalotti, 67 points on Cowtown Rodeo's Titanic, $1,962; no other qualified rides. Third round: 1. Ronney Nobre, 78 points on Cowtown Rodeo's Stormin Norman, $1,962; 2. Kade Kressman, 65, $1,471; no other qualified rides. Average: 1. Ronney Nobre, 78 points on one head, $2,943; 2. Hunter Scheerbaum, 70, $2,207; 3. Tommy Lanzalotti, 67, $1,471; 4. Kade Kressman, 65, $736. 

 

Total payoff: $174,674. Stock contractors: Cowtown Rodeo and Painted Pony Championship Rodeo. Officials: Wayde Ellsworth, George Gibbs and Roger Walter. Timer: Katy Harris. Specialty act: Keith Isley. Clown/barrelman: Keith Isley. Chute boss: Mark DeSiato. Pickup men: Donald Godfrey and Rob Wright. Photographer: Casey Martin.

Read more about the RAM First Frontier Circuit Finals Rodeo in the Jan. 29 ProRodeo Sports News.