With so much money on the line this weekend at Ellensburg, it’s no secret that virtually every top ranked cowboy and cowgirl make the trip to the Kittitas Valley.
However, this evening’s Cinch Shootout will not only host many of the PRCA and WPRA’s best athletes, but a handful of the Elite Rodeo Athlete’s competitors.
The Cinch Shootout is not affiliated with the PRCA, which means those full-time ERA athletes who cannot compete at the PRCA level can certainly compete within the Cinch Shootout circle.
What that means is all seven events tonight are chock full of talent.
“Cinch and Ellensburg are putting on a great performance,” four-time PRCA champion bareback rider Bobby Mote said earlier this week. Mote is a shareholder of the ERA, which means he cannot compete in PRCA rodeos, but with Cinch being a separate organization, and Ellensburg’s committee inviting Mote and others here, it’s easy for the cowboy to make the trip. “The committee was good enough to invite some of us ERA guys. You look at the bareback lineup and there are some pretty good guys. They called and asked if we would be willing to come. For that reason, that’s why I’m driving all night from Sheridan (Wyo.).”
On tap tonight is a contestant list that boast 36 world championships between them, all gunning for the $10,000 payday each event winner will earn.
In bareback riding, former world champions Kaycee Feild and Steven Peebles join four-time champ Mote. Last year’s winner Seth Hardwick is also on the list.
Seven-time world champion Fred Whitfield is part of a field that includes 2013 tie-down roper champ Shane Hanchey and local favorite Jake Pratt.
Three-time team roping champions Jade Corkill and Clay Tryan will take on the PRCA’s current leaders Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira and two more local roping duos: Riley and Brady Minor and Garrett Rogers and Jake Minor.
Simply put, if it’s the best competition fans are looking for, today’s Shootout is stacked.
The Cinch Shootout is a tour that highlights the best in a tour around the country. Ellensburg’s version tonight puts together seven competitors or teams in each event in a tournament style rodeo: One night, no average, and 10 grand to the winner. With that comes some potentially fast times in the timed events when athletes don’t have to worry about jockeying for position in an average and can instead go for broke.
“It’s easier for us to let our hair down and go at it,” Hanchey said on Thursday. “And it’s great for the crowd to see us do our best.”
Hanchey doesn’t worry about fans trying to figure out the differences between the Ellensburg Rodeo and the Cinch Shootout on the same weekend.
“It just comes down to what’s easy for the fans to understand,” he said. “Ellensburg is a rodeo-savvy town. They can switch gears and be real comfortable in understanding the Cinch Shootout. There’s room in rodeo for more formats like this.”
Every one of last year’s winners at Ellensburg’s inaugural Cinch Shootout are back. Also included this year is steer wrestling after not being included in the event in 2015. That means four-time world champion Luke Branquinho is here along with two-time champ Hunter Cure. K.C. Jones, who won the Ellensburg Rodeo in 2014 and 2015 is here as well.
The Cinch Shootout has a late afternoon start of 4 p.m.