Boyd Polhamus, Voice of the San Angelo Stock Show & Rodeo. (Photo: Patrick Dove)
WINDMILL COUNTRY: Polhamus is a master in the arena
Jerry Lackey, Special to the Standard-Times1:03 a.m. CT Feb. 11, 2017
SAN ANGELO — World champion cowboys and cowgirls form the centerpiece of 12 rodeo performances at the 85th San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo, but equally entertaining to this old retired broadcaster is Boyd Polhamus, the official announcer.
I have watched in awe at so many rodeos since Polhamus came here. Not only am I amazed, but also fascinated by the way he does his job. From bull riders and steer wrestlers to ropers and barrel racers, he knows every contestant personally, delivering his commentary behind the microphone and aboard his horse in the San Angelo arena.
Although he recalls the contestant’s resume and previous winnings as he rides the arena, dodging broncs and wild bulls, Boyd’s remarks appear off-the-cuff. However, he spends three or four hours before each rodeo performance researching contestants and livestock. In turn, he takes the program and adds notes on various cowboys and cowgirls with a highlighter pen.
“Those things are new and fresh. It’s like a test. I have to cram my mind full of that stuff,” he told the Standard-Times in 2010.
Polhamus is one of the first people to arrive at the arena before every performance. From that point on, it’s all business. Long before the first chute opens, he has played out the rodeo performance in his head. He has worked out mentally how to transition from event to event with the smooth grace of a maestro moving from one orchestra section to another.
A musical prelude and flashing lights signal the rodeo’s start, and Polhamus enters the arena with a microphone in one hand and reins in the other. He delivers the opening prayer, speaking from his soul, not a script.
Polhamus was the first three-time All-Around Champion Cowboy on the high school level in his native state of Wisconsin. It earned him a scholarship to compete on the college level in Texas.
Polhamus was 19 when he announced his first college rodeo in Uvalde and immediately found his calling. “God’s fingerprints are all over everything that’s happened in my life,” he said.
“It was clear that God gave me a lot more talent with a mic than he did with a rope, so it was an easy decision to go with the announcing,” he said.
His career has put him behind the microphone at the biggest rodeo events in the world, including 21 times as the announcer for the National Finals Rodeo. He was selected five additional times as the alternate, putting him on the announcer podium in Las Vegas 26 of the past 27 years.
Polhamus was born Nov. 1, 1965. He married Sandee Glosson on Nov. 27, 1992. She travels with him as much as she can while taking care of their Band-Aid Ranch at Brenham.
“My schedule includes about 40 venues a year and close to 170 performances, so I’m busy,” Boyd said. He added that with travel, he’s on the road 260 to 280 days a year.
After graduating from college, Polhamus had an Isuzu pickup with a motorcycle trailer and a camping tent in the trailer. “I’d go to the rodeo grounds, set up the tent and use the public showers,” he said.
These days he travels with a 44-foot Bloomer trailer that includes two air conditioners and satellite television. “Wouldn’t trade that tent for anything, but don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to go back to it.”
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association has named Polhamus the Announcer of the Year four times — in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2012. He was also given the Lane Frost Memorial Award in 2009 during the Fort Worth Livestock Show and Rodeo.
The Saturday matinee rodeo performance starts at 1 p.m. and the evening performance starts at 7:30 in the Foster Communications Coliseum.
Jerry Lackey is the agriculture editor emeritus. Contact him at email@example.com.
Canadian Horses Bring NFR-Level Bareback Rides to the San Angelo Rodeo
y Joe Hyde | Feb. 11, 2017 12:35 am
SAN ANGELO, TX — Many of the horses used tonight for were raised way up north in Alberta, Canada. “In Canada, the rodeo arenas are huge,” explained Tom Thompson.
Canadian horses in a smaller arena made for excellent theatrics during the bareback competition of the fifth performance at the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo Friday night.
“These broncs are athletes,” said Rory Lemmel. “One day even Michael Jordan will score 63 points and the next day, 20.” Lemmel is the horse whisperer for this year’s rodeo. They are in his charge. Tonight for the bareback riding cowboys, the broncs were giving all something to watch.
“The barebacks tonight were as good as any round of the national finals,” Lemmel said. And the scores proved it, where two cowboys Friday night tied Sunday’s leader.
Now three are tied at the top of the bareback competition at 86 points apiece.
One of tonight’s 86-pointers, Bareback rider Ty Breuer hasn’t ventured too far from his home near Mandan, N.D., very often in February.
“I usually don’t rodeo in the winter as much because we start calving back home,” said Breuer, a two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier. “We started calving a little bit later this year so I could go to some of these.”
His 86-point ride was accomplished by matching moves with C5 Rodeo’s White Water.
Watch Ty Breuer ride:
His score was equaled Friday by Tyler Nelson of Victor, Idaho, who spurred C5’s Night Life in the ride immediately following Breuer’s.
After Nelson’s ride, announcer Boyd Polhamus remarked, “Folks, that’s back-to-back bareback rides that are NFR quality.”
Until tonight, the leader, also with 86 points, was Devan Reilly of Sheridan, Wyoming. He took the top spot Sunday on Touch of Class from the Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo firm.
Watch Tyler Nelson's ride Friday night:
Now the trio sits atop a strong leaderboard in anticipation to the championship round, which takes place Friday, Feb. 17, and will feature the top 12 contestants in each event from the preliminary rounds. Breuer has been in the San Angelo short round before; Nelson hasn’t.
“I haven’t really done that well here before,” said Nelson, who is 15th in the world standings “It’s always good to get a good start to the season. It gives you momentum through the year. I’ve drawn pretty well so far this year.
He did. In fact, the lion’s share of his 2017 earnings came recently in Fort Worth, Texas, where he placed in three of four go-rounds, finished fourth in the average and pocketed more than $5,200. He stands a good chance to catch some west Texas cash, thanks in part to his dancing partner Friday night inside Foster Communications Coliseum.
“I really had no idea what the horse was, but she was really good and a lot of fun,” Nelson said of Night Life. “She gave me a lot of time to expose myself. She’s a good example of a horse that doesn’t travel very far but gets up in the air. She lets you show off a little bit.”
While Nelson knew little about his mount, Breuer has had success on White Water.
“I’ve seen it a couple of times, and last year I got on him in Ponoka (Alberta) and was 86 points on him there,” Breuer said. “It’s always good to do well, especially in San Angelo.
“I started out the season pretty good, but I haven’t been going to many rodeos. I had some luck in Rapid City (S.D.) and a little luck in Denver.”
In fact, the North Dakota cowboy won the Rapid City title and earned $5,584 in the process. He sits seventh on the money list with $15,786, and he’ll need every dime. He’ll have to take time away from the rodeo trail as he handles the family’s cattle business back home.
Of course, he’s riding a wave of momentum that carried him to the NFR for the second time this past December. He’d like to return again and, hopefully, make it a regular destination.
“The NFR really helps and really drives a guy to get better,” Breuer said. “I didn’t really do what I wanted to there, so you just have to keep working at it.”
Breuer added more than $43,000 in Las Vegas money by placing in four go-rounds. That’s a solid wage for 10 days of work, but it still left a bad taste in the cowboy’s mouth.
Nelson, though, would just like to get the feeling of what it means to compete at ProRodeo’s grand finale. He has finished among the top 30 in the world standings each of the past two seasons and has hopes that 2017 is his breakthrough season.
“I’m definitely going to reach for it this year,” he said. “I just need to stay healthy and draw good, and that can help you get to the top 15 to get to Vegas.
“My confidence is as good as it’s ever been. I’m also enjoying it, which helps a bunch, too.”
It certainly showed Friday night.
Ted Harbin contributed to this report.
Leaderboard for the San Angelo Rodeo, post 5th performance on Feb. 10, 2017:
Bareback riding leaders: 1. (tie) Devan Reilly, on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Touch of Class, Tyler Nelson, on C5 Rodeo’s Night Life, and Ty Breuer, on C5 Rodeo’s White Water, 86 points each; 4. Kelly Timberman, 85; 5. (tie) Jamie Howlett and Casey Breuer, 80 each; 7. (tie) Justin McDaniel, Joel Schlegel, Luke Creasy and Jordan Petlon, 79 each.
Steer wrestling: First round leaders: 1. (tie) Tyler Waguespack and Dakota Eldridge, 3.3 seconds each; 3. (tie) Ty Erickson, Blake Knowles, Luke Branquinho and Justen Notes, 3.5 each; 7. Stephen Culling, 3.6; 8. Baylor Roche, 3.7. Second round leaders: 1. David Hinman, 3.3 seconds; 2. (tie) Baylor Roche, Dirk Tavenner and Josh Peek, 3.5 each; 5. (tie) Timmy Sparring, Clayton Hass, Nick Guy Todd Suhn and Rowdy Thomas, 3.6 each. Average leaders: 1. Tyler Waguespack, 7.0 seconds on two runs; 2. Baylor Roche, 7.2; 3. Todd Suhn, 7.4; 4. (tie) Josh Peek and Blake Knowles, 7.7 each; 6. (tie) Kyle Whitaker and Cooper Shofner, 7.9 each; 8. (tie) Nick Guy, Dakota Eldridge, David Hinman and Dakota Champion, 8.0 each; 12. (tie) Dirk Tavenner and Ty Erickson, 8.1 each.
Team roping: First round leaders: 1. Erich Rogers/Cory Petska, 3.8 seconds; 2. Bart Brunson/Trace Porter, 4.2; 3. Chad Masters/Travis Graves, 4.3; 4. (tie) Dustin Egusquiza/Kory Koontz and Charly Crawford/Joseph Harrison, 4.5 each; 6. (tie) Shawn Besette/Sid Sporer, Tate Kirchenschlager/Trevor Kirchenschlager and Cole Markham/Nick Simmons, 4.6. Second round leaders: 1. Derrick Begay/Clay O’Brien Cooper, 3.9 seconds; 2. (tie) Caleb Smidt/B.J. Dugger and Matt Sherwood/Joel Bach, 4.1 each; 3. 4. Brett Stuart/Wesley Moss, 4.2; 5. Trevor Brazile/Patrick Smith, 4.4; 6. (tie) Zac Small/Will Woodfin and Travis Tryan/Chase Tryan, 4.5; 8. Jr. Dees/Matt Zancanella, 4.6. Average leaders: 1. Tate Kirchenschlager/Trevor Kirchenschlager, 9.8 seconds on two runs; 2. Chase Massengill/Kory Bramwell, 10.1; 3. Clayton Van Aken/Shawn Darnall, 10.3; 4. Seth Hall/Byron Wilkerson, 10.6; 5. Dustin Egusquiza/Kory Koontz, 13.3; 6. Caleb Smidt/B.J. Dugger, 13.4; 7. Travis Tryan/Chase Tryan, 13.9; 8. Charly Crawford/Joseph Harrison, 14.5.
Saddle bronc riding leaders: 1. Ryder Wright, 81 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Pendleton Whisky Django; 2. (tie) Magin Lane Montoya and Dalton Davis, 80 each; 4. (tie) Jacobs Crawley and Chuck Schmidt, 78; 6. (tie) Colt Gordon and Charlie Kogianes, 76 each; 8. Rusty Wright, 75.5.
Tie-down roping: First round leaders: 1. (tie) Michael Otero and Tuf Cooper, 7.0 seconds each; 3. Darnell Johnson, 7.5; 4. (tie) Marty Yates, Catfish Brown and Tyler Milligan, 7.6 each; 7. Clint Singleton, 7.7; 8. Cody Quaney, 7.8. Second round leaders: 1. Cody Quaney, 7.0 seconds; 2. Justin Smith, 7.1; 3. (tie) Scott Kormos and Tim Pharr, 7.3 each; 5. (tie) J.C. Malone and Lane Livingston, 7.4 each; 7. (tie) Blane Cox, Seth Cooke and Trinton Downing, 7.5 each. Average leaders: 1. Cody Quaney, 14.8 seconds on two runs; 2. Tuf Cooper, 15.0; 3. Clint Singleton, 15.8; 4. Cooper Martin, 16.1; 5. (tie) Clint Robinson and Cimarron Boardman, 16.2 each; 7. Catfish Brown, 16.3; 8. (tie) Josh Peek and E.J. Robertrs, 17.0 each; 10. (tie) Shank Edwards Kody Mahaffey, 17.1 each; 12. Will Howell, 17.6.
Barrel racing: Second round leaders: 1. Cassie Mowry, 14.20 seconds; 2. Laura Kennedy, 14.24; 3. Lindsay Sears, 14.24; 4. Jennifer Arnold, 14.35; 5. (tie) Cassidy Kruse and Carmel Wright, 14.39 each; 7. Shelby McCauley, 14.40; 8. Brooke Jeter, 14.42; 9. Morgan Breaux, 14.43; 10. Rainy Robinson, 14.44. Average leaders: 1. Kassie Mowry, 30.15 seconds on two runs; 2. Carmel Wright, 30.23; 3. Morgan Breaux, 30.44; 4. Shelby McCauley, 30.53; 5. (tie) Jennifer Arnold and Rainy Robinson, 30.74 each; 7. Cassidy Kruse, 30.78; 8. Laura Kennedy, 30.80; 9. Lindsay Sears, 30.83; 10. Amy Jo Farella, 30.84; 11. Fallon Jordan, 30.95; 12. Deb Guelly, 30.99.
Bull riding leaders: 1. Trey Benton III, 88.5 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Red Rocket; 2. Brennon Eldred, 87.5; 3. Jordan Hansen, 85; 4. (tie) Kyle Balls and Jordan Wacey Spears, 84 each; 6. Brock Radford, 83.5; 7. (tie) Tanner Learmont and John Pitts, 83 each.
Today's rodeo competitors are top-notch athletes
As you watch this weekend's performances of the San Angelo Rodeo, keep in mind that you're seeing some of the world's most fit athletes as they ride, rope or wrestle the livestock.
Over the past decade, I've written about long-distance cyclists and runners, triathletes, fitness trainers, Spartan Race competitors, military combat veterans, and scores of other topics related to athletes with exceptional levels of fitness.
In every case, the factors separating the top athletes from the rest of the field were raw talent, a strong desire to win, hundreds of hours spent developing sport-specific skills and an extraordinarily high level of fitness.
Professional rodeo athletes belong at the top of that list of exceptionally fit athletes.
Today's top professional rodeo cowboys and cowgirls are talented individuals who spend an inordinate amount of time practicing their sport and preparing mentally and physically for the events they compete in.
For these professional athletes, a high level of physical fitness is an absolute necessity both to help them compete at the highest level and to help avoid or minimize injuries.
Steven Bent, a top pro bareback and saddle bronc competitor from Mullen, Nebraska and seven-time qualifier for the National Finals Rodeo, says that you can't be competitive in pro rodeo events without maintaining a high level of physical fitness.
"The days of just showing up and riding based on talent are over," says Bent. "There are too many good athletes riding bucking horses these days to think that you can get by without physical fitness.
"You have to put in that extra (workout) time even when no one is watching if you want to compete with the best in the world of rodeo."
Bent was an extremely successful high school athlete before becoming a professional rodeo cowboy, having participated in high school football, wrestling, track and field and rodeo. During that period, he was a running back on a state champion football team (gaining a state-leading 2,488 rushing yards) and a state wrestling champion.
To stay fit and be competitive as a professional rodeo athlete, he continues to do the same types of hard workouts he did as a multi-sport high school champion.
"My fitness level is very comparable to when I wrestled," Bent said. "In fact, I train with other wrestlers all winter - it's a good sport to help improve riding because it challenges your mental toughness, strength, balance and quickness."
"During the winter I wrestle for two hours a day on weekdays, and on the days I miss wrestling I have a lifting routine that I do. I also do abs daily with a lot of planks - a strong core is one of the most important things related to successfully riding bucking horses."
Rick Foster, the director of the Justin Sports Medicine program that provides medical support services to professional rodeo athletes at events all across country, reinforces both the necessity for rodeo athletes to maintain a high level of fitness and the amount of effort that these athletes put into developing and maintaining fitness.
"Having a high level of fitness helps reduce the chance of incurring serious injuries", explains Foster. "When injuries do occur, the superior fitness level will help the athlete rehab at a faster rate.
"Rodeo athletes put in the time and effort needed to train their bodies to have both a high degree of functional strength and a high level of aerobic fitness. Although they may only be doing an 8-second ride on a bucking horse or a bull, their heart rates will be significantly elevated for an extended period before, during and after the ride. Aerobic conditioning, strength, flexibility and balance/coordination are all important aspects of their physical fitness."
Ride On, San Angelo, and remember - today's rodeo athletes maintain an extremely high level of fitness.
Bill Cullins is an old cyclist, slow runner and former state Masters cyclocross champion. His column appears every Saturday. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.