Bulls take opening night of rodeo

By Grant Guggisberg

One rider, one chance.

Dodge City’s Jesse Barber was the lone entrant in bull riding in Thursday’s Kaw Valley Rodeo opener at Wells Arena in CiCo Park, and for seven seconds, it looked like his trip up from southwest Kansas would be well worth it.

Barber held on for most of the required time, but couldn’t hang on as his ride atop Newbie came to an abrupt end. As the only non-exhibition bull rider on the night, Barber went first, which he said doesn’t bother him a bit.

“Actually I like to go first, just to get it out of the way,” he said.

While coming close to a score and walking away empty handed isn’t a great feeling, Barber said he prefers that to the alternative.

“I’d rather be close than nothing at all,” he said. “Over here, he had me at seven, but he wasn’t the official timer. I came out and started spinning to the right and stayed with him a little bit.

“But I quit a little bit at the end and got bucked off.”

In other events Thursday night, the cowboys had more success.

In the saddle bronc, Ryan Bestol from Hyannis, Neb., scored an 81 atop Sand Creek to finish with the top score, with Casey McGooden (Doniphan, Neb.) scoring a 76 on Little Eva to finish second.

In a competitive steer wrestling event, J.D. Hill (Eskridge) and Ryan Swayze (Freedom, Okla.) tied for the top time in 4.4 seconds, with Lance Volker (Alva, Okla.) behind in 5.2 with six of nine cowboys posting times.

In tie-down roping, Ben Madsen (Anadarko, Okla.) posted the best time in 11.3 seconds, with Jeff Miller (Blue Mound) posting a 12.3 and Bill Huber (Albia, Iowa) a 13 flat.

The team of Jake McCullough (Conway Springs) and Troy Gaston (Hutchinson) had the best team roping time in 6.5 seconds, with Troy Boone (Mutual, Okla.) and Dawson McMaster (Madison) right behind in 6.8 seconds.

In barrel racing, the top time went to Kyra Stierwalt (Leedey, Okla.), who finished in 17.71 seconds. Nicoletta Marchesi (Weatherford, Texas) was second with an 18.38.

Tonight’s performance begins at 8 p.m. with Saturday’s finale also slated to begin at 8.

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