Last rides earn top prizes: Beef Empire Days Rodeo draws to a close


Last rides earn top prizes

Last rides earn top prizes


Winners in three divisions weren't determined until the final night of the 2013 Beef Empire Days PRCA Rodeo at the Finney County Fairgrounds Arena.

It wasn't until Saturday's final night performance that Jake Cooper of Monument, N.M., in Tie Down Roping, Brock Hanson of Casa Grande, Ariz., and Kory Koontz of Sudan, Texas, in Team Roping, and Sarah Kieckhefer of Prescott, Ariz., in Women's Barrel Racing came up with first-place efforts in their respective events.

For Cooper, his 8.5 second run in the Tie Down was good enough for a full second victory over Trent Walls of Stephenville, Texas.

For the lifetime performer, whose father also was a world champion, the victory was the latest in a series of strong showings.

"I knew I had a good calf drawn," said Cooper, who had one of his friends tell him he was familiar with the calf. "He said he was a little slow coming out which gave me time to settle in and take my time, and then get to him faster."

Cooper, who said his season had been fairly average until just a few weeks ago, said he likes the Garden City event.

"Up until the last three weeks, the tie down had been pretty slow," Cooper said. "Sometimes I don't have a lot of time between events (he also competed in team roping), so it was nice to have a friend here tonight to help get my second horse ready."

Cooper had been the PRCA's rookie of the year in 2004 and made the National Finals Rodeo in team roping in 2007.

"Confidence is a big part of the sport, so winning tonight against a really great group of ropers is really good," Cooper said.

For Pueblo, Colo., native and former Garden City Community College standout Casey Colletti, a chance to return to Garden City was an opportunity too good to pass up.

Especially when he had planned on flying to Canada on Saturday for another event, except when he went to purchase the ticket, it was nearly $1,000. He opted to drive the few hours over from his parent's home in Pueblo and he fashioned a ride of 82 points on a re-ride of TJ's Problem. That was good enough for a tie for third place, earning him a check for $872.48.

"It feels like home when I come here," said Colletti, now a two-time NFR contestant. "When you have the Korkow horses, you know you're gonna get a good horse to ride. Everybody's got a chance to win when you've got quality horses."

A primary reason for returning is the chance to renew his friendship with GCCC rodeo coach Jim Boy Hash.

"He's been like a second father to me," Colletti said of Hash. "He was awesome when I came here, and not too many schools were recruiting me, but he gave me a chance. We had a great time while I was here, so it's always nice to come back and see him and others."

Colletti, like so many cowboys on the professional circuit, Garden City was one of several potential stops this week. But the former Broncbuster also was going to take advantage of being in his home area and was planning to spend Sunday off with his own father in Colorado. He had competed in nearly 100 rodeos in 2012 and still has goals of returning to the NFR and competing well in the Circuit finals. At age 27, he shows no signs of slowing down.

"I'm doing what I love to do and there's no better feeling," Colletti said. "I'm just glad I had a chance to ride, and that I was fortunate to get a good ride."

Ty Breuer and Casey Breuer of Mandan, N.D., maintained their lead in the Bareback Riding with 83 points, earning $1,651.48 each.

Louie Brunson of Interior, S.D., captured the Saddle Bronc Riding with a score of 85 and was paid $2,168.85 for his victory.

In the Bull Riding event, Matt Pojanowski's score of 86 held up through the final night of two sections in which only three of the 18 Korkow bulls were ridden. Cody Sierks' 81 moved him into the fifth place spot. Pojanowski rode Magnum Force to a payout of $2,647.65. The Korkow's premier bull, Bad Habit, maintained his unridden status through 60 outs, with neither rider able to stay atop a bull that is being considered for PRCA Bull of the Year honors.

Justin Smith of Castle, Okla., and Seth Brockman of Wheatland, Wyo., shared top honors in Steer Wrestling at 4.2 seconds, each earning $2,308.02.

Hanson and Koontz established the top mark in the Team Roping with a speedy 4.3 second mark, pushing Chase Wiley of Charlotte, Texas, and Ace Pearce of Washington, Texas, into second place. The payout was $3,140.70 to each rider.

Kieckhefer came up with a stellar run in the Barrel Racing with a time of 17.19 seconds, eclipsing the previous lead time of 17.26 compiled by Taylor Jacob on Thursday night's opening session. Jacob shared second place with Carol Chesher of Stratford, Texas, who also clocked 17.26 on Saturday. Kieckhefer earned $2,481.40 for her win.

Jessica Miller of Madison and Kashlee Schweer of Garden City held onto the top two positions in the Ladies Breakway Roping with times of 2.7 and 2.9 seconds. Miller earned $522 for her win.

Cooper also earned the All-Around Cowboy title for the BED event with a total of $2,337.95. A total of $93,314.00 was paid out.

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