RAPID CITY, S.D. It had always been a dream of all-around cowboy Garrett Nokes (McCook, Neb.) to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. In 2005, Nokes fulfilled that dream competing in steer wrestling. His goals for 2006 are to return to Las Vegas to not only try and win a world title in the steer wrestling, but possibly be a contender for the all-around title.
Nokes, 30, picked up the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour and average titles in the steer wrestling at the Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo over the weekend in Rapid City, S.D. He also claimed the rodeo's all-around title.
Nokes rode Chad Van Campen's horse, Caesar, to the winner's circle after posting a blistering 4.1-second run on the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. scoreboard Sunday afternoon. The run was quick enough to put him atop the leaderboard in the average with a total time of 13.4 seconds on three head.
"I drew two really good steers," said Nokes, after the victory. "I kind of messed the first one up and ended up second in the round with a 3.8. My second one ran really hard and wasn't quite as good of a steer but I felt like I made a good run on him. Today I had one of the two best steers in the pen, so I just wanted to make sure I got out (of the box clean) and threw him down as fast as I could. Honestly, I feel like I should have been a little quicker on him but it was quick enough."
Nokes gives credit to Van Campen's horse, Caesar, for his recent success.
"I owe all my checks this past year to that horse," said Nokes of Caesar. "I was on the verge of maybe even retiring from the sport at the beginning of last year, but then after getting on Caesar for the first time in Denver last year and winning second, and then coming here to Rapid City and taking second, I changed my mind. Now to come back this year and ride him to victory is great, and he is the reason for my success. He won 1-2-3 here this year, and there is a reason for that. He is the best horse here in this little arena and he works great in any situation. He is 19-years old and I just hope he keeps working for quite a while."
Caesar was ridden to a 1-2-3 finish in the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour round. Besides Nokes, Dane Hanna (Denver, Colo.) rode him for a second-place finish with a time of 5.0-seconds and owner, Van Campen (Granada, Colo.) finished in a tie for third with a time of 5.3 seconds.
Nokes picked up his first all-around title of the 2006 season after winning $4,848 in steer wrestling and tie-down roping.
The Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo marked the third stop on the 2006 Wrangler ProRodeo Winter Tour. Contestants not only compete for money at the Tour rodeos, but for valuable Tour points that qualify them for the Pace Picante ProRodeo Chute-out upon the conclusion of the Winter Tour.
The Pace Chute-out will be held May 13-14 in Tulsa, Okla. All 12 stops on the Winter Tour will be televised on Fox Sports Network for the first time in history. Check local listings for times in your area.
Tie-down roper Mike Johnson also picked up a big win in Rapid City winning the average with a time of 27.6 seconds on three head. Johnson (Henryetta, Okla.) competed at his 20th Wrangler NFR in 2005 and looks to return again this year. After pulling his groin at the Wrangler NFR, Johnson has been meticulous about his health and trying not to come back to soon. Rapid City was a good test for him.
"I hadn't been up here for a few years and since I missed Odessa (Texas) with my groin injury, I figured this would be a good test," Johnson said. "I felt like I had been practicing good and I wanted to get started at some of these rodeos that were indoors and a little smaller before I started going full blast down the arena at a rodeo like Red Bluff (Calif.) or Guymon (Okla.). This is a great rodeo. I have always enjoyed coming up here and now I am glad I did."
Winning the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour round in the tie-down roping was Scott Kormos (Teague, Texas), who stopped the clock in 8.2 seconds. Kormos picked up 12 Tour points for the win and finished second in the average with a time of 28.4 seconds, picking up and additional seven Tour points.
South Dakota bareback rider Tigh Anderberg didn't know much about the young horse Metal Round out of the Kesler Rodeo string but knew if it was a Kesler horse that it would buck and would give him a chance to win. Anderberg (Mobridge) not only spurred the horse to the Tour round win but to the average win as well. He scored 88 points to lead the field and finished with 172 points on two head.
"I didn't know that horse at all," Anderberg said. "It was a colt of Kesler's, so I figured it would be pretty good. Anytime you draw a Kesler horse you know it is going to buck, so I was pretty fortunate to get on a Kesler horse today and lucky it all worked out for me."
There were some new faces in the team roping winner's circle in Rapid City.
The team of Paul Beckett (Laramie, Wyo.) and Adam Worthen (Black Forest, Colo.) made the rodeo world stand and take notice on Sunday afternoon, when they stopped the clock in 5.9 seconds to win the Wrangler Tour round. Beckett and Worthen also captured the average title with a total time of 22.5 seconds on three head. In just their second rodeo as partners, they picked up some valuable Tour points and sizeable paychecks.
The saddle bronc riding Tour round victory was shared by Canadian Rod Hay and Utah's Stormy Sagers. Hay (Wildwood, Alberta) rode Sutton Rodeo's Justin Peppers, while Sagers rode Kesler Rodeo's Smiling Cat for 83 points to win the round.
For Hay it was his first two horses back from shoulder surgery that he had following the 2005 Wrangler NFR and for Sagers it was a confidence booster to not only make the Tour round but to win it. Joaquin Real (Ojai, Calif.) picked up the average win with 162 points on two head, just one point ahead of Hay and Sagers.
Barrel racer Andrea Jones was overcome with emotion after winning her first Tour round and average title in Rapid City. Jones (Twin Falls, Idaho) stopped the clock in 12.38 seconds to outdistance the rest of the field in the Tour round and won the average with a total time of 37.56 seconds on three runs. Jones finished ahead of June Holeman (Arcadia, Neb.) in both the Tour and average race. Holeman, who made history in 2005 becoming the oldest person to compete at the Wrangler NFR at the age of 62, finished with a 12.50-second run in the Tour round and 37.73 seconds on three for the average. Jones works full-time as a physical therapist and is a mother of two. Her brother is Wrangler NFR saddle bronc riding qualifier Rusty Allen (Lehi, Utah) and her husband, Pete, is a tie-down roper.
2004 World Champion Bull Rider Dustin Elliott has revamped his goals for 2006 and is ready to regain the world title.
Elliott (North Platte, Neb.) picked up his first Wrangler ProRodeo Tour victory with an 87-point ride on Burns Rodeo's Smoke 'n Ashes. He also won the average with 170 points on two head. This was Elliott's second bull riding victory in Rapid City in as many weeks. He won the Division 2 Xtreme Bull Riding title on Jan. 27 and returned on Feb. 5 to win the rodeo.
"I went to college less than 100 miles from here and in our college days we used to come up here and watch this rodeo and I was always thinking that I wish I could ride here," Elliott said. "Now I have not only gotten to compete here, but now I have won it and it feels pretty good. I have been here twice. The first year, I just got drilled so this is the first year riding a bull for the full eight seconds in this arena and it felt pretty good."
The next Wrangler ProRodeo Tour stop will be the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo on Feb. 19 in San Antonio, Texas.