The calendar screams the motivation. For athletes with aspirations to reach the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, late June and Cowboy Christmas over July 4 represent the time to start simmering.
Kolby Wanchuk, however, almost got too hot at the West of the Pecos Rodeo in Pecos, Texas.
“It finally got below 100 degrees at one point. It was very, very hot,” Wanchuk said. “The crowd was good. There were a lot of people there (at Buck Jackson Arena). They are used to it. I didn’t need to warm up to create a sweat that’s for sure. I just had to make sure to drink water and be ready for everything.”
Wanchuk turned a solid draw into a terrific performance. He delivered an 89-point ride on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s South Point Gambler to win the Playoff Series Rodeo, which concluded Saturday night. It was his first time on the stock, but Wanchuk knew what was possible after watching Dawson Hay, among others, produce big scores on the horse.
“Yeah, he’s kind of a great, big horse. He takes a lot of reins. He came out really strong,” Wanchuk said. “Those first few jumps were really good. The horse had been in bareback riding for a while, and made the move to saddle bronc, and he’s really all a guy could ask for.”
The 26-year-old Sherwood Park, Alberta, native believes this performance can help throttle up his summer. Wanchuk has forged a reputation as one of the top saddle bronc riders, notching back-to-back NFR berths. Those were built on impressive winters, including sterling work at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. This season is a little different. He’s pursuing more but embracing the challenge.
“We are getting into Cowboy Christmas here soon. This is the time to make the move (with the big paydays at these rodeos). I am a bit back from where I wanted to be,” said Wanchuk, who placed eighth in the PRCA | RAM World Standings last season and currently sits 22nd in the standings. “But I am feeling good. I am looking forward to the chase.”
For Wanchuk, this lifestyle is as satisfying as the rides. The sport is spangled with Canadians who have become regulars on the national stage. Wanchuk has been part of rodeos since he was 2 years old as part of his father Rick’s clown performances before he became a competitor. Now, he can’t imagine doing anything else.
“It’s unbeatable. We get to travel around all year with our best friends, get on bucking horses to make a living and see the entire country,” Wanchuk said. “You see different rodeos, different ways of life and get to experience things a lot of people never do. And now with so many Canadians doing well, it connects everyone. We have a whole country behind us.”
Other winners at the $212,965 rodeo were bareback rider Rocker Steiner (90.5 points on Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Faded Night); steer wrestler Cade Staton (9.7 seconds on two head); team ropers Casey Tew/Colton Johnson (14.0 seconds on two head); tie-down roper Cole Clemons (19.7 seconds on two head); barrel racer Ivy Hurst (17.58 seconds); steer roper Billy Good (40.9 seconds on three head); and bull rider Dustin Boquet (89.5 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Whiskey On Ice).
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