Steamboat rodeo titles on the line |

Steamboat rodeo titles on the line

There is just one rodeo performance left, but the lure of a commemorative rifle and a $2,000 paycheck will draw Andy Kurtz and other riders to the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena this weekend, hoping for at least one more good ride.

“For me, the most important thing is just relaxing, so I’m not going to be thinking about that stuff too much,” Kurtz said of qualifying for the Pat Mantle Memorial Bronc Ride Off. “But I’m sure it will be somewhere in the back of my mind, and I might even think about it if I have to hang on for another second.”

Kurtz, who grew up in Steamboat Springs, is in the No. 7 spot, just $63 out of the running for this year’s ride-off. One good ride could change that.

Fellow Steamboat rider Michael Sisk is eighth, just less than $200 behind the pack.

“Anything can happen this weekend,” Rodeo Secretary Char Mighton said. “Someone could knock one of these contenders out of the race, or maybe one of them won’t be competing this weekend. We just go down the line according to dollars won.”

Kurtz is well aware of where he is sitting. He knows it will take a good ride or a bit of good luck to break into the ride off, but he is holding onto hope.

“I was born and raised here, so it’s always been one of my goals to qualify for the Pat Mantle ride off,” Kurtz said. “This is a great opportunity to ride in front of the my hometown.”

The Pat Mantle Memorial will highlight what should be an exciting closing weekend of rodeo.

After nine weeks of action, titles are up for grabs in just about every event. The series titles in several events could come down to Saturday’s final rodeo.

The tightest race is in the barrel racing, where Gayla Schaefer of Fruita leads Margie Ward of Eagle by the narrowest of margins. The riders are separated by just $6.

The title in steer wrestling is close, too, with Bill Claunch of Monte Vista holding a $50 lead over Wade Sumpter of Fowler. In bareback riding, Calhan cowboy Cody Fox has the best shot at the series belt buckle.

He will need to hold off Penrose’s Dave Hoffman in the final weekend. Hoffman most likely will have to finish in the top two if he hopes to overcome a $200 deficit and win the buckle.

The margin is close in the No.7 roping, where Jeff Groom of Carbondale and Bruce Arbaney of Glenwood hold a $200 lead over Heath Schlieker of Eaton.

In bull riding, Ryan Greenlee of Greeley is in the lead thanks to some top early season performances.

However, Ross Kleven of Parker has narrowed the lead to just $300 in the past few weeks. A win this weekend could give him the series title.

Longmont’s Chris Downey will need a top showing if he hopes to overcome the $300 lead K.C. Jones has in the tie-down roping. Jones also looks like the favorite to win the all-around cowboy title this season.

Team roper Lance Allen of Cheyenne and saddle bronc rider Ryan Rodewald of Colorado Springs are also favorites to earn buckles at Saturday’s awards ceremony.

Young Cutter Barnes will need a good to hold off Denton Taylor in the pee wee barrels. Barnes, whose older brother Casey won the title in 2001, 2002 and 2003, holds a one-point lead over his cousin, Taylor, in the race. Both boys are from Maybell.

“This is one of the closest final rodeos that we’ve had in years,” said John Shipley, rodeo announcer and board member.

Friday and Saturday night’s rodeo will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Brent Romick Rodeo Arena. All of the winners will be announced at the annual awards ceremony, which follows the rodeo at the Ore House Restaurant on Saturday night.

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