It was a night of firsts in the championship showdown at the Ponoka Stampede.
Six out of the seven winners walked off with their first championship buckle and jacket to go along with a wad of cash.
Steer wrestler Scott Guenthner from Provost was the lone individual Albertan to win, putting up a 5.4 second run to capture the title.
“I’m just trying to be more consistent this year, stay behind the barrier and make good runs. I knew I was in good shape as the final was going to be wide open,” he said.
“I just wanted to stay safe, put up a solid run and leave it up the last cowboy.”
Ponoka steer wrestler Craig Weisgerber was certainly in the runnings but he broke the barrier just ahead of the steer. Despite that, break Weisgerber walked away with $7,881 total earnings for the week.
The other Albertans to ride off with a championship was the team roping pair of Nanton’s Tristin Woolsey and Denver Johnson from Strathmore. The pair had the advantage of running last in the showdown and it made the difference, netting a 5.3 second run for the victory.
“I wanted to be off the barrier a bit and see a good start. The steer came left and I managed to get him turned,” Johnson said. “We drew a friendly steer and did great with what we got”
As for Woolsey, he was able to block out the nerves, “We jumped the steer left and I just wanted to heel him as fast as I could.”
Richmond Champion was another first time winner, garnering a huge 91.25 score on Virgil in the bareback showdown. And that big score was just enough, as Airdrie resident – and Ponoka native – Jake Vold earned a 90.75 score, his second 90 plus score of the Stampede.
As it happened, Vold ended up earning more total money overall, $14,097, compared to Champion at $12,948, but the stronger ride made the difference in terms of getting the buckle.
“It was nice to have those kinds of scores, even with out a win,” said Vold, who took five months away from rodeo to recover from knee surgery.
“I really wanted to make sure I was healthy before coming back and now it feels like I will be a force to be reckoned with. And Ponoka is always fun, no matter what happens.”
The rest of the first time winners were Stevi Hillman of Weatherford, Texas in the barrel racing with a fast time of 17.385 seconds, Joe Frost from Randlett, Utah in the bull riding and Sterling Crawley from Stephenville, Texas in the saddle bronc.
Hillman’s winning run of 17.385 seconds was the fastest of the week, while Frost’s 78.5 was the only good ride of the showdown and Crawley scored a great 88.75 to win by half a point.
Ponoka’s Shayna Weir made it to the final four and would have had a time of 17.369 seconds, but a turned barrel dropped that win, however, she walked away with $7,065 in total money.
Meanwhile, Trevor Brazile won his second Stampede title in the tie down roping with a 7.3 second run.
The overall payout was just over $508,000 with an overall attendance at the Stampede of close to 88,000.