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July 01, 2014 7:54 am

Cody Stampede important stop for cowboys

Former Northwest College rider Jake Taylor competes in the team roping event at the 2013 Trapper Stampede Rodeo. The Cody Stampede rodeo runs all this week. Former Northwest College rider Jake Taylor competes in the team roping event at the 2013 Trapper Stampede Rodeo. The Cody Stampede rodeo runs all this week. Photo courtesy Dan Baney/Northwest College

CODY — The Cody Stampede, which kicked off Monday night with an Extreme Bulls performance and continues through Friday, is one of 24 rodeos that are being held over the Fourth of July  celebrating Independence Day.

It is held in high regard by contestants and is known as the largest one-header rodeo in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA).

Rodeo action will feature bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping and bull riding. The Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) barrel race will also be held. Each of the approximately 800 contestants will compete once in their chosen event. With the committee’s purse and entry fees, it all adds up to big paydays for winners.

At other rodeos, prize money may be split among more than one round of competition, and while it gives contestants more opportunities to win, the checks are smaller. Last year’s big winner was Ty Breuer in the bareback riding; he set an arena record with a 91-point ride on Frontier Rodeo’s Show Stomper.

Breuer, from Mandan, N.D., earned $10,973 for his eight-second effort. That money helped the former National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association champion qualify for his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR). In fact, the money won here helped all of the Cody Stampede’s PRCA champions qualify for the NFR.

Steer wrestler Straws Milan from Cochrane, Alberta, Canada, earned $9,440 and also made his first trip to Las Vegas to compete in rodeo’s championship event. In the team roping, Kaleb Driggers of Albany, Ga., and Travis Graves of Jay, Okla., earned $8,930 and finished the year in the top four in the world standings.

Two-time world champion saddle bronc rider Cody Wright from Milford, Utah, entered the NFR in first place thanks in part to the $8,750 he won here and finished the season in third place. Another Cody won the tie-down roping in the Cody Stampede — Cody Ohl from Hico, Texas. The six-time world champion earned $9,792 here and finished the season as the reserve world champion.

The 2011 world champion bull rider Shane Proctor, who lives in North Carolina but grew up in Washington, earned $8,835. This was his third NFR qualification.

Both Breuer and Proctor have ties to Wyoming from their college rodeo experiences. Breuer earned the college championship while competing for Central Wyoming College at Riverton. Proctor started his education at Powell’s Northwest College before transferring to Montana State University.

So when the gates open on this year’s Cody Stampede, rodeo fans can expect to see the best of the best once again. That is a tradition that has been happening here for 95 years.

“We always try to make it to Cody,” said Trevor Brazile, reigning and 11-time world champion all-around cowboy. “It’s such a busy time, and that’s a rodeo you can work into your schedule. It may take a plane to get you there, but to be able to go rope for that amount of money on just one head, you do what you have to do.”

Brazile has won all-around titles here twice and the tie-down roping championship in 2005. He and team roping partner Travis Graves will be cowboys to watch for at this year’s Stampede.

Tickets are on sale at www.codystampederodeo.com. Rodeo performances will start Tuesday through Thursday beginning at 8 p.m., with the Fourth of July performance beginning at 5 p.m.

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