The 12 circuit finals offer competitors a chance to take advantage of their success from the rodeo season before and turn it in to some extra cash for next season’s world standings. That was on Scott Guenthner’s mind as he headed to Great Falls for the Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit Finals.
“I wanted to be able to go in and make some solid runs, try to pick up some extra money, especially since it counts towards the season,” said Guenthner, who finished out to 2017 season in the No. 6 spot in the world coming out of his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
Experience paid off in round one for the Provost, Alberta, cowboy when he drew a steer that was unknown to him.
“In the first round I had a steer that didn’t go to the national finals," he said. "There were nine steers in the pen that did, and four that didn’t. I got one of the ones that didn’t, so I just went with an average and threw him down.”
Guenthner got it done in 4.5 seconds to win third in the round and start adding some cash to his standings. Round two went much the same, with Guenthner throwing a stronger steer down in 5.1 seconds to split second and third.
“I was leading the average by about half a second going in to the final day but I missed the barrier and had to run him down," he said. "Luckily I didn’t get into a wreck because I was at the end of the arena, pretty much ran him to the bucking chutes, so I was a bit slower and ended up third in the average.”
Bridger Chambers took home the average title with his time of 15.3 seconds on three head, but a strong lead heading in to the finals and three checks during meant Guenthner would ultimately be the circuit champion and earn a spot to compete at the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR) for even more money towards the world standings.
“I walked out of the Montana circuit finals with 4300, you can easily walk out of the RAM Circuit Finals with 15 or 20 thousand they say if you do well there,” said Guenthner. “It’s definitely going to be a big boost if I can do well, and there’s only so many [competitors] there, it’s not like you’re going against 100 guys; it’s only two from each circuit.”
Joining Guenthner at the RNCFR is the highest earner of the entire Montana Circuit. Bareback rider JR Vezain won a combined regular-season and finals earnings of $27,083.49 to win the bareback title as well as the average title for the finals with a combined score of 253 points on three head. Jessy Davis will also roll up to the RNCFR from his second place spot in the standings.
The story in the team roping was much the same, with Dustin Bird and Chase Tryan winning both the year-end and the average titles. Bird had $23,216.46 in earnings and Tryan had $16,413.53; the pair were 14.8 on three head to win the average. Cody Tew and Matt Robertson will roll up into the RNCFR.
Saddle bronc riders Jesse Kruse and Ricky Warren won the year-end and average titles respectively. Kruse was the No. 1 bronc rider in the circuit with $12,559.95, Warren was just behind Kruse in the standings but finished No. 1 in the average with 230 points on three head to also earn a RNCFR qualification.
The year-end race was tight between two tie-down ropers, with Nolan Conway edging out Hank Hollenbeck in the year-end standings by just over $300, Conway’s final earnings at $11,693.51. In contrast, Conway ran away with the average title with his time of 31.1 seconds on three head, more than five seconds ahead of his closest competition. Both Conway and Hollenbeck advance.
Three runs saw Ashley Day in the No. 1 spot in the barrel racing average with 40.35 seconds on three runs, nudging ahead of her closest competition by 0.25 of a second. The year-end title went home with Shelly Anzick for her $19,785.27 eared during the season and at the finals.
In the bull riding Parker Breding was the third highest single-event earner of the entire circuit with $26,759.79. The bulls were tough at the finals and Breding was the only bull rider to stay on two of his bulls, winning the average with a combined score of 171. Guy Nordahl was second in the year-end standings and will roll up to compete at RNCFR.
View the full Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit Finals results at prorodeo.com.