Calgary – Alberta’s Zeke Thurston already has two Calgary Stampede championships, and could be in the running for three after notching a go-round win Thursday in Round 7 action. The Big Valley Saddle Bronc rider actually earned money in two rounds in one day, as he started the afternoon with a reride to complete Round 6. His 84 score there gave him a share of third place and $3000. Then he came back on his Round 7 horse, Super Sox, with an 86 mark. That was good enough for first and another $5500.
“You couldn’t ask for a better horse,” Thurston said. “Just jumped and kicked and circled there in front of the judges. That’s what you want in a bucking horse. It’s nice to get a victory lap here,” he grinned. Although Thurston, who turns 23 on Saturday, doesn’t want to get ahead of himself, the thought of a three-peat hangs in the air.
“The possibility is there. I’m just thankful for the opportunity to be able to come to Calgary and ride at a rodeo of this caliber. Everybody looks forward to Calgary all year. It’s a unique rodeo, one of a kind.”
Thurston has jacked his Stampede bank account up to $10,000, but he’s got two consistent stars ahead of him. Cody DeMoss leads the pack with $11,500, followed by Sterling Crawley with $11,000.
While many of the Stampede competitors have had the advantage of growing up around the sport, Mason Clements isn’t one of them. In fact, he’s a self-described city kid who wanted to ride bucking horses… and he’s doing it well.
“I didn’t grow up in a rodeo family. No one in my family rodeos. I always fell in love with horses, the western lifestyle. I started when I was little, doing junior rodeos.” While he started as a bull rider, the Utah cowboy first put his hand in a bareback riggin’ at 19 years of age, and found his true rodeo calling.
Clements has been able to string together an impressive trio of rides at his first Calgary Stampede, with his best on Thursday, an 87.5 on Paradise Moon. That $5500 cheque puts him on top of Pool B with $11,500 in earnings.
“It was a blast. I didn’t want to stop after the whistle. I was going to go ten or twelve seconds. Then after we rode I started thinking about the bronze. I don’t know if that was a little too soon, and then getting on the victory lap horse, that was probably jumping the gun a little bit, but it all worked out,” he grinned.
The crowd was roaring in the barrel racing when Stevi Hillman came out and set a sizzling new fast time for the year, rounding the pattern in 17.07 seconds. But then eight racers later, along came Tiany Schuster to shave off a tenth, and grab the bronze and $5500 cheque, when she crossed the line in 17.06 seconds.
“I didn’t even know the time, but when I heard everybody go ‘wow’ and the crowd go ‘ooh and ah’, you just knew it was going to be exciting,” exclaimed Schuster, who rodeos out of Krum, TX. Showmance is the registered name of her seven-year-old horse, a tag that’s taken on a life of its own.
“Like bro-mance or romance, it’s become such a sticker factor because it’s such a recognizable name. He showed up today. And it was a romance here at Calgary!”
Schuster, who’s way out in front in the world standings, now has $6250 in Pool B. Sherry Cervi placed for her third straight day, and leads the race to Showdown Sunday with $12,500.
Another world standings leader, Texan Caleb Smidt had the fastest run of the day in tie-down roping with 7.3 seconds. He’s the Pool B leader with $11,500, followed by Matt Shiozawa at $10,500.
One year ago, Wyoming’s Seth Brockman walked up on the grandstand stage and collected the giant cheque for $100,000 in steer wrestling. Thursday he was back there, winning one of the small bronzes for a third round run of 3.5 seconds and $5500. He’s now got $9000, just behind leader JD Struxness with his tally of $10,500.
It was a high flying eight seconds of motion, with an equally high score, as Brennon Eldred of Oklahoma made an 88.5 point bull ride on Evil Genius.
“I was excited to have him,” said Eldred. “He’s got a lot of drop and he jerks a lot of people down on his head. I knew that that was the main part, just to stay away from those big horns, and it paid off.”
The $5500 bumped the Stampede newcomer to the top of Pool B with $10,500, followed by J.B. Mauney with $9,500.
Friday is the last chance for Pool B competitors to secure a place among the top four in each event, who get a bye through to Showdown Sunday.
About the Calgary Stampede
The Calgary Stampede celebrates the people, the animals, the land, the traditions and the values that make up the unique spirit of the west. The Calgary Stampede contributes to the quality of life in Calgary and southern Alberta through our world-renowned 10-day Stampede, year-round facilities, western events and several youth and agriculture programs. Exemplifying the theme We’re Greatest Together; we are a volunteer-supported, not-for-profit community organization that preserves and promotes western heritage and values. All revenue is reinvested into Calgary Stampede programs and facilities.
For more information, please contact:
Western Events and Agriculture
Community Engagement & Communications