Thurston's Collision Course Sends Him to the Top in San Angelo
SAN ANGELO, TX -- A Canadian cowboy who’s performed for the Royal Family stole the show at the ninth performance of the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo.
Zeke Thurston, a native of Big Valley, Alberta, saddled Rafter H’s Aces Wild for 88.5 points and the lead in saddle bronc riding on Wednesday. He now sits one point ahead of Utah native Rusty Wright in the long round with one more performance until the short go.
“It’s awesome. It’s a really good rodeo,” the 24-year-old saddle bronc rider said. “These winter rodeos are hard to do good at; they take lots of guys. They all ride really good. Me and Rusty, we’ve rode against each other our whole careers. He rides awesome. I was lucky to get a good little horse and made a good ride on him.”
But Thurston knows Wright can unseat him come Friday night’s championship round. So, his job won’t change much going into the short go.
“[I’ll] come back here on the 15th and same thing,” Thurston added. “You’ve just gotta take care of business and it’ll all work out in the end. They’ll tell you who the winner is in the end.”
It was really two athletes on a collision course: Aces Wild was on an upward trend after being marked for 40 points at the Prairie Circuit Finals, nearly 20 points higher than its average when it debuted five years ago, and Thurston had already posted 11 rides over 85 points in 2019, including six rides over that mark in Las Vegas at the NFR.
But the Sheridan College product didn’t have a big scouting report on his dancing partner for Wednesday.
“They said it was just a nice horse, they’ve placed on it quite a bit,” Thurston said. “I asked the guy with the reign. Shoot, he was a nice little horse.”
Confidence has been key to Thurston’s run over the last two months. He rode eight out of 10 horses at the NFR for a combined score of 693.5 to finish third in the world standings. He’s carried that momentum into the winter run by riding 13 of his last 14 horses, finishing fourth in the average at the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo, second at Fort Worth and he is currently into the semifinal round at San Antonio.
With added fuel of wanting his second gold buckle in 2019, Thurston doesn’t think he’s done just yet.
“I’ve just been riding good and confident,” Thurston said. “Just keep the ball rolling. I had a great year last year, missed winning the world by a few dollars. But, you know, that’s the way it goes. We’re started over and we’re gonna try to do it again this year.”
Jordan Wacey Spears, of Redding, Calif., kept the rising trend of Golden State bull riders going on Wednesday night.
Spears, who had ridden two of his last six draws, rode Pete Carr’s bull called Twister for 86.5 points and a shot at the money on Wednesday. That score placed him fourth in the long round, just 2.5 points off the pace set by fellow Californian Aaron Williams and Stetson Wright, who each scored 89 points.
Despite knowing the bull’s average score of 43.83 points going into the night’s performance, Spears kept his focus on the task at hand rather than what eventually happened.
“I go into each bull with an open mindset if they aren’t very good or if they’re outstanding,” Spears said. “You’ve gotta have faith in yourself and plan on riding the bull no matter how rank they are.”
But it was a tough night for the bull riders. The first nine failed to register a qualified ride. That can get into a cowboy’s head, except for riders like Spears.
“Here, whether the guys are riding or not, there’s so much energy in the building with the fans and the music,” Spears said. “I just have a clear mind and I focus on what my job is. Whether everybody’s rode or nobody’s rode, it’s my job to stay on my bull. It definitely helps when other people are riding and the energy is up. But here, the fans do a great job keeping the energy up no matter how good the guys are riding.”
A cowboy from the Badlands of South Dakota made the most of his debut in steer wrestling.
Carson Good, of Long Valley, S.D., threw down his steer in a performance-best 6.0 seconds in front of a crowd that lived up to the hype.
“It’s a good rodeo. I mean, heck, I’ll go back here every year if I can,” Good praised.
The cowboy from up north still has an outside shot at making the short go on Friday. To do that though, near perfection will be needed; the mark to qualify is 9.8 seconds in the average, set by Mike McGinn.
“The move tonight, right when them steer move, get going. That’s what I did and it seemed to work out for me tonight,” Good said. “So, if I take the same start tomorrow night like I did tonight, I should be alright. Just catch the head and do the basics; that’s all there is.”
The San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo will wrap up the long round on Thursday with the 10th performance at 7:30 p.m.
San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo Feb. 1-3, Feb. 8-10, Feb. 13-15 Bareback riding leaders: 1. Bill Tutor, 88 points on Lancaster and Jones’ Highway Man; 2. Kody Lamb, 85; 3. Caleb Bennett, 85.5; 4. Austin Foss, 85; 5. (tie) Taylor Broussard and Jake Vold, 84; 7. (tie) Hunter Brasfield and David Peebles, 83; 9. Tanner Aus, 82.5; 10. Zach Hibler, 82; 11. Jesse Pope, 81; 12. (tie) Tony Barrington and Cody Cabeen, 79.
Steer wrestling: First round leaders: 1. Tucker Allen, 3.6 seconds, $3,636; 2. (tie) Don Payne and Josh Clark, 3.7, $2,925 each; 4. (tie) Scott Guenthner and Sam Shelton, 3.8, $1,976 each; 6. Denell Henderson, 3.9, $1,265; 7. Jacob Talley, 4.0, $791; 8. Dru Melvin, 4.2, $316. Second round: 1. Richard Coats, 3.2 seconds; 2. Dirk Tavenner, 3.8; 3. Tom Lewis, 3.9; 4. (tie) Tanner Brunner and Gary Gilbert, 4.0; 6. (tie) Sam Powers, Ross Mosher and Josh Garner, 4.1. Average: 1. Scott Guenthner, 8.2 seconds on two runs; 2. Tucker Allen, 8.2; 3. Denell Henderson, 8.3; 4. Dru Melvin, 8.4; 5. Josh Clark, 8.7; 6. (tie) Jacob Edler and Blake Knowles, 9.2; 8. Tyler Pearson, 9.5; 9. Payden McIntyre, 9.6; 10. (tie) Stephen Culling and Cody Devers, 9.7; 12. Mike McGinn, 9.8.
Team roping: First round leaders: 1. Clay Smith/Jake Long, 3.6 seconds, $3,763; 2. Nelson Wyatt/Rich Skelton, 3.7, $3,272; 3. Levi Simpson/Cole Davison, 3.8, $2,782; 4. Ty Blasingame/Brandon Bates, 3.9, $2,291; 5. (tie) Coleman Proctor/Ryan Motes, Manny Equsquiza Jr./Dustin Searcy and Tyler Waters/Brady Norman, 4.0, $1,309 each; 8. Anthony Lucia/Wesley Moss, 4.1, $327w2er. Second round leaders: 1. Clay Smith/Jake Long, 3.5 seconds; 2. (tie) Luke Brown/Paul Eaves and Caleb Smidt/Will Woodfin, 3.6; 4. Brandon Webb/Kollin VonAhn, 3.7; 5. (tie) Aaron Tsinigine/Kyle Lockett, Lathen Bryant/Morgan McVay and Shane Phillip/John Phillip, 3.8; 8. Marcus Theriot/Coleby Payne, 3.9. Average leaders: 1. Clay Smith/Jake Long, 7.1 seconds on two runs; 2. Aaron Tsinigine/Kyle Lockett, 8.1; 3. Ty Blasingame/Brandon Bates, 9.5; 4. Garett Chick/Ross Ashford, 9.7; 5. Marcus Theriot/Coleby Payne, 9.8; 6. Levi Simpson/Cole Davison, 10.0; 7. Manny Egusquiza Jr./Dustin Searcy, 10.1; 8. Bart Brunson/Trace Porter, 11.5; 9. Lane Santos Karney/Dillon Wingereid, 11.9; 10. (tie) Coleman Proctor/Ryan Motes and Ryan Reed/Monty Joe Petska, 13.4; 12. Cory Clark/Lane Mitchell, 13.7.
Tie-down roping: First round leaders: 1. Jake Pratt, 7.0 seconds, $4,792; 2. Michael Otero, 7.1, $4,167; 3. Kyle Lucas, 7.4, $3,542; 4. (tie) Trevor Brazile and Blair Smith, 7.5, $2,604 each; 6. Tuf Cooper, 7.6, $1,667; 7. (tie) Blane Cox, John Douch and Bryson Sechrist, 7.7, $486 each. Second round leaders: 1. Adam Gray, 7.1 seconds; 2. (tie) Justin Smith and Bradley Bynum, 7.2; 4. (tie) Tyler Milligan and Cory Solomon, 7.3; 6. (tie) Cimarron Boardman and Jesse Clark, 7.6; 8. Trevor Brazile, 7.7. Average leaders:1. (tie) Trevor Brazile and Michael Otero, 15.2 seconds on two runs; 3. Jesse Clark, 15.5; 4. Jake Pratt, 15.9; 5. Tuf Cooper, 16.1; 6. Haven Meged, 16.5; 7. Hunter Herrin, 16.6; 8. Blake Ash, 16.7; 9. Bradley Bynum, 17.1; 10. Matt Shiozawa, 17.2; 11. Cory Solomon, 17.3; 12. Tyler Milligan, 17.5; 10. Trenton Smith, 17.8; 11. Cody Huber, 18.0; 12. Ryle Smith, 18.8.
Barrel racing: Second round leaders: 1. Nicole Love, 14.08 seconds; 2. Alex Lang, 14.19; 3. (tie) Teri Bangart and Sherry Cervi, 14.29; 5. Stevi Hillman, 14.32; 6. (tie) Halyn Lide and Kappy Allen, 14.34; 8. Mindy Goemmer, 14.35; 9. Dona Kay Rule, 14.38; 10. Lois Ferguson, 14.40. Average leaders: 1. Nicole Love, 30.20 seconds on two runs; 2. Alex Lang, 30.47; 3. Teri Bangart, 30.59; 4. Carolyn Uhler, 30.61; 5. (tie) Stevi Hillman, Cheyenne Wimberley and Lacinda Rose, 30.62; 78. Ryann Pedone, 30.64; 9. Brittney Barnett, 30.67; 10. (tie) Dona Kay Rule and Ilyssa Glass, 30.69; 12. Ivy Conrado, 30.72.
Bull riding leaders: 1. (tie) Aaron Williams, on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Tequila Worm, and Stetson Wright, on United Pro Rodeo’s Happy Days, 89 points; 3. Brady Portenier, 87; 4. Jordan Wacey Spears, 86.5; 5. Rorey Maier, 85; 6. (tie) Cole Meloncon and Riker Carter, 84; 8. Aaron Pass, 83.5; 9. (tie) Dave Mason, Wyatt Edwards, Daylon Swearingen and Chase Dougherty, 83.