SAN ANGELO, TX – Cole Franks has spent his life around rodeo.
That happens when he’s the son of a ProRodeo cowboy, but there’s more to it. He is making his way in the game his own way as a bareback rider. Though he’s just beginning, he proved Friday night that he’s more than capable.
He spurred Northcott Macza Rodeo’s Hot Flash for 88 points to take the opening-night lead at the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo on Friday at Foster Communications Coliseum. It was just the second time he’d ever posted a score that high and was the first time he’d done it at an event sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the premier body in the game.
“I’d seen a couple videos on Facebook of that horse with Will Lowe and Orin Larsen, and he looked pretty hard to ride,” said Franks, 20, the son of Bret Franks, a three-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier in saddle bronc riding and now the coach at Clarendon (Texas) College, about four hours north of San Angelo.
“I knew it was going to be a fight.”
Franks came out the winner. More importantly, he will return to this west Texas community in two weeks to compete in the championship round and take a shot at winning one of the most coveted titles in the sport.
“He left (the chute) really hard and had a little move right out of there and almost got me out of shape,” said Franks, a sophomore rodeoing for his dad at Clarendon and the leader of the Southwest Region’s bareback riding and all-around standings. “I let my feet come up to the riggin’ and got back under him. He was strong and fast, but it felt really good.
“Being 88 was relieving, but it just wants to make you want to be 89.”
This is his rookie season, but it’s been a bit rough heading into the first performance into this weekend. He’s finished just out of the money at most rodeos he’s attended, but he gained a great deal of confidence with Friday’s performance.
“I’d really like to win the rookie (of the year) title this year,” he said. “If I could make the NFR, that would be great, but I’m really going for it in 2022. That’s all in the crosshairs.”
While his dad serves as his college coach, there have been plenty of mentors along the way. His dad can help with some aspects of bareback riding, but Bret Franks’ forte was in the saddle. When he was first getting started, Cole Franks received a grand education from Jeffrey Collins, the 2000 bareback world champion.
“Dad helps a lot with the mental aspects of rodeo,” Cole Franks said. “He’s also good with the physical side of it with the workouts and being in the best shape possible. Jeff helped by drilling it into me to keep everything basic and make it as simple as possible.”
Like all athletes, fundamentals come into play, whether they are in their rookie seasons or veterans who have already earned gold. Franks showed that with a powerful ride to kick start San Angelo’s rodeo.
“The atmosphere in that building was crazy,” he said. “It was awesome.”
He will now get to experience it on championship night.
San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo
April 9-23, 2021
Bareback riding leaders: 1. Cole Franks, 88 points on Northcott Macza’s Hot Flash; 2. Tim O’Connell, 86; 3. Jacob Lees, 77; no other qualified rides.
Steer wrestling: First round leaders: 1. Jason Thomas, 4.6 seconds; 2. Clayton Hass, 5.0; 3. Will Lummus, 5.2; 4. Tucker Allen, 6.9; 5. Blake Knowles, 7.1; 6. Ryan Lewis, 8.2; 7. Luke Branquinho, 13.5; 8. Stetson Jorgensen, 20.0.
Team roping: First round leaders: 1. Cody Snow/Wesley Thorp, 4.2 seconds; 2. Brenten Hall/Chase Tryan, 4.7; 3. Nick Sartain/Reagan Ward, 5.2; 4. Levi Simpson/Tyler Worley, 7.7; 5. Derrick Begay/Jake Edwards, 10.2; no other qualified times.
Saddle bronc riding leaders: 1. Allen Boore, 83 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Texas Playboy; 2. Lucas Macza, 82.5; 3. Mitch Pollock, 81; 4. Chance West, 58; no other qualified rides.
Tie-down roping: First round leaders: 1. Tuf Cooper, 7.3 seconds; 2. Riley Pruitt, 8.0; 3. Cooper Martin, 8.6; 4. Westyn Hughes, 8.7; 5. Blane Cox, 8.9; 6. Cody Craig, 10.3; 7. Michael Otero, 12.4; 8. Tyler Milligan, 15.8.
Barrel racing: Second round leaders: 1. (tie) Kelly Bruner and Jimmie Smith, 14.36 seconds; 3. Keyla Polizello Costa, 14.44; 4. Leia Pluemer, 14.57; 5. Mindy Goemmer, 14.67; 6. Shelly Shields, 14.72; 7. Cassidy Champlin, 14.81; 8. Lisa Fernandes, 15.16; 9. Kristel Ising, 15.47; 10. Cristin Posey, 15.60. Average leaders: 1. Kelly Bruner, 30.28 seconds on two runs; 2. Keyla Polizello Costa, 30.62; 3. Mindy Goemmer, 30.86; 4. Cassidy Champlin, 30.89; 5. Jimmie Smith, 30.94; 6. Leia Pluemer, 31.18; 7. Shelly Shields, 31.30; 8. Lisa Fernandes, 31.54; 9. Kristel Ising, 32.09; 10. Cristin Posey, 32.22.
Bull riding leaders: 1. Laramie Mosley, 89 points on Lancaster & Jones Pro Rodeo’s Final Rainbow; no other qualified rides.