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Las Vegas, Nev. – For 10 days, the top 15 cowboys and cowgirls from around the country came to compete at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR), which came to a close on Dec. 16. Contestants competed for world titles in seven events and $10 million in cash and prizes during NFR.

Wyomingites competed hard during the event, seeing several top-five finishes.

Ryder Wright, saddle bronc champion, edged Brody Cress of Hillsdale out of the win.

Cress finished second in the world and was the 2017 saddle bronc average champion with a score of 841.5 on 10 horses. Cress earned $282,286 this rodeo season. 

Also from Wyoming, coming in fourth in the bareback event, Cowley native JR Vezain, earned $220,830 this season. Vezain was third in the bareback average with 842.4 on 10 horses at the 2017 NFR.

In other events at the 2017 NFR, the All-Around Champion buckle was awarded to Tuf Cooper, tie-down roper, who earned around $341,560 this rodeo season.

For the second year running, Tim O’Connell won the bareback championship.

Tyler Pearson was crowned the 2017 steer wrestling champion.

In the team roping event, header Erich Rodgers and heeler Cory Petska won the team roping championship by almost $10,000.

Marcos Costa won the tie-down roping championship and also earned the 2017 RAM Top Gun Award for winning the most money in any single event at NFR.

The 2017 NFR barrel racing championship went to Nellie Miller, who earned a whopping $308,498 this rodeo season.

Last, the bull riding champion was Sage Kimzey, who beat the competition by over $100,000. This was the fourth year in a row Kimzey has won the bull riding event at NFR.

For the eighth year in a row, Dusty Tuckness of Meeteetse won the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Bullfighter of the Year Award.

Tuckness told the Cody Enterprise, “In any year, it’s anybody’s ballgame. It’s a privilege to be in the last group of nominees.”

For complete results from NFR, visit Heather Loraas is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Rapid City, S.D. – From Jan. 26-Feb. 4, the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo (BHSS) brought over 330,000 people to Rapid City, S.D., along with 120 livestock, horse and rodeo events and 300 vendors, for South Dakota’s second largest event of the year. 

“Our little Midwestern City becomes a slice of the Old West when cowboys and ranchers come to town to compete in 10 different breeds of cattle shows, ranch rodeos and 14 different events,” says BHSS. “There is something for everyone, including concerts and a beer festival. This year also featured new national horse events.”

BHSS adds, “Whether it’s competing in the American Quarter Horse Association Horse Show, riding a wild bronc or showcasing prized livestock, the Black Hills Stock Show encourages everyone to ‘Do Big Things’ in Rapid City.” 

The event, held on the Central States Fairgrounds, brought attendees and contestants from across the region, including from Wyoming. 

Visit for more information from the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo.

Baggs – High school junior Garrett Grieve of Baggs is no stranger to rodeo success, but with years of practice and work building the fundamentals, he’s put in the hard work and earned his accomplishments.
    Grieve was awarded the prestigious title of All-Around Cowboy at the Wyoming High School Finals Rodeo, held in Douglas on June 20 – 24.
    “I’ve been rodeoing since I was really little, since I was five or six,” comments Grieve, who competes in tie down calf roping, cutting and as a header in team roping. “I like team roping the best.”
From the beginning
    Garrett’s parents, Pat and Anita Grieve, have been strong supporters of his rodeo career and have coached him from the beginning.
    “I’ve been trying to teach Garrett the proper fundamentals since he was little,” says Pat. “A lot of rodeo kids practice a lot, but they practice improper fundamentals.”
    “We’ve shown him the correct fundamentals and supervise, so if things start to go haywire, we can correct it,” he adds.
    By correcting errors in Grieve’s technique before he learns skills incorrectly, Grieve has been able to perform consistently and correctly, notes Pat.
    Grieve has also been very involved in the family ranch since childhood, which allows him to practice daily. The Grieve’s are involved in training their own horses, particularly heading horses.
    “We buy horses young and ride them on the ranch,” Pat notes. “Garrett has put in a lot of miles, and he ropes every day.”
A steady progression
    “Everything is a step-by-step process,” explains Pat. “You have to start at one level and go to the next.”
    Grieve started his trek up the ladder by competing in 2006 with the Wyoming Junior Rodeo Association event and was awarded the title of All-Around Cowboy at that level.
    He received the same honor at the junior high level, placing as reserve All-Around Cowboy at the National Junior High Finals in Gallup, N.M. in 2009, as well as the national team roping champion award.
    “He took the next step into high school, and Garrett and his partner were reserve in team roping when he was a freshman, and last year they were state champions,” says Pat. “If he works hard and has good fundamentals, we hope he will have a lot of success next year in high school and at the amateur level.”
This year
    At the Wyoming High School Rodeo Finals this year, Grieve says, “My team roping partner and I knew what we had to do when we got to state, we went in with confidence, and we got it done.”
    Grieve adds that while many high school rodeo contestants partner with someone different each year, he has roped with Coley Nicholls of Kinnear for the last four years.
    “We know each other’s styles,” he explains. “I know what he needs and he knows what I need – that’s nice.”
    The pair roped their way to a Wyoming High School Rodeo Finals championship, and Grieve placed first in the tie down calf roping as well.
    “Garrett also competed in the cutting this year,” adds Pat. “The Johnson family in Casper allowed him to borrow a horse to compete.”
    With the National High School Finals Rodeo coming in July, Grieve has continued to train, saying, “I need to focus on the goal ahead, set my mind to it and keep practicing.”
    To stay involved in the competitive realm, Grieve will practice for a week before heading to Shawnee, Okla. to the International Finals Youth Rodeo.
Professional aspirations
    While Grieve is too young to compete in the professional sphere yet, he hopes to compete in the pro rodeo circuit after high school.
    “Garrett is just a junior in high school, and he can’t compete at the professional level until he turns 18,” explains Pat. “He’ll stay in the high school rodeos, and we’ll encourage him to compete in amateur rodeos until then.”
    Grieve is active in other extracurricular activities at Little Snake River Valley High School and was a member of the state champion basketball and football teams this year as well.
    “We put in a lot of work,” adds Pat. “Garrett puts in a tremendous amount of time and commitment, and it works.”
    Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

High school finalists to continue at nationals
    With the Wyoming High School Finals Rodeo complete, competitors from around Wyoming will compete in 17 categories at the National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs on July 15 – 21.
    The 2012 Wyoming national qualifiers can be found at

Cheyenne – “I started with Cheyenne Frontier Days when I was five years old, riding in my first parade,” said Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame Class of 2010 inductee April Jones at the Sept. 15 ceremony at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum.
The daughter of Al Belecky, a HEEL and chuck wagon outrider, and Fern Belecky, a flag bearer, April was involved in Frontier Days since even younger than age five. After many years in the event, she was chosen as Lady-in-Waiting to Miss Frontier 1961, Mary Weppner.
April’s husband T.V. “Tommy” Jones joined her in the 2010 class of Hall of Fame inductees. April and T.V. met in 1961, while T.V. was working with the Wyoming Stockman Farmer and was hired to announce the Chuck Wagon Races at Frontier Days, as well as night show events.
“I was an aspiring young announcer, and I wanted to announce Cheyenne,” said T.V. at the ceremony. “They took me on to do the chuck wagon races and slack events. The first year I announced the chuck wagon races I did it out of the box, and couldn’t see anything. We had a spotter on the backtrack with a telephone, and he’d give me the placings as they were running. The race was a figure eight around the barrels, then around the track, and all hell would break loose.”
“It was truly exciting,” said T.V. of announcing the races. “They came from the north, and it was truly a sound of ‘thunder out of the north.’ It was a phenomenal event, and a lot of fun, and I’m sorry it’s gone. It’s a great part of Cheyenne’s history of Frontier Days.”
T.V. went on to announce the “Thunder Out of the North” for the next 32 years.
Meanwhile, as Miss Frontier Days 1962, April instituted an important organization to the grand entry.
“The grand entry was such a mismash when I was Miss Frontier, so I took it upon myself to organize it,” said April, adding she realized many girls passed the grandstand before or after their name was called. In 1963 she began doing a line up for the announcer, and continued to do so for over 20 years, in both parades and grand entries.
In addition to their visible involvement in Frontier Days, April and T.V. hosted many of the notable people who attended Frontier Days. As night show committee hosts for 15 years, they entertained the likes of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Roy Clark, Tanya Tucker, Barbara Mandrell and Pete Fountain.
T.V. said at one point their kids met two cowboys in Denver, Colo. at the National Western Stock Show, and told them to stay with them when they were in Cheyenne. “Those first two who came were Glenn MacElvay and Lane Frost. They stayed in our ‘bullrider bunkhouse’ downstairs, and we never knew if it would be four or 14 coming up the stairs the next morning. And April, with all she was already doing, would fix a big dinner for all of them. Nobody ever knows all the things she does through the course of Frontier Days.”
In 1980, they were also founding members of the Cheyenne Frontier Days Western Art Show – a chief fundraiser for the CFD Old West Museum.
“April and I went to North Platte, Neb., where they had a good art show already, and if we had known how little we knew about what we were getting into, we wouldn’t have stayed five minutes,” said T.V. “The first year we went to North Platte and Phoenix, Ariz., and came up with 26 artists. They told us if we made money in the first five years we’d be lucky, and that most art shows die within three years. After the first year we made $13, and we’ve never looked back.”
Over the course of time, T.V. said the art show has generated over $3.5 million for the CFD Old West Museum. “It’s been a labor of love,” he said.
Christy Hemken is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Sheridan – The 25th Annual Sheridan Elk’s Youth Rodeo was held Aug. 26-27, drawing contestants from Arizona, Oklahoma, Texas, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, Colorado, South Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming to the rodeo’s 26 events. 

Three arenas running at the same time were used to accommodate the 744 entrees each day. Some of the events included 131 goat tiers, 128 barrel racers and 94 breakaway ropers each day.

“This was a hard two days with very skilled competitors. We were impressed with the contestants’ attitudes and their commitment,” says Robert Strausser, youth rodeo chairman.

Cash and awards of $71,590 were presented to contestants ages 17 and under. These consisted of cash and scholarships of $12,252 and awards valued at $59,338.

Ellie Bard, 16, from Sheridan, won the Senior All-Around and a one-year lease of a new Ford truck, provided by Fremont Motors of Sheridan. Bard has competed in the rodeo since she was a Pee Wee contestant.

Tanner McInerney, 17, from Alzada, Mont. received the Senior Reserve Champion honors and a $2,000 scholarship.

The Senior Reserve Runner-up, receiving a saddle, was Bella Fossum, 16, from Billings, Mont.

Cooper Deveraux, 16, from Newcastle won the All-Around Youth award and a Jackson three-horse slant load trailer, provided by Prime Rate Motors of Sheridan.

Hadley Thompson, 9, from Yoder received a $2,000 scholarship as the All-Around Youth Reserve Champion. Krissy VanderVoort, 17, from Billings, Mont. received the All-Around Youth Reserve Runner-up $1,000 scholarship.

The saddle for the Intermediate All-Around went to Haiden Thompson, 13, from Yoder.

The saddle for the Junior All-Around went to Hadley Thompson, 9, from Yoder, and the saddle for the Pee Wee All-Around went to Jewel Randall, 6, from Wheatland.

Strauser says, “The Sheridan Elk’s Lodge #520 wishes to thank all of the contestants and sponsors for their help in making this possible and is looking forward to holding this event again next year.”