Casey Martin breaks through in Cody

August 17, 2015

CODY, Wyo. – Casey Martin was looking for a big win to break the recent dry spell he’d experienced in the rodeo arena. He found it Aug. 16 when he picked up a huge victory at the Cody Stampede Wrangler Champions Challenge, presented by Justin Boots.

Martin won the steer wrestling title in front of a large crowd at Stampede Park with a 4.9-second run, earning $5,440.

“It was an electrifying crowd that was cheering for everyone,” Martin said. “It was a packed house, and a really fun place to compete. I’m tickled to death. Things haven’t been going the best and I hadn’t had a big win in awhile, so this was nice.”

Entering the weekend, the 33-year-old Martin found himself squarely on the bubble for his fifth straight trip to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

He sat 15th in the Aug. 10 Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings, but says he wasn’t concerned about his spot just yet.

“This means a whole lot because I was getting bumped down (in the standings) and the last two weeks hadn’t been great,” the Sulphur, La., cowboy said. “I know there are about 25 rodeos left for me, so I’m not that worried about it, but lately it’s been one thing or another, and I had been placing but not winning.”

Martin – who has finished in the top four in the world each of the last three seasons –won Rodeo Austin at the end of March, but since then hadn’t had a signature victory. While he was placing at many rodeos, he needed one more big win to put himself in a more solid position in the top 15, and he did just that. Martin moved to 13th in the Aug. 17 standings.

He hopes the win in Cody will lead to more in the last month-and-a-half of the regular season.

“All it takes is one win to start a roll and boost your confidence,” Martin said. “I keep the same strategy at these Champions Challenge events as regular rodeos, and run at the barrier the same. The best guys in the world are at every big rodeo, but it’s a lot better when you can win this kind of money without having to beat a lot of other guys.”

Other winners at the $123,600 rodeo were bareback rider Kaycee Feild (87.5 points on Burch Rodeo’s Jim Dandy), team ropers Jake Barnes and Junior Nogueira (6.0 seconds), saddle bronc rider Cody DeMoss (89 points on Burch Rodeo’s Lunatic From Hell), tie-down ropers Tuf Cooper and Matt Shiozawa (8.3 seconds each), barrel racer Jill Welsh (17.50 seconds) and bull rider Chandler Bownds (87 points on Summit Pro Rodeo’s Ben Johnson).

Bobby Mote’s bareback riding win in Hermiston, Ore., along with a shared title at the Missoula (Mont.) Stampede and a fourth-place check at the Wrangler Champions Challenge in Cody, Wyo., gave him total earnings of $9,660 for the week and moved him from sixth place to second in the Aug. 17 Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings. What’s truly impressive about this rise is that Mote has managed it while going to far fewer rodeos than most of his rivals. His 45-rodeo count is more than 30 behind standings leader Evan Jayne and less than everybody in the top 20 except reigning World Champion Kaycee Feild (currently fourth), who was sidelined for a couple of months after undergoing hip surgery. R.C. Landingham, who has just missed qualifying for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo by finishing 16th each of the last two seasons, had wins in Tehachapi, Calif., and Ventura, Calif., along with a check in Billings, Mont., to move up to 17th place with six weeks remaining in the season.
Canadian saddle bronc rider Zeke Thurston moved himself firmly off the bubble this past weekend with his shared title in Hermiston, Ore., plus second-place results at the Omak (Wash.) Stampede and the Wrangler Champions Challenge in Cody, Wyo. It all added up to $10,596 – the highest earnings total this past week, in any event – and moved him from 13th place to 10th in the world standings. Event leader Cody DeMoss had wins at the Jasper (Alberta) Heritage Rodeo and Wrangler Champions Challenge to increase his lead over Rusty Wright in second place to $22,066.
The May-December team of Cody Snow and Dugan Kelly (Snow turns 19 in October and Kelly will be 38 in November) made quite an impression over Cowboy Christmas week when they banked $17,108 each, and they are seemingly off on another hot streak. A shared win at the Omak (Wash.) Stampede along with a second-place finish at the Yellowstone River Round-Up in Billings, Mont., and another check in Hermiston, Ore., yielded total earnings of $8,239 apiece. That was enough to move Snow from 26th to 22nd and Kelly, a six-time WNFR qualifier, from 19th to 13th. The only team roper to earn more last week was eight-time World Champion Heeler Clay O’Brien Cooper, who ended up with $8,348 by winning checks in Hermiston and Missoula with Derrick Begay and finishing second at the Wrangler Champions Challenge with Aaron Tsinigine (O’Brien Cooper moved up one spot to second place, behind Jade Corkill and ahead of Patrick Smith). Begay roped with Travis Woodard in Cody and finished third to total $7,228 for the week; Begay moved up one spot to fourth among headers.
Hanging around on the bubble for the last two months, somewhere between 13th and 16th, tie-down roper Matt Shiozawa is starting to make a move to separate himself from the pack. His shared win at the Wrangler Champions Challenge in Cody, Wyo., along with an outright win in Jasper, Alberta, and a tie for fourth in Hermiston, Ore., lifted him from 14th a week ago to 12th. His total earnings of $9,571 was an event best for the week, beating out Tuf Cooper ($8,849) and Caleb Smidt ($7,638).
Although struggling with injuries for much of the season, Reserve World Champion Bull Rider Joe Frost was able to move back into the top 15 this weekend with a third-place finish at the Wrangler Champions Challenge in Cody and a fourth-place finish in Billings, Mont. That allowed him to move from 16th to 11th in the world standings. Aaron Pass also moved up into the top 15 (from 22nd a week ago) by winning Omak and finishing second in Billings, Mont.
Brazile watch: Steer roping took precedence on this week for 21-time World Champion Trevor Brazile. He won the Yellowstone River Round-Up steer roping in Billings, Mont., and banked another steer roping check in Glendive, Mont. Combined with team roping and tie-down roping checks at the Wrangler Champions Challenge in Cody, Wyo., his all-around total climbed to $178,364 – $80,726 more than second-place Tuf Cooper. Brazile is second among team roping headers, third in steer roping and ninth in tie-down roping. He currently shares the record for most National Finals qualifications (45) with Tee Woolman, and is on pace to add three more.

For more coverage of the Cody Stampede Wrangler Champions Challenge, check out the Aug. 28 issue of the ProRodeo Sports News.


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