RED DEER, Alberta — The end of a rodeo season brings with it a big sigh of relief for some, and feelings of disappointment for others. But the stage is now set for those advancing to the season end playoffs, when the year’s long efforts can be turned into profit in an instant.
They’ve been celebrating in the Frank family, after both brothers Dallas and Derek managed to slide into home base and secure the 10th and 12th place qualifications in one of the tightest battles in all of rodeo. The Grass Roots Finals made all the difference for the siblings searching for success.
Dallas Frank won the second round in Calgary in 3.6 seconds, followed by Curtis Cassidy at 3.7. Then Derek Frank and Cody Cassidy split third at fourth, with matching times of 3.8. That gave Derek second in the average ($2,188), while Dallas split third ($2,344).
“It’s actually kind of been funny this year,” said Derek Frank. “When one of us goes out there and throws one fast, the next guy would bounce right back and throw one fast too.”
Dallas edged ahead by tossing in a fourth place cheque from Hanna, but Derek had won enough to slip past Layne Delemont by a mere $22.62, keeping the Chauvin cowboy from his first CFR.
“We kind of knew, but you never really know until they add it all up, when it’s that close. I dang sure wasn’t calling friends until I’d seen it on the website!” Frank remarked. “Layne’s a good friend too, so it’s tough that way. It’s the most (money) it’s taken, ever, to make the Finals. When you have fifteen or sixteen thousand won, your family can usually buy hotel rooms for the Finals. This year was crazy – there’s six guys that had over $15,000 and aren’t going to get to go to the Finals.”
While this will be the fifth CFR appearance for Dallas, it’s just the second time Derek has been to the showdown. The Franks will join the Cassidy duo in the bulldogging world of brotherly love and competition.
“We’ve been rodeoing together since 2011, my rookie year,” said Derek Frank. “But it’s the first time we’ll get to go there together. Dallas has been there with (brother) Travis before.”
“We feed off each other. It’s good to have somebody from home with you there that’s 100 per cent behind you no matter what.
Dallas is the oldest of the four Frank brothers while Derek is the youngest.
“He always jokes he’s getting too old to wait. We’ve got to get there sooner or later together because he says he doesn’t have many years left,” chuckled Derek, who at 29 is a decade behind Dallas in age.
“It’s a fail for the year if we don’t make the CFR, in my opinion, so to get there together is definitely a goal at the start of the year. We talked before the start of the Grass Roots that it would be nice if we each won $2500 out of here, and both get to the Finals. To actually get it done was pretty cool. It worked out pretty good.”
Meantime, Curtis Cassidy was able to close out the regular season and cap off thousands of miles by finishing number one for the world, with earnings of $106,009. While that’s a huge accomplishment, he was also relieved to not miss out the first trip to Red Deer in that event. It took a late season surge to make that a certainty, including wins at Olds, Brooks, and then the average at the Grass Roots Final.
“I was really sweating, because obviously if you’re number one in the world, you want to compete at the Canadian Finals. I was way, way out, looking in. I was basically already writing myself off. I can’t even tell you why or what happened,” admitted Cassidy. “I guess the right steers in the right places.”
Cassidy also managed to be among the top twelve in the tie-down roping, thanks again, to his September turnaround. It will be the 13th time he’s competed in both events, as he hunts for a tenth High Point honor.
“This year, being in Red Deer, is going to be a pretty cool experience, to be there in two events. The CFR’s never been any place other Edmonton. I think I’ve been to just about half of the CFR’s in Edmonton. I think it’s going to be a new and cool experience all the way around.”
The only family act shut out of this year’s Red Deer steer wrestling festivities was the Butterfield clan, with cousins Brock and Chance finishing 15th and 16th. However, Derek Frank has been using Brock’s horse Brim, and Dallas has used him some as well. Scott Guenthner finishes as season leader with $38,714.
Emotions were on a roller-coaster for Jeremy Buhler, a usually even-keeled guy. The heeler who’d had an extra-long stay in the U.S. this late spring, had some ground to make up if he wanted to join his long-time partner Levi Simpson in defending their Canadian championship. With placings from Olds and Brooks in September, Buhler had his hands on a qualification, and was counting on the Grass Roots Finals for has last big push. However, it slipped through his grasp when their loops came up empty there, and Riley Wilson and Wyatt Eirikson pushed past him in the race to the finish line. It came down to one last steer, at Hanna. Buhler and Simpson were in their world championship form when the chips were down, getting that steer snagged in 4.9 seconds to finish second behind the season’s speed sensations, Tristin Woolsey and Denver Johnson. The $823 cheque was the turning point, and Buhler will be back for his 7th CFR, finishing tenth overall. Woolsey and Denver blew the doors off the season, with Woolsey’s season total setting a new high at $31,138, while Johnson finished on top with $28,131.
While Trevor Brazile finished the season in the number one position among tie-down ropers in Canada, he won’t be competing at Edmonton because he didn’t make his required fifteen rodeo count. So Riley Warren leads the charge going in to the CFR, with $46,754. He also made it in the team roping as a heeler, and is number one for the High Point standings. Warren, Cassidy and Jesse Popescul will all be running at two paycheques a night. Popescul rocketed from 13th to 8th place in the standings, roping his way to second in the team roping average at the Grass Roots. Unfortunately, his partner there, Wyatt Eirikson wound up in the crying hole for heelers, by less than $200. And it was Murray Pole finishing in the dreaded #13 position for tie-down, in another close finish. He was just $584 behind Erik Dublanko, who wound up twelfth.
Still with the timed events, there wasn’t a lot of drama at the bottom end of the barrel racing standings, which saw Rene Leclercq hang on to the final qualification spot she’d secured by winning Brooks, leaving Renee Rae Willis looking to next year. Defending champion Carman Pozzobon was the runaway leader for most of the season and finishes with a $12,745 cushion over the youngster Taylor Manning, in second place. Texan Angela Ganter moved up the ranks with her Grass Roots win, while Callahan Crossley of Oregon close behind her there, and also the Hanna winner.
The Roughest Necks Around
Justin Berg was the man on the move in the saddle bronc riding, jetting from 15th to 11th by placing in both rounds and taking the Grass Roots average, to earn his eighth CFR appearance. Dawson Hay won a go-round at Calgary and tied for second at Hanna, which gave him enough to secure the Rookie of the Year title, in a year of rock star competition with nine of the top ten rookies in Canada making the CFR. Clay Elliott got the season leader award, with his tally of $40,850.
Richmond Champion parlayed a successful year of bareback riding north of the border into the number one position in Canada for the year, with a total of $41,134 earned. Bashaw cowboy Jacob Stemo made his final weekend count, taking the Grass Roots average and placing at Hanna to give himself enough to move from 13th to 11th, pushing back defending champion Seth Hardwick to the final number 12 position. It was Pascal Isabelle left on the outside of the CFR roster this time, by $1200.
Jared Parsonage had to sit out some of the summer with a broken foot, but when he returned, he came back strong, finishing out the year on a roll, sweeping the Grass Roots average and sharing first with Nick Tetz at Hanna to claim the number one spot for Canada, with $37,581. The Hanna split was significant for 18-year-old Tetz, because it gave him enough to nail down the final qualifying spot, while fellow rookie Austin Nash claimed enough cash at Calgary to also move up the ranks and book his ticket for Red Deer. All-Around contender Jacob Gardner is the man left in the cold. It’s fellow bull rider/bulldogger Luke Gee of Montana who will claim the All-Around trophy buckle in that case, as he earned more than Gardner and the only other qualifier Ty Ellis, who competes in the same two events as well.
Las Vegas Bound
It’s lucky number six for Canada when it comes to Vegas odds. A half dozen maple leafs will be flying at the Thomas and Mack during the nightly National Finals Rodeo contestant entry this year. Curtis Cassidy will be leading the charge, with his number one finish in the steer wrestling for the regular season, a feat he also accomplished in 2010. Joining him, and finishing the season in third place is Scott Guenthner $92,325, heading to his second straight NFR. Bareback rider Orin Larsen really turned on the jets in the last half of the year, rounding out the run by finishing fourth with $130,655. The bareback riding community has been shaken by the serious back injury to JR Vezain, which will keep him from taking his earned spot at the NFR. That nearly gave his good friend Clint Laye a chance to be there, but veteran Will Lowe made some significant gains in the last week, to surge in front, leaving Laye in 17th with $68,638. Ty Taypotat finished 20th with $59,636. Luke Creasy was 22nd, with Jake Vold 23rd.
Zeke Thurston enters Las Vegas with $112,637 in his rodeo account for his bronc riding efforts this season, in fifth place. His good friend and team roping partner Clay Elliott isn’t far behind, in seventh, with $104,176. Rounding out the Canuck crew is barrel racer Carman Pozzobon, the only NFR newcomer of the crew. The BC barrel racer finishes in 14th place, with earnings of $86,947. Team roping header Kolton Schmidt came close, but wound up in 19th spot, with his tally of $59,347.
Excitement is already building in Red Deer, as the city gets ready to welcome pro rodeo’s finest to the Enmax Centrium. An official kickoff event is in the works for October 16th. Entertainers for the nightly celebrations next door are being announced, while the go-round buckles will be presented in a special program after each performance at Westerner Park. The first of the six performances goes October 30th, with back numbers presented to contestants the night before.