ELLENSBURG — Isaac Diaz scored 90 points in Sunday’s saddle bronc performance, Sage Kimzey is once again threatening for another bull riding average and the top 12 from the weekend all come back for today’s finale at the Ellensburg Rodeo.
Up for grabs is short round money, but the biggest prize is the lucrative average payout for each event winner.
Diaz went for 90 on Big Bend’s Feather Fluffer to win saddle bronc’s first round for $3,649. It was a bronc every one of his traveling partners have covered in the recent past, but Diaz’s dance with the bronc not only helped him win the round, but also gives him a three-point advantage over Ryder Wright and Jake Watson heading into today’s short round.
On the flip side, it’s going to be a nail biter of a round in today’s steer wrestling. Bulldogger Jule Hazen turfed his Sunday steer in 4.3 seconds, which won’t win him go-round money, but it did put him No. 1 in the average with an 8.2 on two runs. He leads Tucker Allen by a tenth of a second and Justin Kimsey by two-tenths.
Another Kimzey — this one with a Z — rode Big Bend’s Insane Hurricane for 84.5 points and a small first round check. Sage Kimzey won more than $21,000 on his way to winning his third straight Xtreme Bulls title on Saturday night, but he’ll have to jump sixth bull riders to take home the bullriding average crown today.
Barrel racer Stevi Hillman is looking at a similar scenario. The Texas cowgirl and her horse ran around the barrels in 17.27 seconds to win second place and $2,188 in the second round. Her 35.06 is fifth in the average as everyone is chasing Destri Devenport this week. Devenport won both the first and second rounds.
“All these horses, there’s so many nice horses, it’s anybody’s game any day,” she said. “I’m super excited for Destri, she’s worked hard and she’s done really well with her horse.”
Cooper Martin needs to do well in today’s finals. The Kansas tie-down roper didn’t win go-round money on Sunday, but he’s sixth in the average with an 18.3-second aggregate on two runs. This is his second straight year in Ellensburg’s finals.
“Last year I came back I think in the same position and ended up missing in the short go,” he remembered. “I’ve always wound up placing in the rounds.”
Martin did place in the first round and the consistent year has paid dividends for the cowboy ranked 10th in the world standings.
“This has probably been the best year I’ve ever had,” he said. “I’ve stayed in the top 15 since the year started. It’s been a good year. I had a really good 4th of July and it’s been slow and steady since then.”
Sunday’s group of bareback riders failed to supplant Clayton Biglow and his 87.5 from top billing, but a handful of them made it into the final round today.
Two former world champions — three-time champ Will Lowe and 2015 buckle winner Steven Peebles — covered both their horses but were out of the top 12 scores. Both Lowe (19th) and Peebles (18th) are pushing for an NFR bid but are more than $10,000 out of the top 15 needed to get there.
Dustin Egusquiza/Jake Long and Tanner Green/Jake Clay will go into the team roping final round in a tie for first with 10.8-second averages. Both teams ran on Sunday, with Egusquiza/Long picking up a split for eighth place and $143.
Monday’s short round begins with the 11:45 a.m. Grand Entry.