Friday, August 24, 2007

Rodeo news & notes

An item in ESPN The Magazine about the number of athletes over 40 years old still competing in professional sports ignored rodeo, which seemed odd given that rodeo has the highest number of “seasoned” athletes of them all. Just counting the rodeo athletes who are in the top 50 of their event in the world standings, there are 63 over the age of 40 – that’s 63 out of 400, or about 16 percent. These range from the newly minted 40-year-olds like tie-down roper Shane Schwenke to 2006 world champion barrel racer Mary Burger, who turns 59 on August 18.

The PGA had the most 40-somethings in the research done by ESPN with 46, followed by the LPGA (31), Pro Bowlers Association (24), Major League Baseball (21), NASCAR (15), NFL (4), NHL (3) and NBA (2). And rodeo doesn’t just have the edge here on raw numbers. There are 25 rodeo athletes over the age of 40 in the top 20 of the world standings and 17 of them are in the top 10, including past world champions Mike Beers, Walt Woodard, Tee Woolman, Rich Skelton, Jake Barnes, Allen Bach, Clay O’Brien Cooper, Guy Allen and Buster Record Jr. Team roping and barrel racing are the events where longevity is greatest with eight of top 20 in each event coming from the 40-and-over crowd. There are only two top 20 roughtstock cowboys in the age group, saddle bronc riders Ryan Mapston (42) and five time world champion Billy Etbauer (44)….Dan Mortensen’s first trip to Australia can be counted as a success on a number of levels. Not only did the six-time world saddle bronc champion finish second in the average at the Mt. Isa rodeo to Mavryn Remfrey, but Mortensen partnered with former PRCA rider Adam Newman to stage a saddle bronc school in New South Wales and also got in a week of hunting and fishing….Living up to a promise he made to his Ranger (Texas) College team when it won the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association championship, former world champion Tom Reeves will briefly come out of retirement and compete in the saddle bronc event at Ashland, Mo., Aug. 25….

By moving the Pendleton Round-Up and Happy Canyon Hall of Fame, the rodeo committee in Pendleton, Ore., has been able to expand its Let ‘er Buck hospitality room under the south grandstand. Construction will be completed by early September, in time for the 98th Pendleton Round-Up…..A film crew is at the Oklahoma State Prison Rodeo in Taft this weekend, working on a documentary on the largest prison rodeo in America, to be called “Behind the Walls Rodeo.”

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