LYNDEN - Whatcom County rodeo fans were treated to some of the best the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association has to offer during night one of the Lynden PRCA Rodeo on Friday, Aug. 23, at the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds in Lynden.
A stacked lineup of top caliber cowboys and cowgirls posted strong scores and times. If that wasn't enough, fans were entertained by 2012 PRCA Rodeo Clown of the Year Justin Rumford.
When the final bull of the night bucked off the last cowboy, one arena record was tied and two others were nearly eclipsed during bareback riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, team roping, barrel racing and bull riding.
Wagoner, Okla., cowboy Blake Deckard put together the best overall night by teaming up with team roping partner Trey Johnson to match an arena record of 4.5 seconds and also finished second in tie-down roping with a time of 8.3 seconds.
Veteran bareback rider Ryan Gray got the night started by showing Lynden why he's ranked No. 1 in his event.
The home-state rider from Cheney rode a horse named Dakota Twist and ended with 89 points, which fell two points short of the arena record.
"I didn't really know the horse until I got here," Gray said. "I was in the area. We were in Bremerton last night. I was kind of hoping to win and do well. The horse was good, and I felt like I made a good ride. It worked out well."
Gray, a seven-time National Finals Rodeo competitor, is in the midst of a bounce-back year after missing NFR in 2012. He finished just outside the top 15 cowboys who qualify for NFR. He placed 17th.
This season has been a completely different story.
He's won eight rodeos from Texas over to Arizona and up to Idaho and hopes Lynden will spawn win No. 9 after Saturday night's action.
"I've been determined this year to just kind of stay the pace, keep the momentum and keep riding good and keep improving every week," he said. "Last year I had an off year, didn't draw good and just had a bad year when I didn't make the finals. So I'm kind of using that for drive this year."
Another cowboy, maybe not enjoying as strong of an overall year as Gray, but who looking to bounce back, is Highmore, S.D., bulldogger Jake Rinehart.
After watching 11 steer wrestlers before him, Rinehart used his massive 6-foot-8 frame to dismount from his horse and maneuver his steer to the ground in an event-winning time of 3.5 seconds. He was 0.1 seconds shy of the arena record.
"I had that steer in Union (Ore.) earlier this spring," he said. "I knew the steer. It was good then. I didn't have nearly as much luck with him, but I was far enough down to see what the start was and I knew I could take a roll at it, because it was a one hander. I come out smelling like a rose, I guess so far."
Seth Brockman took second place with a 3.9-second go-round, and B.J. Campbell was third with a 4.0.
Other winners included Blair Burk in tie-down roping with a 7.6-second mark, Ryan MacKenzie in saddle bronc riding with a score of 82 and 14-time NFR qualifier Sherry Cervi in barrel racing with a time of 16.43. The only somewhat disappointing event of the night was the feature event - bull riding.
Only one rider, Parker Breding, lasted the eight seconds needed for a score. His earned a score of 71.
Lynden rodeo fans were also treated to No. 1-ranked bull rider J.W. Harris, although he didn't post a qualifying time, and 17-time champion Trevor Brazile, who competed in both tie-down roping and team roping. He placed fourth in tie-down roping with a time of 9.6 seconds.
The final night of rodeo action begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, at the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862.
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.