WACO, Texas - Seven cowboys made history on Oct. 11 as inaugural Heartland ProRodeo Series champions were crowned at the Heart O' Texas Fair Complex.
Dave Worsfold (bareback riding), Stran Smith (tie-down roping), Rodney Burks (steer wrestling), Kobyn Williams (saddle bronc riding), Bubba Bohac (team roping – heading), Twister Cain (team roping – heeling) and Bobby Welsh (bull riding) have forever bragging rights as the first cowboys to wear Heartland ProRodeo Series overall champion buckles in the year-long series and end-of-season championships created to support Heartland rodeos - those with prize money less than $30,000.
Williams, of DeBerry, Texas, won the most money he has ever won in his career at the Heartland ProRodeo Championships, held Oct. 3-11. He scored 67 points on Rafter G Rodeo’s Billings and won the title after he ended up as the lone saddle bronc rider in the final four to post a qualified ride.
“It hasn’t really hit me yet,” Williams said. “It’s just amazing. I just barely slipped into the finals. It just surprises me. I just kept chipping away and here I am holding the gold buckle.”
Excitement was in the air as the nine-performance competition wrapped up. The rodeo began with 30 contestants in pool play, and the field was trimmed down to a do-or-die final four extravaganza.
The total purse of $482,500 was among the compelling storylines of the Heartland ProRodeo Championships.
“Winning is a good shot in the arm this time of year,” said Stran Smith of Childress, Texas, who won the tie-down roping title. “To win a check like that, you have to win a major rodeo and do really well. So (to win) that $7,500 at the end of night, you’d have to be at a Dallas, Omaha (Neb.) or a Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.”
Smith, who won the four-man final round with a time of 8.3 seconds, is among those mathematically qualified for the Wrangler NFR.
“Waco has always been great to me,” Smith said. “I’ve won a lot of stuff here. I made the (Wrangler National) Finals from here once. I won an eight-man match here. I won the Texas Circuit all-around and calf roping here once. This has been a good spot for me.”
The playoff, clean-slate format that began with the challenge round on Oct. 9 also created buzz. The field was trimmed from 12 to 10 to eight and finally four, which meant that winners were announced and buckles were awarded on three consecutive nights.
“I love this format,” said ProRodeo Hall of Fame announcer Hadley Barrett, who was behind the microphone at the Heartland ProRodeo Championships with 10-time PRCA announcer of the year Randy Corley.
Fans were able to see world champions, such as reigning World Champion All-Around Cowboy and World Champion Tie-Down Roper Trevor Brazile, eight-time World Champion Fred Whitfield, and reigning Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo All-Around Champion Kyle Whitaker, along with circuit and Heartland cowboys.
Bareback rider to have surgery
Bareback rider Evan Jayne, who was injured when he was bucked off during competition on Oct. 10, fractured his thoracic vertebra (T9) and was scheduled to have back surgery on Oct. 12 in Waco, Texas. Justin SportsMedicine Executive Director Don Andrews said the surgery is intended to stabilize the fracture, and if the procedure goes as intended, Jayne could be released in a couple of days.
“He should be quite mobile (once he recovers),” Andrews said. “We expect a full recovery, and he will be riding broncs again.”
Jayne, a native of Marseille, France, now lives in Huntsville, Texas. He was 27th in the Oct. 6 Crusher Rentals PRCA World Standings with $35,748 in earnings prior to the Heartland ProRodeo Championships.
Results from the Heartland final four held Oct. 11, 2008
Bareback riding – 1. Dave Worsfold, 89 points on Classic Pro Rodeo’s Goodtime Charlie, $7,500; 2. Caleb Bennett, 88, $5,000; 3. Silas Richards, 83; 4. Matt Bright, 73.
Tie-down roping - 1. Stran Smith, 8.3 seconds, $7,500; 2. Kody Curry, 9.7, $5,000; 3. Cimarron Boardman, 19.2; 4. Scott Kormos, NT.
Steer wrestling – (tie) 1. Rodney Burks and Zack Cobb, 3.7 seconds, $6,250 each; 3. Gary Daniel, 4.8; 4. Chad Van Campen, 13.4. *Burks won the tiebreaker thanks to his 4.2-second run in the eight-man round on Oct. 11.
Saddle bronc riding - 1. Kobyn Williams, 67 points on Rafter G Rodeo’s Billings, $7,500; no other qualified rides.
Team roping - 1. Bubba/Bohac/Twister Cain, 5.7 seconds, $7,500 each; 2. Nick Sartain/Mickey Gomez, 6.6, $5,000; 3. Joel Bach/Wes Goodrich, 20.9; 4. Casey Gattis/Seth Smithson, NT.
Bull riding – 1. J.W. Harris*; no qualified rides.
*Harris wins by virtue of finishing first in the semifinals. **Harris did not compete in 30 Heartland ProRodeo Series rodeos, so the overall championship prizes and title went to Bobby Welsh, who finished second to Harris in the eight-man round.
Results from the round of eight who competed in Saturday’s Heartland Championships
Bareback riding: 1. Dave Worsfold, 86 points on Andrews Rodeo’s Power Play, $1,500; 2. Caleb Bennett, 85, $1,250; 3. (tie) Silas Richards and Matt Bright, 83, $875 each; 5. Dennis Foyil, 82; 6. Jessy Davis, 81; 7. (tie) Wes Stevenson and Tim Shirley, 80.
Tie-down roping: 1. (tie) Scott Kormos and Kody Curry, 9.0 seconds, $1,375 each; 3. Stran Smith, 9.4, $1,000; 4. (tie) Cimarron Boardman and Fred Whitfield, 9.9, $375 each; 6. Matt Kenney, 10.3; 7. Doug Pharr, 11.2; 8. Justin Maass, NT.
Steer wrestling: 1. Chad Van Campen, 3.7 seconds, $1,500; 2. Gary Daniel, 4.1, $1,250; 3. Rodney Burks, 4.2, $1,000; 4. Zack Cobb, 4.3, $750; 5. Spud Duvall, 4.6; 6. Joey Bell Jr., 4.8; 7. Kyle Whitaker, 5.2; 8. Cale Emmett, 13.6.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Marty Hebb, 80 points, $1,500; 2. (tie) Curtis Garton and Jake Griffin, 78, $1,125 each; 4. Kobyn Williams, 75, $750; 5. Brody Bolton, 72; 6. Lyle Welling, 69; 7. (tie) Clayton Zibell and Leland Wood, NS.
Team roping: 1. Nick Sartain/Mickey Gomez, 4.9 seconds, $1,500 each; 2. Bubba Bohac/Twister Cain, 6.3, $1,250; 3. Casey Gattis/Seth Smithson, 6.6, $1,000; 4. Joel Bach/Wes Goodrich, 7.0, $750; 5. Robert Pixley/Tyler McKnight, 8.3; 6. Chance Kelton/Boogie Ray, 10.2; 7. Justin Lovell/Colby Lovell, 20.3; 8. Caleb Mitchell/Kipp Harrell, 27.3.
Bull riding: 1. J.W. Harris, 86 points on Rafter G Rodeo’s Big D, $1,500; 2. Bobby Welsh, 72, $1,250; 3. Josh Barentine*, NS; Clay Lewis*, NS; Bandy Murphy, Logan Allen, Jay Morrow and Tylor Wojciechowski did not post qualified rides.
*Advanced to the final four by virtue of tie-breakers.
The PRCA, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., is the largest and oldest rodeo-sanctioning body in the world. The recognized leader in professional rodeo, the PRCA is committed to maintaining the highest standards.
The PRCA, a membership-based organization, sanctions more than 650 rodeos annually, which draws 24 million attendees. The PRCA showcases the world’s best cowboys in premier events through the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour and its subsequent Ariat Playoffs series events, Dodge Xtreme Bulls, the PRCA’s world-championship bull riding tour; and the world-renowned Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Action from PRCA-sanctioned rodeos and its premier events appears on Fox Sports, CBS, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.
Each year, PRCA-sanctioned rodeos raise more than $26 million for local and national charities.