HARRISBURG, Pa. (January 13, 2011) – Mother Nature let up her battering of the northeastern part of the United States long enough for the weather weary cowboys and cowgirls of the First Frontier Circuit to make their annual trek to Harrisburg for the start of the circuit’s finals.
The three day event kicked off Thursday, Jan. 13 with round one in the arena of the Pennsylvania Farm Show, and saw impressive times and scores go into the books.
First out of the chutes was the bareback bronc riders, with four of the six riders putting up qualifying scores. Winning the round was Terry Owens Jr. of Lexington, North Carolina. Owens rode “Lovely Lexi” of the Painted Pony string for 76 points.
Second and third in the round was split between Clovis Crane of Lebanon, Pa. and JC Smith of Aspers, Pa. Each posted a 74, on Matt Dillon and Two Feathers, both of the All American string, respectively.
Next out was the Steer Wrestling. The best time of the night was 6.1 seconds, split by Bob Sklodowsky of Washington, N.J. and Wayne Stoltzfus of McClure, Pa. The solid time was most important for Stoltzfus, because he is sitting in third in the year-end standing, only about $100 behind Phil Clifford heading into the weekend.
Third place in the steer wrestling was Stoltzfus’s brother, Chad Stoltzfus, of Rising Sun, Md., with a 7.3 second time.
Fourth was John Leinaweaver, of Fayetteville, Pa., who posted a 17 second time (including 10-second speeding ticket). But Leinaweaver wasn’t done for the night.
The team ropers put up good times, led by the 5.2 second time of Darren Morgan and Casey Cox, both of Fort Edward, N.Y.
Jimmy Healy of Lincoln University, Pa. and Shawn Quinn of Schuylersville, N.Y. posted a 5.5 second time early in the round and held on for second place.
Third was a 6.0 second time for David Ballantyne of Elverson, Pa. and Chris Soto of Catlett, Va., followed by Roger Stockton of Ballston Spa, N.Y. and Jason Martindale of Gansevoort, N.Y., at 6.2 secconds.
In Saddle Bronc riding, Chad Alesky of Monroeton, Pa. and David Rubel of Grantville, Pa. split the lead in the round, with 73 points. Alesky, who is sitting in second for the season, rode Lava Mt. of Painted Pony, and Rubel, who came into the weekend in the lead, rode Warbird of the Cowtown string.
Third in Saddle Bronc was Matthew Bartsch, of Warwick, Md., riding Snowtail of the All American string.
Fourth was another split, Shane Kuhn of Morriston, Fla., and AJ Williams of Peach Bottom, Pa. , at 68 points. Kuhn rode Dixie Chick of Painted Pony and Williams conquered Supersport of All American.
A 9.5 second run was enough to take the round in Tie Down Roping for JR Myers of Felton, Pa. The 9.9 second run of Chris Brennan of Ashburnham, Mass., was enough for second place in the round. Darren Morgan, of Fort Edward, N.Y., who came into the weekend in the lead, took third in the round at 10.2 seconds, in his effort to hold of second place Myers, and Cory Clement of Pedricktown, N.J. also slid into the money at 10.4 seconds for fourth place.
When they broke out the barrels, it was all sequins and speed, as the top 12 ladies in the circuit put on a riding clinic with impressive times. Fastest in the round was NIckie Stoltzfus of McClure, Pa., at 14.90 seconds. Kristine Roy of Hagaman, N.Y. was second at 15.08 seconds. At 15.16 seconds and 15.22 seconds respectively, Kristen Weber of Wilmington, Del., and Lisa McCarthy of Cream Ridge, N.J. took third and fourth.
The bull riders wrapped up the evening with 7 of the 12 riders putting scores on the board.
Number one on the night was Dr. Troy Alexander, of Federalsburg, Md., scoring 76 points on Homer, out of Cowtown Rodeo. John Leinaweaver got his second check of the night, taking second in the bull riding with 73 points on Partner of Painted Pony Rodeo. Sharing third and fourth at 71 points was Clovis Crane of Lebanon, Pa. on Big Bucks of Painted Pony Rodeo and Scott Sellers of Pequea, Pa., on Cowtown’s Top Gun. Crane, a three-event competitor (with bareback and saddle bronc) is sitting in the number two in the season standings on the bulls, and Sellers is holding on to the number one spot.
The night also included a memorial tribute to late barrel racer Eileen “Bugsy” Hanna. Hanna, who won round one of the circuit finals last year in Harrisburg, lost her battle with colon cancer in late October. The arena memorial, right before the barrel racing on Thursday night, was a mix of touching tribute and a dash of the humor and spirit that Hanna was known to possess.
Action resumes Friday night with round two at the Farm Show Arena, and wraps up late Saturday afternoon.
©2011 Story and photographs by Mary Rudloff