DUNCAN, Okla. â€“ Robert Etbauer had more influence on a young Dalton Davis than he may have ever known.
â€śRobert Etbauer got me to riding broncs,â€ť Davis said of the two-time world champion from Goodwell, Okla. â€śI was down at his house roping calves, and he convinced me to get on some steers. I really didnâ€™t want to. I was scared of it.â€ť
That fear didnâ€™t last long, and itâ€™s paying off quite well for Davis, a 22-year-old cowboy from Holcomb, Kan. On Thursday night, he posted an 82-point ride on New Frontier Rodeoâ€™s Satin Sheets to win the first round of the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo at the Stephens County Fair and Expo Center.
â€śI got on some and just fell in love immediately,â€ť he said.
That love affair has worked out pretty well. As a permit-holder who utilized his 2014 season as a try-out period for a career in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, Davis earned enough money in the circuit to qualify for this weekâ€™s finale, which features the top 12 contestants in each event from the region made up primarily of Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.
â€śWinning the round means a whole lot to me,â€ť said Davis, who earned $1,130. â€śThis is the peak of our year and gives us a chance to win some money.â€ť
It also opens the door to win the average championship, the honor given to the contestants in each event who finish the three-round event with the best cumulative time or score. Davis has a lead in the average race but will have to maintain that advantage through the final two performances, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
â€śThis just skyrockets your confidence,â€ť said Davis, a senior at Southwestern Oklahoma State University who leads the college standings in the Central Plains Region. â€śYouâ€™re riding against Wade Sundell, whose always at the National Finals and a big threat to win it all; Ty Atchison, whose been to the finals; and Jesse Kirby and Hardy Braden. All those guys ride very well, so to be able to get the round win and have a good start really helps.â€ť
Other first-round winners were bareback rider Caine Riddle, 82 points on New Frontier Rodeoâ€™s Elvis; steer wrestler Stockton Graves (3.8 seconds); team ropers Cole Markham and Tyler Worley (4.9 seconds); tie-down roper Ryan Jarrett (7.5 seconds); barrel racer Gretchen Benbenek (16.00 seconds); and bull rider Sage Kimzey (85 points on New Frontierâ€™s Night Rider).
Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo
Bareback riding: 1. Caine Riddle, 82 points on New Frontier Rodeoâ€™s Sinner, $1,130; 2. (tie) Justin Pollmiller and Brian Leddy, 72, $706 each; 4. Wyatt Clark, 71, $282.
Steer wrestling: 1. Stockton Graves, 3.8 seconds, $1,130; 2. Shane Frey, 4.4, $847; 3. Kyle Irwin, 5.1, $565; 4. Jeff Miller, 5.3, $282.
Team roping: 1. Cale Markham/Tyler Worley, 4.9 seconds, $1,130; 2. Coleman Proctor/Billie Saebens, 5.7, $847; 3. Troy Boone/Dawson McMaster, 6.9, $565; 4. Zac Small/Nick Simmons, 7.0, $282.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Dalton Davis, 82 points on New Frontier Rodeoâ€™s Satin Sheets, $1,130; 2. Ryan Bestol, 73; 3. (tie) Nick Shenold, Andrew Harris and Jesse James Kirby, 72, $282 each.
Tie-down roping: 1. Ryan Jarrett, 7.5 seconds, $1,130; 2. Cody Quaney, 8.6, $847; 3. Perry Dietz, 10.7, $565; 4. Luke Blanton, 11.0, $282.
Barrel racing: 1. Gretchen Benbenek, 16.00 seconds, $1,152; 2. Emily Miller, 16.17, $864; 3. Mary Burger, 16.21, $576; 4. Kyra Stierwalt, 16.22, $288.
Bull riding: 1. Sage Kimzey, 85 points on New Frontier Rodeoâ€™s Night Rider, $1,130; 2. (tie) Sam Wyatt and Lane Wilhelm, 78, $706 each; 4. Chris McCombs, 77, $282.