Ireland's quest for third circuit title builds steam
Pretty Prairie, Kan. -- As a two-time Ram Prairie Circuit Champion, Weston Ireland has conquered some tough saddle bronc horses over the years.
But he still has a humble reaction when he gets a good score.
"I was lucky to get by him," Ireland said of Beutler and Son's Red Man. "He's a good horse. He just bucked hard."
While Ireland called it luck, there was also some skill involved. Enough to earn Ireland an 80-point score to move to the lead of the saddle bronc riding at the 75th annual Kansas Largest Night Rodeo in Pretty Prairie, with only one performance remaining. Ireland, who bought his Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association permit in 2004 and his card in 2005, has proven to be a force in the PRCA's Prairie Circuit ever since. A consistent fixture at the Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, Ireland, Sallisaw, Okla., won the circuit title in 2006 and 2007. The Prairie Circuit includes rodeos in Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska.
He's presently ranked third in circuit standings, and if he remains in the top spot at the conclusion of the Pretty Prairie rodeo on Saturday, his odds of reclaiming the circuit title are greatly increased. Ireland also rode at Woodward, Okla., earlier in the week.
"As of now, I'm placing there, but we'll have to see where things stand at the end of the week," said Ireland.
The Oklahoma cowboy will be hitting the rodeo trail hard in the near future, as will many of his competitors. Keeping that in mind, he said the standings today may see some significant changes soon.
"It's still pretty early in the season, and it's fixing to pick up. You'll see a lot of changes (in the standings), I'm sure," he said.
Within the next two weeks, Ireland is entered up at Burwell and Wahoo, Neb., and Manhattan and Hardtner, Kan., followed by more Kansas rodeos in Dodge City and Phillipsburg. Ireland knows he has his work cut out for him at those rodeos, as he feels his competition will be fierce.
"There's more bronc riders going now than there has been for a while, and they are all good and all competitive," he said. "I haven't really researched it, but it may be tougher than it's ever been in history." Ireland was the only contestant to emerge as an out-right leader after Friday's performance, but there is now a tie for first in the team roping. Gage Blair, Andover, Kan., and Ty Bryant, Abilene, Kan., completed a 6.2-second run on Friday to share the lead with Brian Dunning, McClave, Colo., and Jesse Jolly, Agate, Colo., who roped on Thursday evening.
The rodeo concludes Saturday, with the performance starting at 8 p.m.
Friday night results:
Bareback riding: 1. Brian Leddy, Roll, Okla., 80; 2. Scotty NeSmith, Morristown, Tenn., 79
Steer wrestling: 1. Justin Smith, Castle, Okla., 4.5; 2. Colt Stearns, Freedom, Okla., 5.1; 3. Lance Volker, Auburn, Neb., 5.4; 4. Chad Van Campen, Granada, Colo., 7.2
Team roping: 1. Gage Blair, Andover, Kan., and Ty Bryant, Abilene, Kan., 6.2; 2. Cale Markham, Vinita, Okla., and Casey Stipes, Salina, Okla., 6.7; 3. Shane McLemore, Gracemont, Okla, and Darrel Radacy, Lookeba, Okla., 7.3; 4. Jordan Sanders, Odessa, Mo., and J.D. Holland, Manhattan, Kan., 8.0
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Weston Ireland, Sallisaw, Okla., 80; 2. Dalton Davis, Holcomb, Kan., 72; 3. Cody Hamm, Minneapolis, Kan., 67; 4. Travis Edwards, Perth, Australia, 65
Tie-down roping: 1. Roger Branch, Perkins, Okla., 10.6; 2. Chris Demasas, Boyd, Texas, 11.1; 3. Cody McCartney, Temperance, Mich., 11.3; 4. Ryan Bothum, Caddo, Okla., 12.2
Barrel racing: 1. Andrea Wolf, Decatur, Texas, 17.27; 2. Mary Burger, Pauls Valley, Okla., 17.40; 3. Shelby Frasier-Mack, Benkelman, Neb., 17.56; 4. Bonnie Baughman, Kismet, Kan., 17.62
Bull riding: No qualified rides
Bareback riding: 1. Tom McFarland, Bowie, Texas, 88; 2. Caine Riddle, Vernon, Texas, 84; 3. Evan Jayne, Marseille, France, 83; 4. Brian Leddy, Roll, Okla., 80
Steer wrestling: 1. Trell Etbauer, Gruver, Texas, 3.8; 2. Tommy Cook, McAlester, Okla., 4.1; 3. (tie) Clay Mindeman, Salina, Okla., and Justin Smith, Castle, Okla., 4.5
Team roping: 1. (tie) Brian Dunning, McClave, Colo., and Jesse Jolly, Agate, Colo.; and Gage Blair, Andover, Kan., and Ty Bryant, Abilene, Kan., and 6.2; 3. Cale Markham, Vinita, Okla., and Casey Stipes, Salina, Okla., 6.7; 4. Shane McLemore, Gracemont, Okla, and Darrel Radacy, Lookeba, Okla., 7.3
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Weston Ireland, Sallisaw, Okla., 80; 2. Jade Blackwell, Rapid City, S.D., 79; 3. Justin Browning, Sulphur, La., 77; 4. Hardy Braden, Welch, Okla., 75
Tie-down roping: 1. Tyler Garten, Kingman, Kan., 9.9; 2. Jeff Miller, Blue Mound, 10.3; 3. Roger Branch, Perkins, Okla., 10.6; 4. Trell Etbauer, Gruver, Texas, 10.9
Barrel racing: 1. Sherri Dean, Liberal, Kan., 17.12; 2. Andrea Wolf, Decatur, Texas, 17.27; 3. Jessica Leach, Rockwell, Neb., 17.35; 4. Jeanne Anderson, White City, 17.37
Bull riding: 1. Ross Burney, Coffeeville, Miss., 80; 2. Corey Navarre, Weatherford, Okla., 77