December 5-14, 2024


bronc evans steals the show

Dec 21, 2023

bronc evans steals the show

LAS VEGAS – It was only fitting that Bronc Evans got to throw the last loop at the 2023 Junior World Finals.

After all, no contestant at the recently completed rodeo spent more time in the Wrangler Rodeo Arena than did the 12-year-old from Fairview, Missouri.

Evans started his Junior World Finals advancing to the shootout round of the 12-and-under breakaway roping on Dec. 7. The following day Evans finished second in the average in 12-and-under tie-down roping.

Evans’ long drive to Las Vegas with his family – it’s about 1,350 miles from Fairview to Vegas – actually began a week earlier and came with a stopover.

Bronc Evans (left) and Rendon Powledge stand with Brilynn Bentley from Las Vegas Events after winning the Junior World Finals team roping #9.5 division last Saturday. (Photo by Jack Nowlin)

“We left November 25 and went to Arizona,” Evans said. “I spent 10 or 11 days there so my horses could get used to the weather and we turned them out in pens and I did some roping. Then we came out here last week and I calf roped last week and had some luck in that.”

Turns out Evans’ week was just getting started.

He had a three-day break at the Junior World Finals before jumping back in with both loops. In the Open division of the JWF team roping, Evans headed for Rance Winters of Stephenville, Texas, and heeled for Leo Martinez of Lakeside, California. He also pulled double-duty in the #9.5 division, heading for Eli Green of Oakdale, California, and heeling for Rendon Powledge of Grandview, Texas.

“I brought four horses out (to Vegas),” Evans said. “I had one good tie-down horse, one good head horse and one good heel horse. And the other horse does all of the events so he was kind of a back-up. Luckily, all my horses stayed sound so I didn’t have to use my back-up.”

On Dec. 12, Evans and Green won the first round of the #9.5, finishing just ahead of … Evans and Powledge.

It was a common occurrence throughout the week. Evans placed in the top five with every roping partner at least once through the first four rounds and qualified for the short go with all four.

“Coming into this I knew I had some good partners and Whitney always puts on a good roping,” Evans said of event producer Whitney Mitchell. “I knew I had a good chance of winning. I didn’t know exactly that it would go my way because it’s team roping, but it was darn sure a fun week.”

Roping in the Open division first last Saturday, Evans and Winters capped a solid week with a 6.76-second run to place sixth in the short go and second in the average with a five-run time of 46.93 seconds. Evans and Martinez were fifth in the short go and 11th in the average with a 42.56 on three runs.

That set the stage for a dramatic finish in the #9.5 division.

Evans and Powledge entered the short go leading the average, followed by the No. 2 team of … Evans and Green, who would rope just ahead of Evans and Powledge.

Both Evans and Green backed into the box. Evans, wearing a black cowboy hat and a blue checkered shirt, nodded his head and the steer burst out of the gate. Evans threw his loop around the steer’s horns and turned him to the left. Green followed behind, tossed his heel loop at the ground in front of the steer’s back legs, and came up empty.

Their second no-time of the week all but clinched the average win for Evans and Powledge.

After the no-time, Evans rode his head horse to the end of the arena, stepped off, got on his heel horse and rode back down to get ready for his final run of the week.

“We had a steer ahead of me and my other partner so I knew if we caught the cow we won the average,” Evans acknowledged. “I was trying not to get too rattled or too nervous. I didn’t rush it and I took my time. I saw my shot but didn’t overlook it or second-guess it. He turned me a good one and it worked out.”

Evans qualified for the Junior World Finals with both Powledge and Winters as his roping partners. As for Martinez and Green, the JWF was the first time those two combinations had roped together.

“The Junior World just has a list of people to look through and I kind of guessed on (Martinez and Green),” Evans admitted. “I lucked out and drew really good partners.”

Chances are both Martinez and Green felt the same way.

Two Texas cowboys, Conley Kleinhans of Montague and Brant Cookston of Trinidad, won the Open average with a five-run time of 36.65 seconds. Colby Segay of Window Rock, Arizona, and Laramie Martinez of Aztec, New Mexico, were the reserve champs of the #9.5 division.

Steer Wrestling

Jake Holmes of Mulberry, Kansas, doubled his pleasure at the Ote Berry Junior Steer Wrestling competition.

The 17-year-old easily won the 16-and-under division with a five-run time of 23.9 seconds and shared the Open title with Cole Pugh of Jasper, Texas.

“This is a blessing,” Holmes said. “I’ve been working for this all year and all week, and I’m right where I want to be.”

Ote Berry stands between Cole Pugh (left) and Jake Holmes after the two bulldoggers tied for the average championship in the Ote Berry Junior Steer Wrestling open division at the Junior World Finals last weekend. (Photo by Jack Nowlin)

So was Pugh, even though he was in position to win the Open division all by himself until his 6.7-second run – his slowest of the week – in Saturday’s short go-round.

“I really wanted to win this,” he said. “But I came out here last year and didn’t do so well so I just wanted to keep pushing. All week I just tried to stay relaxed in the box and let it all out when you get out of there.”

Colton Wilson of Bertram, Texas, won the short go with a time of 4.2 seconds and finished as the reserve champ in the 16-and-under division.