The 2010 United Rodeo Association Finals in Topeka takes no backseat to production of and competition in the perhaps-better-known National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
Top cowboys and cowgirls from nine states qualified for the URA Finals as culmination of more than 27,000 entries in 124 rodeos throughout the past year.
Fifteen contestants representing each of nine events were introduced at the beginning of each of three finals performances in colorful and inspirational grand entry opening ceremonies.
Several of the yearend champions were not known until the dust had settled from the final go-round on Saturday evening, according to Clint Tatum, URA president of the URA, which was incorporated in 1962.
All-around champion for the year is Derrick Younger of Fort Scott, who collected $13,788 for the year in team roping and tie down roping, tallied Muff McGee, URA secretary. Ryan Spurgin, Eminence, Mo., was runner-up in the all-around race.
Just before opening of the Saturday performance, 2010 URA Queen Rachel Bergren, Villisca, Ia., crowned Jaime Paris as Miss United Rodeo Association 2011.
Announcer Brandon McLagan, Lone Jack, Mo., called the Western action each evening, and Tammy Drimmel of Valley Falls presented the national anthem.
Best livestock in rodeos conducted throughout the year were furnished for the finals by Buffington, Rodeo, Ridgeview, S.D.; C-R McKellips Rode, Raymore, Mo.; Heartland Rodeo, Downing, Mo.; Outlaw Rodeo, Columbia, Mo.; Rite N Gear Rodeo Lucas, Ia.; and Six Crowns Rodeo, Lincoln, Mo.
Judges were Jeremy Cornell, Harrisonville, Mo.; Randy Littrell, Macon, Mo.; and Ron McGee, Yates Center. Rod McGinnis, Waverly, and Mike Flattery, Moravia, Ia., served as pickup men, while John Prom, Ames, Ia., and Brandon Lindsey, Green Castle, Mo., were the bullfighters.
Keeping the crowd on the edge of their seats with humor throughout each evening was renowned rodeo funnyman clown Tuffy Gessling of Springfield, Mo.
Highlight of each performance was a presentation by The Double Trouble Trick Riders from Lexington, Mo. Bethany and Brittany Iles and their horses Honey and King, entertained with help from little sister Libby, and coaching and support from their mom Andrea.
After winning the third go-round with a score of 81 points, Justin Williams, DeSoto, was crowned the yearend bareback riding champion with $6,013. Finals winner was Billy Griffin, Oak Grove, Mo., who won two rounds and was fourth in the third for a total of 235 points, worth $652.
Jason Dreyer, Cambridge, Ia., won the third go-round with a 78, placed second in the average with 227 points worth $530, and was named the yearend saddle bronc riding champion with a total of $8,680. Runner-up for the year was Matt Ory, Winterset, Ia., who was the finals winner with 232 points worth $707, after winning the first two go-rounds and pacing second the last go.
In the bull riding, Jeep Steenhoek, Ia., won the finals with 152 points on two head, worth $816, and was crowned the yearend champion with $8,609. Runner-up for the yearend title with $5,413 was Dalton Cooper, Enterprise, who was second in the finals average with 149 points on two head for $612.
Open calf roping champion was Jess Hinkle, Powersville, Mo., who collected $6,905 for the year. Payden Emmett, Ponac, Ark., came in the finals in 15th place and ended the year in 10th with $2,986, after being third in the second and third go-rounds and tying all three finals calves in 28.6 seconds to collect $816 for the average title.
Old timers still have their place at URA competitions, and they come out in strong force for the forty & over calf roping. Bill Huber, Albia, Ia., topped the second and third go-rounds to win the finals with 25.9 seconds on three for $816 and was named the yearend champion with $6,483.
Another unique event for the URA is breakaway roping open to women and youth with Christy Smith of Clark, Mo., being crowned the yearend winner with $6,869, after placing first in the third go with a 2.5 second run worth $396. Finals champion Brooke Gray, Holt, Mo., was fourth in the first and second go-rounds with three head roped in 9.7 seconds to win $816.
Lindsay Leverington, Troy, Mo., won the third go-round in 14.17 seconds to collect $528, and was crowned the yearend barrel racing champion with $8,282. Finals winner was Sandy Hobbs, Warrensburg, Mo., who ran three rounds in 42.614 seconds worth $816, after winning the first go, and placing second in the second and third go-rounds; she was sixth for the year with $4,963.
Steer wrestling champion for the year is Wes Huff of Moravia, Ia., who was second in the second and third go-rounds of the finals and ended the year with $5,626. Chancey Larson, Manhattan, won the first and second go-rounds en route to being the average winner in 14.9 seconds, worth $816, and he was sixth on the yearend list with $3,846.
Jason Jennings was the yearend champion team roping header with $7,579, while Derrick Younger collected the heeler championship with $9,395. Wayne Knutson and Gerry Lisby roped and stretched three head in 18.7 seconds to be the finals winners worth $816 each.