'Little horse' Gold Dust closes rodeo with big ride

George Gillespie gets a wild ride from Gold Dust in the final bareback go Sunday to give him the top score.



George Gillespie gets some bareback bounce en route to a score of 85 and the bareback win Sunday night at the rodeo finals.


Taking his victory lap in the back of a pickup truck, George Gillespie gets a feather in his cap with a score of 85 and a win in the bareback competition at Sunday night's rodeo finals.


Cheney cowboy Ryan Gray and his bareback ride kick up their heels for a score of 81 during competition Sunday night at the rodeo finals in the Walla Walla Fairground's main arena.


The Walla Walla Fair board waves to the grandstand crowd from an antique truck circling the main arena Sunday night at the rodeo finals. Rodeo organizer and board member Dick Moeller (far right) was honored for his years of being in charge of the rodeo with a second lap and tribute.


George Gillespie loses his hat and a feather in the brim en route to a score of 85 and the bareback win Sunday night at the rodeo finals.


A young mutton buster gets mutton busted and eats dirt just prior to the start of the Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days Rodeo Finals Sunday night at the main arena.


A mutton buster busts some dirt.

WALLA WALLA - Sometimes it is the last two seconds of an eight-second ride that are the longest.

California cowboy George Gillespie was in control of his bareback ride for six seconds here Sunday in the concluding go of the 2011 Frontier Days Rodeo.

The last two seconds, the horse Gold Dust leaned Gillespie off center, but Gillespie held on to the whistle and came away with the best bareback ride of the rodeo as he and Gold Dust posted an 85. Gillespie's 85 replaced No. 5-ranked Steven Peebles' Friday ride of 83 as top bareback ride.

Gillespie was the last rider out on Sunday and followed the No. 9-ranked Cody DeMers' 82 ride, and he drew Gold Dust. Gold Dust had posted an 87 in her last time out in Canby, Ore.

"For a little horse, she really gets up there," Gillespie said. "It's a lot of drop to your rigging. You've really got to focus on staying back and driving your hips, or otherwise she'll just bring you right over the front, but she's fun to ride and the one you want to have if you do things right."

For six seconds, Gillespie's $2,522.25 paycheck looked to be in the bank, but you've got to go to the whistle.

"Things were going great for about six," Gillespie said. "She sends your feet up and I was focusing on getting them back. Towards the end I got lazy thinking I was doing well, and I let them (my feet) come a little further. That was a mistake because she got a little ahead of me. Then I just had to keep going at her."

The top-ranked steer wrestler, Luke Branquinho, did not disappoint on Sunday night. Branquinho wrestled his steer to the ground in 3.8 seconds to take over the second-go lead from Dru Melvin who had posted a 4.1 in the slack round on Tuesday.

Branquinho's time didn't stand up for long. Oklahoma's Stockton Graves got his run completed in a rodeo best 3.5 seconds to take the second-go purse of $1,547.39.

"I was 3.1 at Henderson, Texas," Graves said of his fastest run. "You have to have a lot of cooperation from the horse and steer (to get a 3.5)."

Graves' Sunday run, coupled with his 4.6 first run, gave him the 2011 steer wrestling championship with an aggregate of 8.1 and an additional check for $1,547.39.

Graves came into Walla Walla ranked 18th with a top 15 finish earning an automatic bid to the National Finals in Las Vegas. Graves hopes that his total purse of $3,094.78 will start a push toward that 15th spot.

"I was needing that (payday)," Graves said. "It's been kind of dry these last couple of weeks, and maybe Walla Walla will turn it around for me. It (Walla Walla) has always been good to me. It's my second time to win Walla Walla and I always love coming here."

Two barrier penalties and two no-times followed the first roper out in Sunday's go of tie-down roping. That first roper, Texan Landon McClaugherty, was successful and got his calf roped and tied in 10.0 seconds. McClaugherty's time stood up as the best of the Sunday go.

McClaugherty's run earned him Sunday go money, but was not quick enough to supplant the second-go 8.1 time turned in by both Scott Kormos and Ace Slone. Kormos and Slone took home $1,497.91 each as second-go winners.

The championship of the 2011 tie-down roping went to Matt Shiozawa, who led the aggregate with 17.7 on two head. Shiozawa, who was second with a 8.2 in the first go, picked up a total of $2,995.82 for his tie-down efforts.

Top-ranked Cody Wright scored 82 in saddle bronc riding Friday. Pendleton's Ben Londo tied Wright with an 82 on Saturday, and no one could dislodge those cowboys during Sunday's saddle bronc go. A South Dakota cowboy had the best ride Sunday, but Cody Taton's 78 only moved him into a fifth-place tie and earned him a check for $538.64. Wright and Londo both took home $2,379.03 for being co-champion saddle bronc riders.

Cousins from Ellensburg, coming off a win last week at the Benton County rodeo, posted the fastest time in Sunday's team roping. Jason and Jake Minor had a 5.2-second run for the best Sunday time. The Minors finished in a tie for sixth in the team roping second go.

A Wyoming and a Texas cowboy teamed up to win the team roping. Turtle Powell (Stephenville, Texas) and Jhett Johnson (Casper, Wyo.) won the first go with a 4.6 run, and followed that with a 5.3 second run, to post a 9.9 aggregate and win the title. Both cowboys cashed checks for $4,063.63 for their team roping efforts.

Tammy Fischer, who stands 17th in the barrel racing standings, posted a 17.09 Friday run. Fischer's run stood up and the Texas cowgirl earned $2,525.10, which will help her bid to reach the coveted 15th spot and earn a trip to Las Vegas for the NFR.

On Sunday, Nebraska cowgirl Trula Churchill turned the barrels in 17.34 for the best of the Sunday go. Churchill's run left her in fifth place and earned her a check for $1,262.55.

An Athena mother-daughter tandem rode Sunday, with mom Julie Rugg Williams coming home in 17.99 and daughter - and 2010 Pendleton Roundup queen Cheyenne - posting a 18.17 run. Both finished out of the money.

Hermiston's Jordan Crossley finished second in the barrels with a 17.22 run and Dayton's Kelli Currin's Friday run of 17.37 stood up for the seventh spot.

The bulls only gave up three rides in Sunday's show. Cody Teel scored 66, Beau Schroeder rode Red Hot Mercy to a 74, and Sunday's best was turned in by Ellensburg cowboy Allen Helmuth. Helmuth rode Smoking Aces to a 78, good for a fifth-place tie for the rodeo.

Helmuth, who is ranked 16th, earned $601.34 for his ride and is in today's final go at Ellensburg in his pursuit of that ticket to the NFR, which comes with the No. 15 rank.

"It was a nice little bull," Helmuth said of Smokin Aces. "They said he would be right there in the gate and go right. That's what he did. He kind of sucked back a little bit and had me forward over him a bit. I had to really hustle to work around there. Now I've made the show round up there (Ellensburg), so I'll leave here and get ready for another one tomorrow (Monday)."

The No. 5-ranked bull rider rode Friday. Wesley Silcox turned in a ride that scored 88 points. The ride won the rodeo for the Utah cowboy and earned Silcox a check for $3,006.75 as 2011 bull rider champion.

Second Round

Tie-down Roping - 1, Scott Kormos, Teague, TX, 8.1, $1,497.91; 1, Ace Slone, Cuero, TX, 8.1, $1,356.60; 3, Will Casey, Mesa, WA, 8.6, $932.66; 3, Trevor Thiel, Greeley, CO, 8.6, $932.66.

Steer Wrestling - 1, Stockton Graves, Newkirk, OK, 3.5, $1,547.39; 2, Luke Branquinho, Los Alamos, CA, 3.8, $1,280.60; 3, Dru Melvin, Ponca City, OK, 4.1, $1,013.81; 4, Casey Martin, Sulphur, LA, 4.2, $747.02.

Team Roping - 1, Spencer Mitchell, Colusa, CA and Broc Cresta, Santa Rosa, CA, 4.8, $1,495.33 each; 1, Brandon Beers, Powell Butte, OR and Jim Ross Cooper, Monument, NM, 4.8, $1,485.33 each; 3, David Motes, Tolar, TX, and Ryon Tittel, Pueblo, TX, 4.9, $1,064.95 each; 4, Jake Stanley and Shane Crossley both of Hermiston, OR, 5.0, $644.58 each; 4, Caleb Mitchell, Pollok, TX, and Tyler McKnight, Wells, TX, 5.0, $644.58 each.


Tie-Down Roping - 1, Matt Shiozawa, Chubbuck, ID, 17.7, $1,639.22 ($2,995.82); 2, Jake Echevarria, Nampa, ID, 18.5, $1,215.28 ($1,724.00); 2, Cody Prescott, Jay, FL, 18.5, $1,215.28 ($1,610.95); 4, Nate Baldwin, Blackfoot, ID, 18.8, $791.35.

Steer Wrestling - 1, Graves, 8.1, $1,547.39 ($3,094.78); 2, Casey Martin, Sulphur, LA, 8.6, $1,280.60 ($2,401.12); 3, Shawn Greenfield, Lakeview, OR, 9.0, $880.41 ($1,252.91); 3, Cooper Shofner, Huntsville, TX, 9.0, $880.41.

Team Roping - 1, Turtle Powell, Stephenville, TX and Jhett Johnson, Casper, WY, 9.9, $2,438.18 ($4,063.63); 2, Arky Rogers, Lake City, FL, and Marty Becker, Cardston, AB, 10.4, $1,807.61 ($2,592.31) each; 2, Quincy Kueckelhan, Bonham, TX and Paul Eaves, Millsap, TX, 10.4, $1,807.61 ($3,012.68) each; 4, Blaine Linaweaver, Leavenworth, KS, and Kipp Harrell, Wall, TX, 11.0, $966.86 each; 4, Motes and Tittel, 11.0, $966.86 each.


Bareback Riding - 1, George Gillespie IV, Placerville, CA, 85, $2,522.25; 2, Steven Peebles, Redmond, OR, 83, $1,933.72; 3, Cody Demers, Kimberly, ID, 81, $980.87; 3, Ryan Gray, Cheney, WA, 81, $980.87; 3, Jessy Davis, Payson, UT, 81, $980.87.

Saddle Bronc Riding - 1, Ben Londo, Pendleton, OR, 82, $2,379.03; 1, Cody Wright, Milford, UT, 82, $2,379.03; 3, Troy Crowser, Whitewood, SD, 81, $1,526.17; 4, Roy Johnson, Etna, CA, 80, $987.52.

Barrel Racing - 1, Tammy Fischer, Ledbetter, TX, 17.09, $2,525.10; 2, Jordan Crossley, Hermiston, OR, 17.22, $2,146.33; 3, Pamela Capper, Cheney, WA, 17.23, $1,767.57; 4, Britany Fleck, Mandan ND, 17.33, $1,515.06.

Bull Riding - 1, Wesley Silcox, Santaquin, UT, 88, $3,006.75; 2, Tim Bingham, Honeyville, UT, $2,305.17; 3, Sonny Murphy, Tremonton, UT, 85, $1,703.82; 4, Ardie Maier, Timber Lake, SD, 83, $1,102.47.


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