Walla Walla’s Taruscio leads steer wrestling at Round-Up

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PENDLETON — The 103rd Pendleton Round-Up began Wednesday with a moment of remembrance on the 12th anniversary of Sept. 11th.

Thousands of spectators, cowboys, cowgirls and Round-Up volunteers listened to a light breeze turn into a lusty rendition of the national anthem before returning their hats to their heads.

But from there it was all action, breaking immediately to one of rodeo’s signature events, a bucking, barebacked horse mounted by a cowboy determined to stay on for the next 8 seconds.

The Roundup continues daily through Saturday.

One of the best performances of the day was registered by an Oregon native.

“That was an awesome horse,” said Steven Peebles of Redmond, Ore., complimenting his horse My Mistake. “I didn’t know anything about him, but it was outstanding. I’m really excited. I’ve been here to Pendleton about six times and this is the first time I’ve done this well. I haven’t done that well here, so to be on the top of the board with an 87 makes me real happy.”

Peebles’ 87 score put him atop a roster of 18 bareback competitors, working their way toward Saturday’s finals.

Behind him were Casey Colletti (Pueblo, Colo.) at 85, Bobby Mote (Stephenville, Texas) 83, and Brian Bain (Culver, Ore.) 81.

Peebles, 24, joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) in 2008, winning at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas as a rookie. He has won $413,074 in PRCA competitions through this year, including nearly $40,000 last year, when he finished 10th in the world bareback standings.

The Oregon native won the state high school bareback championship twice, in 2005 and 2007, going on to win the Northwest region collegiate championship in 2008.

In steer wrestling, Walla Walla’s B.J. Taruscio, pursued, caught and tossed his steer in 5.7 seconds, the best time Wednesday.

Just two-tenths of a second back was Bray Armes (Ponder, Texas) at 5.9, followed by Billy Bugenig (Ferndale, Calif.) 6.4, Nick Guy (Sparta, Wis.) 6.8, and Tony Currin, from Dayton, at 7.6.

In the first timed event of this year’s Round-Up, Jake Hannum (Plain City, Utah) won the tie-down roping competition with a time of 9.8 seconds.

Just one second separated him from Trevor Brazile (Decatur, Texas), rodeo’s most famous competitor today, the winner of last year’s Round-Up all-around title and one win shy of winning the most world championships in rodeo history. Brazile scored 10.8. He was followed by Rick Kieckhefer (Prescott, Ariz.) at 12.0 seconds, and Jerome Schneeberger (Ponca City, Okla.) 14.3.

Brazile and fellow Texan Patrick Smith (Lipan, Texas) took first on Wednesday in the team roping event with a time of 5.4 seconds.

They were followed by Tuf Cooper (Decatur, Texas) and Trey Johnson (Boyd, Texas) at 6.1 seconds, and Chad Masters (Cedar Hill, Tenn.) and Randon Adams (Logandale, Nev.) 7.6.

In the saddle bronc event — like bareback but with a saddle — Samuel Kelts (Millarville, Alberta) led the field with a score of 84 riding Fraid Knot.

He was followed by four cowboys with 78: Dustin Flundra (Pincher Creek, Alberta), Francis Marchand (Omak, Wash.), Joaquin Real (Woody, Calif.) and Ty Thompson (Wanblee, S.D.)

In the steer roping event, Jess Tierney (Hermosa, S.D.) and Howdy McGinn (North Powder, Ore.) tied at 15.8 seconds, ahead of Steve Hurn (White Salmon, Wash.) with 18.4.

In the only women’s event at the Pendleton Round-Up, barrel racing, Christy Loflin (Franktown, Colo.) registered the fastest time of 28.62 seconds, followed by Shada Brazile (Decatur, Texas) at 28.74, Mary Shae Hays (Hermiston, Ore.) 29.40 and Lindsey Sears (Nanton, Alberta) 29.44.

In the bull riding event ,few competitors actually stayed on long enough to finish the required 8-second ride. The best score, 87, went to Brennon Eldred (Purcell, Okla.). He was followed by Cody Sierka (Brewster, Neb.) at 85, and Howdy Cloud (Kountze, Texas) 84.

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