CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Anthony Bellow of Oakley, Utah, scored 82 points Saturday during the saddle bronc riding competition at Curry County Mounted Patrol Arena.
By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
Scanning the list of numerous contestants from New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and Colorado, it’s not difficult to figure out which region of the country the Pioneer Days Rodeo is staged.
But Clovis’ annual rodeo tradition took on a more national, even international, flavor on the last night of the three-day competition.
Ryan Jarrett, second in last year’s PRCA all-around standings and all-around champ in 2006, was in two events on Saturday night at the Curry County Mounted Patrol Arena.
The Summerville, Ga., native finished in 4.1 seconds in steer wrestling, two-tenths of a second behind winner Tony Larsen — whose mark of 3.9 seconds on Thursday held up over the course of the event. Jarrett also had a time of 9.0 seconds in tie down roping, which was the best time of the night.
Though from Georgia, Jarrett noted that his current address is in Oklahoma.
His participation at Pioneer Days was Jarrett’s first rodeo in the last three weeks. Although that is a relatively light schedule compared to many of his peers, Jarrett still felt he was on track to finish in the top 15 of his respective events and have a place in the National Finals Rodeo come December in Las Vegas, Nev.
“I’ve hardly been nowhere, been at home visiting my family before the big summer run,” Jarrett said. “This is the first one I’m cracking out at. I sold some roping calves to a buddy of mine and this is kind of where we met up at.
“The summer rodeo season is fixing to begin right now. It’s fixing to get real crazy.”
For Anthony Bello, the Clovis rodeo was a chance for the current resident of Utah to ride a horse he felt would bring him a good score in the saddle bronc riding event. Bello may reside in Utah, but the 32-year-old is really from Australia and has been in the United States for the past two years competing in rodeos.
And Bello was right about his hunch.
Riding a horse called Cajun Moon, Bello got a score of 82 on Saturday and the high mark of the Pioneer Days rodeo for saddle bronc riding.
“That’s a good horse there,” Bello said. “You’d drive the length of the country to get on that horse.”
The Aussie knows a little something about long drives. A plumber by trade, Bello said his home town is a 12-hour drive from Brisbane, the closest major city.
After his winning ride on Cajun Moon, rodeo officials played “Down Under” over the loudspeakers for their Australian competitor.
“Brings a tear to me eye,” said Bello, who isn’t sure how much longer he plans on staying in the U.S. to rodeo. “The way I felt tonight, maybe another five years. Sometimes when you get on those horses that aren’t so much fun to ride, about two weeks.”
There was local flavor in the last day of the rodeo.
Following Jarrett’s run in steer wrestling, Melrose’s Jim Bob Allen scored a mark of 6.6 seconds. Though off the best times of the rodeo, Allen was second to Jarrett for the evening as most of the other contestants weren’t able to record a time at all.
“It makes you want to bulldog better,” said Allen, 37, of going right after the PRCA champ. “It’s better to go behind someone who’s good, rather than someone who misses one.”