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NPRA?Finals wraps up successful weekend

n Packed crowds watch finals which were held in Prineville for the second year in a row
The Northwest Professional Rodeo Association Finals (NPRA) went off without a hitch on Friday and Saturday at the Crook County Fairgrounds.
   “The weekend went awesome,” said fairground spokesperson Jodi Roan. “We had a bigger crowd than last year and they did a great job running the event.”
   The NPRA?bills itself as the largest rodeo association in the Western United States. The organization boasts many of the top amateur cowboys and cowgirls in the country and highlights up-and-coming rodeo performers.
   It was the second consecutive year that the event was held in Prineville and both nights were well received by the packed crowds.
   Powell Butte resident Mark Gage was the only Crook County cowboy to place at the event. Gage took second in the second round of saddle bronc riding with a score of 73. Although Gage failed to place in the first round, his score of 148 on two head was good enough for second in the average and propelled him to the lead in the year end standings.
   Although Gage was the only Crook County performer to place, a number of other Central Oregon performers had solid performances at the finals.
   Bend’s Tony Buckman won the first round of bareback riding with a score of 80, while Redmond’s Justin Chappell took third in the first go round of saddle bronc riding with a score of 80.
   Shane Erickson of Terrebonne placed third in both wild cow milking and team roping in Friday’s first go round while Bend’s Jordan Weaver earned a second place in tie down roping.
   Saturday’s second round also saw several Central Oregon athletes place. T.B. Hannan of Redmond earned a third place in saddle bronc riding, while Terrebonne’s Donovan Orr and Bend’s Wyatt Bloom took third and fifth respectively in bareback riding. Bend’s Kayla Gregory took first in Saturday’s barrel racing while Erickson wound up second in team roping and third in cow milking.
   Buckman ended up second in the bareback average with a two-round total of 153, while Hannan took fourth in the saddle bronc event with a score of 143 and Joe Scott Jr., also of Redmond, finished fourth in the average. Gregory went on to finish second in the barrel racing average while Erickson wound up second in cow milking and took first in the team roping average along with partner Brent Falon of Yakima, Wash.
   Erickson also finished third in the tie down roping average.
   Erickson went on to win the year-end title in cow milking as well as winning the men’s all around title, while Bloom came away with the bareback championship.
   The NPRA is scheduled to return to Prineville for each of the next two years and Roan is confident that it will continue to grow as an event.
   “Now that people know that it is going to stay in Prineville for a couple more years, we expect to get even bigger crowds in the future,” she said. “We are going to continue to grow the event.