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Big bucks for 79th rodeo winners

Bareback winner Austin Foss of Oregon sets rodeo-high with $10,300 payout


by: PHIL HAWKINS - Tyler Waltz of Martin, Tennessee, holds onto I Spy Major of Big Stone in the first go of the bareback riding competition Wednesday at the 79th annual St. Paul Rodeo.After five days of competition and six different shows, this year’s St. Paul Rodeo awarded more than $200,000 in prize purses to the hundreds of athletes who came out last week.

“As the PRCA ranks rodeos, we’re No. 10 in the nation for the regular season,” St. Paul Rodeo board member Kevin Smith said.

The large winnings come as a result of the nearly 50,000 guests that turn out each year to watch some of the best riders in the country. In turn, the rodeo is able to attract top-tier talent because it attracts so many people each year, giving the event a kind of wheel of success that perpetuates itself each season, said Smith.

Although the rodeo brings in riders from across the nation, this year’s biggest payout went to Oregonian bareback rider Austin Foss of Terrebonne.

Foss scored 87 points on Korkow Rodeo Co.’s horse Arabella to win the bareback riding title, bringing home the top purse of $10,300.05.

It was the second time Foss had ridden the horse. In 2013, he scored 83 points on Arabella at the Dixie National Rodeo in Jackson, Mississippi, though she nearly bucked him off.

“I didn’t know if I got to the buzzer or not,” he said. “She’s a really fun horse to get on, and there’s a lot of guys that want to draw her.”

Foss is currently ranked third in the world bareback standings and is set to qualify for his second Wrangler National Finals Rodeo this December. Coming into his second finals, Foss is more comfortable knowing what to expect this time around.

“A guy goes to the finals, sees what it’s all about, then he can really come out and concentrate,” he said. “Worrying about getting to the finals isn’t so bad then.”

In the other main attraction on Saturday night, three men split the bull riding title.

Cole Echols of Elm Grove, Louisiana; Josh Koschel of Nunn, Colorado, and Jeff Ramago, Zachary, Louisiana all scored 85 points to split a three-way prize of $7,511.23 each.

The co-victory for Ramago came after a life-changing decision in March when he opted to quit his full-time job and join the rodeo circuit.

by: GARY ALLEN - The bareback event garnered the biggest payout this year.“Something kept telling me inside I didn’t need to go back to work,” he said in a rodeo press release. “I think God was talking to me.”

The epiphany came surprisingly after spending 12 days in the hospital for butting heads with a bull at a rodeo in Okeechobee, Florida.

During his ride, Ramago’s head came down just as the bull’s head came up. The two connected, and Ramago broke his cheekbones, eye sockets, nose and jaw, requiring reconstructive surgery that kept him in ICU for five days.

After seven more days in the hospital and significant time of in-home healing, he knew he wanted to keep riding bulls full time.

Ramago quit his job on the Exxon pipeline and has been riding bulls full time since.

“I feel like I’m riding a whole lot better,” he said. “I stay in shape, work out, eat right. I couldn’t feel any better. God has blessed me a lot.”

The second-biggest payout went to team roping partners Coleman Proctor of Pryor, Oklahoma and Jake Long of Coffeyville, Kansas.

The duo placed first in both rounds of competition on Thursday to post an aggregate time of 9.2 seconds, earning a prize purse of $10,167.79.

***

Other champions include:

- Steer wrestling: Nick Guy of Sparta, Wisconsin.

- Tie down roping: Marty Yatse of Stephenville, Texas.

- Saddle bronc: Tyler Corrington of Hastings, Minnesota.

- Barrel racing: Brenda Mays of Terrebonne.

- All around standing: Jack Vanderlans of Temecula, California.




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