JAY DAVIS: Don’t expect repeat winners at Stampede
What do the names Jake Smith, Lisa Lockhart, J.W. Lorenz, Jerrad Hofstetter, Tate Longbrake, Hugh Connolly, Jeffrey Ramagos, Blaine Linaweaver and Matt Garza all have in common?
They are the names of last year’s winners at the Sitting Bull Stampede. They are also a list of names you should not bet a buck or a beverage on at this year’s Stampede.
There have been very few back-to-back winners in any event since I began covering the Stampede. Since 1998 (yup, you’ve been putting up with me that long) there has been exactly one back-to-back event champion. That was Matt Elliot of Valentine, Neb., who won the saddle bronc riding title in 2002 and 2003. That leaves bareback riding, bull riding, barrel racing, tie-down roping, steer wrestling and team roping to combine for zero repeat champs.
While there is a pretty good list of cowboys who have won an event more than once, just never in consecutive years, that can’t be said for the lone ladies event in pro rodeo. Over the past 15 years, 15 different cowgirls have won the barrel racing title.
The cowboys who have been dominant in events make a pretty good list. Thad Emerson of Whitman, Neb., won the bareback riding title in 1998 and 2000 before being co-winner in 2002. He tied that year with Dustin Reeves of Wasta who went on to win the title in 2005 and 2010. Joe Gunderson of Agar won bareback titles in 2004 (co-champ) and 2006. Scott Montague of Rapid City won the title in 2007 and 2009.
Reggie Keil of Mud Butte is the only one to win bull riding more than once. Keil won in 2000 and again in 2002.
Barry Blair of Ekalaka, Mont., has two tie-down roping titles. He won in 1999 and 2002.
Tyler Haugen of Sturgis is the only two-time winner in steer wrestling. He won in 2002 and again in 2008.
Team roping has four cowboys who have won two titles, but none were successive and none were with the same teammate. Guy Howell of Belle Fourche won in 1999 and 2010. Toby Mentzer of Ensign, Kan., won in 2000 and 2002. Jeff Nelson of Philip won in 2004 and 2009. Defending champ Blaine Linaweaver of won last year and in 2005. His titles were so far apart that he was from Leavenworth, Kan., in 2005 and now resides in Irvine, Calif.
Clay Cowan of Highmore is not a repeat winner but he is the only cowboy with titles in two different events. Cowan won the steer wrestling title in 2003 and the tie-down roping title in 2009.
Linaweaver will be one of five contestants who are trying for back-to-back titles this year, although his teammate from last year, Matt Garza of Las Cruces, N.M., won’t be competing with him. The other defending champs performing this year are Smith, Ramagos, Lockhart and Hofstetter.
There is also a substantial list of previous event winners who are back and looking for another title. The aforementioned Gunderson, Cowan, Haugen and Nelson are competing. Other past winners competing are: saddle bronc, Jeremy Meeks (Belle Fourche, 2011), Raytom Meiers (Mills, Wyo., 2008) and Ryan Elshere (Elm Springs, 2011); bull riding, Shawn Coleman (Springfield, 2011 and second last year); tie-down roping, Grady Lockhart (Oelrichs, 2003), Tyler Thiel (Belle Fourche, co-champ 2005), Trevor Thiel (Greeley, Colo., co-champ 2005); steer wrestling, Gary Gilbert (New Underwood, 2011); barrel racing, Wanda Brown (Edgemont, 2000), Julie James-Blacke (Pinedale, Wyo., 2009); and team roping, Ace Pearce (Washington, Texas, 2006); Jake Nelson (Creighton, 2009), Brent McInerney (Alzada, Mont., 2010) and 2011 champs Preston Billadeau of Parshall, N.D., and Jared Bilby of Bridgeport, Neb.