Morgan Grant is typically a pretty happy guy. But he was over the moon Wednesday afternoon at the Calgary Stampede. As the only cowboy to qualify in two events in 2014, Grant earned himself a sizeable payday by placing in the tie-down roping, and then winning first in the steer wrestling with a 4.4 second run.
“Awesome,” bubbled Grant, when asked to describe his good day at the office. “This is what you dream of, being a kid growing up in Canada, wanting to be a cowboy.”
That’s totally understandable if you’re from Big Valley, Alberta or Maple Creek, Saskatchewan. But wait a minute. Grant’s from Granton, Ontario! That’s not your usual cowboy-producing hotbed.
“I grew up in New Liskeard, Ontario and my Dad rode horses,” explained Grant about his eastern based passion for the western way of life. “He always wanted to rodeo, just never got the opportunity, so when we moved down to southern Ontario, I started doing junior barrels. My Mom wouldn’t let me steer ride, and the boys made fun of me because I barrel raced, not steer riding. So I got into roping and dogging and it’s paid off.”
Grant credits his Dad, also named Morgan, for driving hours to get him to rodeo events, as he did his schoolwork. Good thing Grant was used to doing homework on the road, because that’s something he continued when he went to college in Texas. He’d promised his folks he would get a degree before rodeoing full time, and he fulfilled that promise. Now he’s having the time of his life, and is pumped about being at the Calgary Stampede.
“This is my first time competing. I qualified once and got hurt, so this is my first time. I’m excited, and it’s going awesome. My grandparents are from Mississauga, and this is the one rodeo that they know. They’d never been around horses or anything like that, so that’s always the big one (to them). That’s how you know you made it, when you made it to Calgary.”
“I’ll be calling them,” he added, with a grin a mile wide, after accepting the daily bronze, and the $5500 steer wrestling cheque. Grant also earned $2500 for his 8.9 second run in tie-down roping. Although it won’t show on the official standings, there will be a little extra on his cheque for ground money, since there were only four qualified runs in the roping.
“I was tickled to death yesterday when I won $1500 in the calf roping, so I’m ecstatic. This is just awesome.”
Motivation is no problem for just-turned 25-year-old. The trick is to channel all that energy and excitement, and not let it take away from the work at hand.
“I just try to take deep breaths, and realize it’s one calf, one steer, and just try and go at ‘em and not do anything fancy, just make your best run on the steer. Your opponent’s the steer, not the people in the crowd or the timer timing, it’s just you and the steer.”
Sitting on top of Pool B steer wrestling standings after two days is Olin Hannum of Utah, with $8000.
B.C. bull rider Ty Pozzobon was happy to see his name matched up with a bull called Mr. Buddy. And he made the most of the opportunity, racking up 89.5 points on his ‘friend’, to collect the $5500 and get his Stampede rolling.
“That bull was exactly what I wanted in that pen,” said Pozzobon. “I’d been on that bull in April. I actually rode that bull for 89.5 in Clovis(CA) at a PBR, but I’ve seen him lots. They’ve been upwards in the 90’s on that bull.”
“I knew I was going to have my hands full, but I knew our styles fit each other.”
As you might expect with a score like that, the bull threw what he could at the talented 22-year-old.
“He gave me a little more trouble today than he did before,” admitted Pozzobon. “He kind of beat me around that first corner. I knew I was just a little bit out and I kind of had to gas it the whole ride to get there. I never really did get the sweet spot on him, but it was long enough.”
“I think he was a little more bull today here in Calgary. Must’ve been the atmosphere, I guess.”
“Hey, it’s a great way to start. I had kind of a slow start there yesterday, but that’s part of the game, so I’ll be looking to finish the week off strong, and hopefully be standing up on the podium with the $100,000,” he grinned.
There were only four bull riders who made the whistle in performance six, with J.B. Mauney one of them, so he’s the overall leader with $8000. Ponoka’s Zane Lambert sits second with $7000.
The ‘eliminators’ in the saddle bronc pen Wednesday lived up to their reputation. But for the second day in a row, ‘Wild West’ Wade Sundell lived up to his too. The two-time Calgary champion won Tuesday on a nice horse he could’ve ridden all day, but had to bear down for his next victory.
“That was the not-so-easy ones,” Sundell commented. “That was ten times harder today than it was yesterday.”
But Sundell plucked the Vold horse Awesome out of the hat, and that proved to be a fit, to the tune of 86.5 points.
“That’s not one you want to take home and just get on all the time,” he chuckled. “You want to have some money up for grabs for that one.”
“I’d been on that horse once before, and he bucked me down right at the whistle last time. I’ve been waiting. I wanted to get on him again, because I figured it could be real good.”
The last time the two had met was the short round at the rich Ponoka Stampede, and it was a missing second that cost Sundell a lot of cash. So yea, there may have been a little revenge on his mind.
“I had a bone to pick with him,” admitted Sundell. “I was counting my chickens before they hatched on that ride, and down I went. Won’t do that again.”
“Not this day.”
The back-to-back wins give Iowa cowboy the lead in Pool B, and the $11,000 virtually guarantees he’ll go straight through to Sunday.
Sundell acknowledges the fact his good friend Steven Peebles took the bareback riding honors got his own motor running. Peebles, from Oregon, was 87.5 on Raggedy Ann, for his first $5500 in Calgary. But four-time Canadian champion Dusty LaValley is in front for Pool B, with $6500, after placing in both day’s action.
Nancy Hunter could be on a runaway in the barrel racing, after she won her second straight $5500 day pay in that event, with a 17.53 second run. Like Sundell, the Utah cowgirl has $11,000 and most likely clear sailing to Sunday.
They were first and second in their placings on opening day, but tie-down ropers Shane Hanchey and Matt Shiozawa switched spots Wednesday, with Shiozawa bundling up his calf in 7.3 seconds. Just like the day before, only a tenth of a second separated the two, so they share the overall lead, with $10,000 in earnings apiece.
In the novice events, Danton Bertsch of Eastend, SK takes over the bareback lead with a 77.5.There’s still a tie at the top of novice saddle bronc between Zeke Thurston of Big Valley and Keenan Reinhardt of Calgary, both with 74.5’s. Coy Robbins of Camrose hangs on to first in steer riding with his 79.5
For all the results click through to the Stampede website here.
(Source: Calgary Stampede)