Strong turnout bolsters Strawberry Days Rodeo |

Strong turnout bolsters Strawberry Days Rodeo

G. Sean Kelly
GSPI Sports Editor

It wasn’t just the ropers, barrel racers and rough stock riders who won at last weekend’s Strawberry Days Rodeo.

The fans seemed to make out pretty well, too.

The annual rodeo had a big jump in both spectator attendance and competitors compared to last year. A field of roughly 338 cowboys and cowgirls came out to battle for the prize money, and a two-day total of around 1,300 spectators filled the stands.

“It was one of the best Friday nights I can remember in a long time,” said organizer Smokey Torres of the first-night turnout. “It was the most contestants I remember in the 12 or 13 years I’ve been here.”

The first-night attendance of 586 was nearly double last year’s turnout, according to Smokey’s wife, Leslie Torres, and more than 700 rodeo fans came out Saturday night.

And, if the competitive field gets much bigger, there may be a need to add another day to the rodeo in the future. Smokey Torres said he heard a number of competitors say they wouldn’t miss the rodeo no matter what, a nod to the work put in by the rodeo crew.

“It’s a nice little pat on the back,” Torres said.

Roper John O’Connor likely got a pat on the back from two different teammates after finishing first and second in the open team roping competition. He and Jim Garson posted a time of 4.9 seconds to win the event, just edging his 5.0 time with Ron Nauta.

Sabrina Kruetzer also finished in the double money as part of the first- and third-place teams in the mixed team roping. Kruetzer and C.L. Morgan won the event in 6.5 seconds, followed by Christy and Rowdy Atwood in second (7.6 seconds) and Kruetzer and Greg Martinez (7.7 seconds).

Bailey Zellars took honors in the barrel race with a time of 17 seconds. Area barrel racer Breann Morgan tied with Ranette Taylor for second with a time of 17.17.

In the bull riding, Josh Domanski “had a heck of a draw,” according to Torres, and made the most of the feisty bull with a score of 86 to finish 16 points ahead of the nearest rider.

Dave Hoffman and Cody Fox tied for first with 74s in the bareback competition, and Jeremy Mallette posted the same score to win the saddle bronc.

Kelsey Garrison and Jordan Weaver tied for first in the tie-down roping, and Kyle Callaway was the top steer wrestler with a time of 3.3 seconds. Jaymee Martin won the breakaway roping.

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