Team Roping is a family affair when it comes to the Bonnett clan of Ponoka. All three brothers came to their hometown Stampede on Canada Day with hopes of making a pair of runs that could get them into Sunday’s rich Finals at the 87thannual event. It’s even more lucrative this year as both headers and heelers get an equal paycheque instead of having to split the purse down the middle.
Youngest brother Kash Bonnett, roping with his header Trent Tunke of Seven Persons, spun their steer in the fastest time of the performance with a 5.7, which netted them $3113. But in their morning slack run, a slipped heel and the resulting five second penalty bumped them too far back in the aggregate standings to make the cut for Sunday.
The two older siblings, Keely and Logan, rope together and they followed up on a 6.4 from the morning run with a 6.9 in the afternoon. The resulting 13.3 total finished sixth overall, and means they’ll get another steer on Sunday.
“The morning steer was tracking right and left a bit, so we just wanted to be safe and get him caught,” explained Keely.
“We had a good steer for our next one,” added Logan, who handles the heading duties.
Both brothers paid tribute to longtime team roping supporter Lyle Kurtz, of CVS Controls, for helping team ropers get to equal money at Ponoka.
“It means doing well at Ponoka can help you get a long way towards the NFR now,” says Keely, who confirms a run for Las Vegas could be in the works for them if things go well on Sunday.
“We’re pretty busy at home, but we’d have to take a look at it.”
The Bonnett’s still need to be among the four fastest in the Finals, in order to make it to the Showdown Round, where there’s an additional $5000 up for grabs.
“We’ve only made it to the four round once and that was a while back,” says Keely Bonnett.
There’s a lot of sharing within the family, and with their close friends the Graham brothers, who lead going into Sunday at 11.9 seconds on two head. Keely Bonnettsold his three-time heeling horse of the year, Cruz, to Dillon Graham, which was not an easy decision.
“Well, my fiancé and I are building a new house, so it helped with that,” he smiles.
Fortunately, Keely was able to look to younger brother Kash’s horse pen and pluck one to use, and he’s been having good success with it. So the family connections proved valuable again!
Only one bareback rider managed to crack the top twelve, and it was no small accomplishment for Strawbs Jones, an Australian who so loved rodeoing in Canada that he became a Canadian citizen.
“I’ve got a floating rib up the top on my left side,” explained Jones, who got the injury last week at Wainwright. However, he got enough Ponoka air to spur well for eight seconds on Legend’s Flashy Secret, collect 84 points, and finish eleventh spot to make the Finals.
This was the third horse he’s been on since getting hurt, and in true cowboy fashion, Jones is reluctant to dwell on the pain. He will note he’s appreciated the efforts of the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sports Medicine Team.
“They’ve been doing a world of wonder for me. They’ve been icing it and strapping some stuff together. They’re really good and we can’t thank them enough.”
There’s not much healing time available over the next few busy rodeo weeks, but Jones has no plans to slow down.
“The best thing about bareback riding is it’s a man’s sport, and you find out if you’re a man every day you run your hand in (the rigging).”
The 89.25 from Kade Sonnier from opening day was untouched at the top of the bareback qualifiers. It was an 89.25 which held on to first in the saddle bronc riding, and it was owned by Montana’s Chase Brooks. South Dakota’s Cash Wilson was the only cowboy Saturday to make the Sunday roster in the event. His 85 on Disco Lemonade put him in a three-way tie for eighth.
A pair of steer wrestlers advanced from Saturday’s action, although they still left Ponoka’s own Craig Weisgerber in the number one spot with his 8.4 tally on two head. Oregon’s Dalton Massey checked into third spots with 8.9 seconds on his runs Saturday, while JD Struxness of Texas used a snappy 4.3 Saturday afternoon to snag fifth in the aggregate with 10.1.
“I made the final four last year,” recalls Struxness. “It was my first time to Ponoka so that was pretty cool. Hopefully we continue on this year. To come out with a Ponoka win would be pretty sweet.”
Tuf Cooper stood firmly planted in the frontrunner position in tie-down roping with his 16.1 seconds. None of Saturday’s ropers were able to capture a top 12 spot, as the cutoff was a rapid 19 seconds flat. There was a shakeup in the barrel racing leaderboard, as four of the top six finishers came from Saturday’s performance. Oklahoma’s Dona Kay Rule raced into second position in 17.39 seconds, just behind the 17.20 from Carlee Rae Otero.
There will be nine bull riders in the Sunday finals, after two more made the all-important whistle Saturday. Montana’s Cole Hould made his first trip to the Ponoka Stampede count, as he marked 85.5 on the Legend bull Flick the Switch, for fourth overall. The highest score was the 86.75 from Jordan Hansen.
Several other awards were handed out after their events were finished. Jordan Cust claimed the novice saddle bronc championship with a 78 at Ponoka, with the novice bareback title going to Chase Siemens for a 77. Joseph Vansandt took the junior steer riding honors with a 77.5. The Canadian Women’s Ranch Bronc Championship went to Pearl Kersey of Millarville.
Sunday’s finals featuring the top twelve in each of the major events start at 1:00 pm. From there, the field is sorted to the four top finishers, who advance to the Sunday evening Showdown round.