CHEYENNE – Josh Frost had a good feeling about his score as soon as he hit the arena floor Friday afternoon.
The Randlett, Utah, bull rider thought his ride during the semifinals of the 126th anniversary Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo was good enough to be at least 90 points.
He was right.
Frost matched Harper & Morgan’s Blackout jump for jump and finished with a 91 to win his semifinal round.
“I think they hit it on the head with that (score),” Frost said with a laugh. “I’ve been riding bulls long enough that if I would have been under 90, I might have been upset. That bull was bucking hard, and I was going at him.”
Frost is the No. 2-ranked bull rider in the latest Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world standings with nearly $165,000 in earnings. He was excited about his draw Friday, and the trip was true to form.
“I’ve seen him before, and he’s always right there by the gate to the left,” Frost said. “He was leaping high in the air and made it pretty cool to watch. … I felt like I was having to scramble a little bit, but about four of five seconds in, I got him gathered up.
“It was about six-and-a-half before I felt like I was really good. I stuttered one time, and my foot hit me in the (butt) and I had to stick it back down. It’s pretty cool when you get a bull like that.”
This is the second consecutive year Frost has made the CFD finals. He is looking for a measure of redemption after being bucked off last summer.
“Before they did the tournament style, I think I stayed on one bull here every year and one a little in the round, but never made the finals,” Frost said. “I finally made the finals last year, and we’re headed back again this year.”
The top six bull riders from Friday’s semifinal round advanced to Sunday’s final round. There were exactly six bull riders who covered their draws.
Much like Frost, Justin Shaffer will be seeking redemption Sunday.
The Hallsville, Texas, steer wrestler advanced to the CFD finals last year, but had 10 seconds added to his time when he broke the barrier. Shaffer won Friday’s semifinal round by clocking in at 6.5 seconds.
“He was an honest steer, didn’t run as much, and kind of waited on us,” Shaffer said. “I knew he was going to be waiting on me, so I could be a little safer at the barrier instead of risking breaking it trying to catch up to him.
“Then, he was a gentle steer on the ground. Big, but gentle.”
Shaffer set the tone for the round by being the first bulldogger out of the box.
“I enjoy being the gunner there,” Shaffer said. “When you know you’ve got a good one, you can set the standard and make everyone chase you.”
Zeke Thurston came into the “Daddy of ’em All” on a hot streak, and has continued that since arriving in Cheyenne. He won his quarterfinal round Saturday and added another go-round win by scoring 89.5 points on Summit Pro Rodeo’s Corina.
“I had seen one video of that horse from about a year ago this time,” Thurston said. “It was a younger horse, what we’d call a colt. It was real green. I could tell in the video there was a lot of potential there, a lot of try and a lot of heart.
“It’s not a real big horse, but it’s real explosive and real electric. That’s what we’re looking for.”
Thurston is a two-time world champion and currently eighth in the PRCA world standings. He won one round at the Calgary Stampede and placed second in another earlier this month. He also won rounds at the Cody Stampede and Reno Rodeo.
“I got into a groove with some things, got some equipment figured out and started drawing some horses a guy could go win on,” the Big Valley, Alberta, resident said. “We made some saddle adjustments. In the bronc riding, it’s non-stop and you’re always messing with equipment. You try to keep it as simple as possible, but sometimes you have to do a little experimenting.
“We were playing with stirrup length and style of saddle. I got into a new saddle and had to get used to it. Now, I’m familiar, comfortable and confident in it.”
Reese Riemer thought he drew one of the best calves in the pen for his semifinal round at CFD. The rodeo let contestants flank and tie the calves before their round, and Riemer’s took the tie well. He was able to carry that into the arena as he had hoped, and clocked in at 10.5 seconds.
“We knew what we had, and mine was one of the exceptionally good ones that everyone wanted,” the Stinnett, Texas, resident said. “I got kind of excited when I saw that calf next to my name. She was gentle, and that’s what you want in a roping calf.
“I was able to ease through it, and that made my job a lot easier.”
Garrett Shadbolt won bareback riding by scoring 86 points on United Pro Rodeo’s Pow Wow Nation before he had to rush off to make a rodeo in Burwell, Idaho.
Tiffany Schieck and Marthan Angelone split first in breakaway roping by stopping the clock in 4.6 seconds.
Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill bested the field in team roping with a time of 8.4 seconds.
Summer Kosel of Glenham, South Dakota, continued to enjoy a stellar run at CFD. She set the Frontier Park Arena record during the qualifying round with a 17.02-second ride, and added another big paycheck to her bank account by winning Friday’s semifinals with a time of 17.34 seconds.