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No sweat: Elshere posts 86-point ride on Sweatin’ Bullets to win 85th Champions Ride

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SENTINEL BUTTE — Despite the sunny conditions and drawing the bronc Sweatin’ Bullets, Cole Elshere didn’t feel the heat.

The Faith, S.D., cowboy is quite familiar with a Midwest summer and the bronc he drew, Sweatin’ Bullets.

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Elshere used his prior knowledge of the horse to win the 58th annual Champions Ride with an 86-point ride on Saturday at Home on the Range.

“I’ve been on that horse before, so I kind of knew what to expect,” said Elshere, who competed in his fourth Champions Ride. “That horse has made it to the (National Finals Rodeo), so I always enjoyed watching him. I was always hoping to get on him again. I was sure glad that I drew him.”

With the 86, Elshere edged Cody DeMoss of Heflin, La., who finished with an 85 on Tipped Off. Jake Wright of Milford, Utah, finished third with an 84. Wright also had an option for a reride, because his bronc — Julia — left the chute backward, but decided not to take it.

Though winning the Champions Ride doesn’t count toward the season standings of the PRCA, Elshere’s competing at Home on the Range meant more than just a place at the National Finals Rodeo.

Elshere is ranked 13th in saddle bronc riding for the PRCA world standings. He has earned $45,063.18 during the season and reached the NFR in 2012 and 2013. For winning the Champions Ride, Elshere received a $10,000 check, saddle, rifle and coat.

“They give away great prizes and this is the first time that I ever won a bronc saddle or a gun,” Elshere said with a smile. “It’s something that’s really cool and that I’ll never forget.”

The Faith cowboy didn’t have to look far to see the familiar faces of family members. His cousins — J.J. Elshere and Ryan Elshere — also competed in the Champions Ride.

After finishing with a long go score of 77 points, J.J. Elshere made the short go. He posted a short go score of 75 on Lounge Lizard.

“We try to get here every year,” J.J. Elshere said. “They treat us good, they work hard on doing things right for us and it’s for a good cause too.”

Though he didn’t finish with the highest score in the short go, J.J. Elshere couldn’t be happier for his cousin.

“That was great,” he said about Cole Elshere winning the Champions Ride. “He rode good and he dang sure deserved to be the winner. I was tickled pink for him.”

In the long go, Cole Elshere finished with the top score of 83 on Mud Pie. Zeke Thurston of Big Valley, Alberta, finished runner-up with an 82 on Rodeo Beyond. Wright and the 2013 Champions Ride winner Josh Reynolds of Ekalaka, Mont., each finished with a 79.

“My first round horse was really really nice,” Cole Elshere said. “Everything felt good on him, so I was confident getting on my second one.”

Of the 32 cowboys at the Champions Ride, nine are ranked in the top 50 in the saddle bronc world standings.

Brad Gjermundson, who is from Marshall and in charge of getting the best saddle bronc riders, is a Pro Rodeo and North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Famer. He is a four-time saddle bronc champion including winning three straight from 1983 to 1985.

Not only were some of the best cowboys and broncs on display at the Home on the Range, but there were more than one thousand people in attendance.

“For the quality of riders, horses and the work that the committee puts into it, we’d like to see double that,” Gjermundson said with a laugh. “We’d like to hopefully in the next couple of years get that attendance, because it’s a show that you don’t get to see very often.”

Champions Ride

Home on the Range in Sentinel Butte

Short go: 1, Cole Elshere, 86. 2, Cody DeMoss, 85. 3, Jake Wright, 84. 4, Josh Reynolds, 82. 5, Jesse Bail, 79. 6, Zeke Thurston, 78. 7, Jesse James Kirby, 76. 8, J.J. Elshere, 75; Dusty Hausauer, 75.

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