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Cowboy families descend on Champions Ride

Press Photo by Dustin Monke Cody Wright of Milford, Utah, rides K Gotcha on Aug. 2, 2009, during the long round of the Champions Ride saddle bronc match at Home on the Range near Sentinel Butte. Wright, a two-time Champions Ride winner, returns to the event Sunday with four of his younger brothers.

Rodeo truly is a family affair, no matter what the level.

If you need an example, look at the Wright brothers.

Cody Wright is 33 years old. Yet, he still spends most of his summer bunking with three younger brothers in the camper they haul behind a crew cab pickup truck that they travel in to rodeos throughout the country.

Cody and his brothers Alex Wright, Jake Wright, Jesse Wright and Spencer Wright, are scheduled to attend the 54th annual Champions Ride saddle bronc match at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Home on the Range near Sentinel Butte.

All of them except for Spencer Wright, a recent high school graduate and PRCA permit holder, have been on the road together much of the year.

"We just bail in (the pickup) and take off, go wherever we need to and sleep wherever we need to," Cody Wright said. "It's been real fun."

Jesse Wright is ranked ninth in the world coming into the weekend while Cody Wright, a seven-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier and 2008 world champion, is in 18th and has less than two months to climb his way back into the top 15 in order to make it eight consecutive trips to the NFR.

Alex Wright is 24th in the world and Jake Wright is 43rd in the standings. Spencer Wright is the 2008 National High School Finals Rodeo saddle bronc riding champion.

"We're excited to come up there to that," said Cody Wright, who won the Champions Ride in 2006 and 2008. "We're glad we can be invited."

The Wright brothers aren't the only family members making an appearance at the Champions Ride this weekend.

J.J. Elshere, his brother Ryan Elshere, and their cousin, Cole Elshere, are also entered.

Unlike the Wright brothers, the South Dakota cowboys don't often partner up to travel during the summer.

While J.J. Elshere enters many of the major rodeos, Ryan Elshere and Cole Elshere stick mostly to the Badlands Circuit events. J.J. is ranked eighth in the world standings while Cole is second in the Badlands Circuit.

J.J. Elshere said getting together at events like the Champions Ride is something he looks forward to because it's one of the few rides where he can be with his brother and cousin.

"It's pretty cool," J.J. Elshere said. "It's always fun when you get to ride with them guys. A lot of these match rides, we're all there. It's always fun having us all there. It's pretty good when all our families get to go too and watch too."

Cody DeMoss, fresh off his arena record-breaking 91-point ride at the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days Rodeo, is set to be here along with his younger brother, Heith DeMoss, who is ranked sixth in the world.

While being a professional rodeo cowboy can be a strain on his personal life, Cody Wright said having his brothers by his side makes the year go by much easier.

"It's a little more fun to be away from home when you're with family, but maybe that's just me," Cody Wright said.

Schaeffer out with broken vertebrae

Medora saddle bronc rider Clay Schaeffer is out for six to eight weeks -- the remainder of the regular season -- after fracturing all five of his lumbar vertebrae in a chute accident July 25 at the Days of 1910 Rodeo in Timber Lake, S.D.

Schaeffer was saddling up on his bronc in the chute when the horse reared up and knocked him into the chute wall.

"It's a tough deal, but it's part of the game," Schaeffer said.

The 26-year-old cowboy is leading the Badlands Circuit, North Dakota Rodeo Association and Northwest Ranch Cowboy Association standings. He was also third in the PRCA rookie saddle bronc riding standings.

He earned $9,443 in the Badlands Circuit this season -- he has about a $2,600 lead on Cole Elshere -- and recently cracked the world Top 50 with $12,490 in total earnings.

"It's a setback," Schaeffer said. "I've still got a fair lead in the Badlands Circuit, I think. I was within striking distance in that rookie deal."

Schaeffer said he plans to return for October's Badlands Circuit Finals in Minot.

Monke is the Sports Editor of The Dickinson Press. If you have any rodeo news or story tips, contact him at 701-456-1213 or through his e-mail address listed at the top of this story.

Dustin Monke

Monke came to The Dickinson Press in July 2006 as the newspaper's sports editor and was hired as its managing editor in March 2013. During his tenure at The Press, Monke has won multiple awards for sports reporting, feature reporting, column writing, page design and photography. He was a key part of The Press winning the North Dakota Newspaper Association's General Excellence and Sweepstakes awards in 2009 and 2012, and oversaw The Press' Sweepstakes and General Excellence wins in 2014, as well as its national first-place honors for Community Leadership in the Inland Daily Press Association and contributed to the first-place Inland award for Investigative Reporting. As the newspaper's editor, he writes an occasional Sunday column, is a member of The Press' Editorial Board, contributes feature stories and breaking news, designs pages, and oversees the day-to-day operations of the newsroom and editorial staff. In his free time, he enjoys watching sports and action movies, exercises whenever his schedule allows, and spends every minute he can with his wife and son.

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