Wrights start things right at Roughrider Days Rodeo

Even as a barrel racing champion in two different countries, Carmel Wright admitted she's been struggling lately.And make no doubt about it, her daughter is gunning to beat her.The 56-year-old five-time New Zealand national champion and past Ram ...

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Carmel Wright of Roy, Mont., competes in barrel racing during the Roughrider Days Rodeo on Friday at the Dickinson State Outdoor Arena. (Press Photo by Colton Pool)

Even as a barrel racing champion in two different countries, Carmel Wright admitted she’s been struggling lately.
And make no doubt about it, her daughter is gunning to beat her.
The 56-year-old five-time New Zealand national champion and past Ram National Circuit Finals champion in the United States led all barrel racers with a time of 15.71 seconds on the first day of the Roughrider Days Rodeo on Friday at the Dickinson State Outdoor Arena. Danielle Wright, Carmel’s daughter, was second with a 15.78-second run.
The rodeo continues with a 7 p.m. performance today at the DSU Outdoor Arena.
Carmel, who won the Roughrider Days two years ago, said her performance was a confidence booster considering her recent struggles. The Roughrider Days has been a friendly rodeo for her, which is why she keeps coming back.
“Everyone on the road always says go where you know your horse does well,” Carmel said. “Somewhere else might have a bit more money, but she’s already proven herself in this arena.”
She needed this win, Carmel said, and so did her horse Sweetheart Special, or Tweety for short.
“Sometimes you just lose your timing, lose a little bit of confidence and play mind games with yourself,” Carmel said. “I really got my focus right and just rode with purpose.”
Rodeo in general was why her family moved to the U.S. 14 years ago. Her husband was a saddle bronc rider and her kids started to find interest in rodeo, so they took the trek across the globe and settled in Roy, Mont.
This is Danielle’s first season and she’s hoping to make a circuit finals, which Carmel has no doubt she’ll do if she continues to ride like this.
“She rode really well,” Carmel said. “We’ve always ridden together. She’s always snapping at my heels telling me, ‘You’re going to have to hurry up, mom.’”
Minot’s Blake Eggl led all tie-down ropers with a finish in 10.9 seconds to beat Matt Peters of Hot Springs, S.D., who entered the rodeo in 13th in the Badlands Circuit with $1,178.72, with a 12.2 and Dane Kissack of Spearfish, S.D., who was 14th in the Badlands standings with $1,064.86, with a 13.

“It’s nice to go to a rodeo that’s only 200 miles down the road,” Eggl said. “A lot of times I have to travel a little farther. Dickinson’s rodeo does a great job. Their fairgrounds are great.”
Eggl, in his eighth year at the Roughrider Days but has been doing rodeo since he was 7 years old, said he hopes to continue this level of performance moving forward.
“It’s always a confidence builder when you see one go around the neck and you’re smooth,” Eggl said. “There’s definitely plenty of times you're not. It’s like playing hoops: When you see a couple go in, you definitely feel confidence.”
The calves were fresh, Eggl said, so they weren’t the easiest to take down because not all of them will take a tie.
But he could go back home with a run he liked.
“The biggest thing is getting one that you can win on,” Eggl said. “My mindset going into about every rodeo is to just start with a score and get out; don’t take a 10 at the barrier and get one around the neck and be smooth.”
Blade Elliott of Centreville, Ala., took the lead in bareback riding with the Roughrider Days’ very first go on a 75-point ride.
But Elliott was a little thrown off when he found out only a minute before his ride that he would be riding a different horse. His original horse, Firestorm, was injured and he had to take on Matrix, which was going to be the re-ride horse.
Matrix was the better horse anyway, said Elliott, who’s 42nd in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world standings with $7,000.02.
“I felt like I rode pretty decent, but I could always be better,” he said. “It felt like it went pretty good today. I don’t like to say it, but I’ve been in kind of a slump lately, so that kind of felt like a slump buster.”
Though Elliott had seen Matrix before, it had been years ago.
He felt like he rode it better this time around in his first Roughrider Days. He said he comes to the Midwest every summer to get out of the humidity - and because the rodeo horses and money are better here.
“When I’ve been in this slump, I’ve been saying it only takes one to get out of it. It only takes one home run,” Elliott said. “That might not even place here, but hopefully I get a check out of that 75.”
Ardie Maier was one of two bull riders to score on Friday, and the Timber Lake, S.D., native scored 80 points to beat Cain Smith of Pendleton, Ore., who had a 72.
JJ Elshere of Hereford, S.D., who was third in the Badlands Circuit standings with $5,379 before the rodeo, took the lead in saddle bronc riding over Troy Crowser, who’s 33rd in the PRCA world standings with $11,371.10, of Whitewood, S.D., with a 79, and Dickinson native Dusty Hausauer, who’s 31st in the world standings with $13,653.81, with a 77.5.
After entering the Roughrider Days in 25th in the Badlands Circuit standings with $471.64, Eli Lord took the lead in steer wrestling with a go of 5.7 seconds. The cowboy from Sturgis, S.D., beat out past College National Finals Rodeo champion and Glen Ullin native Cameron Morman’s 7.1 seconds and Morristown, S.D., native Rowdy Benson’s 8.9 seconds.
The team roping duo of Tucker McDaniel of Midland, S.D., and Jeff Nelson of Philip, S.D., took the lead with a go in 5.8 seconds, while Caleb Mitchell of Mason, Texas, and Matt Kasner of Cody, Neb., who is the 36th team roping heeler in the PRCA standings with $13,287.92, were right behind with 5.9 seconds.

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