2014 Rodeo Champions

Seth Hardwick, bareback riding co-champion

Hardwick, Seth 4-9-14-AP-276Seth Hardwick was one of three men to lay claim to the Buffalo Bill Rodeo bareback riding title last year. He, along with Orin Larsen and Jerad Schlegel, scored 81 points at the 2014 rodeo. Hardwick, who has been a PRCA member since 2011, rode the Beutler and Son horse Wonderland for the win. He knew he’d drawn a good one. “She went out there and went across the pen. She’s definitely one to show up and get on.” In 2013, he finished seventeenth in the world, just two holes out of making the Wrangler National Finals. Last year didn’t go as planned, either, with injuries keeping him from competition in April and May due to a hip and abdominal muscle injury, then a groin pull in September.

For fun, the Laramie, Wyo. man likes to go boating, fishing, and golfing. “It’s fun and not too expensive, and pretty much every town has a golf course. We’re not very good golfers, but it’s fun.”


Orin Larsen, bareback riding co-champion

His attendance at a bareback riding school changed Orin Larsen’s career path.Larsen, Orin MWCF13-013

The Inglis, Manitoba cowboy grew up the son of a bull rider and began his rodeo life riding calves, steers, and then bulls. He rode some saddle broncs, and then when a bareback riding school was hosted close to his house, he attended. “I thought, ‘I do the other two (roughstock events) I might as well try the third one for the hell of it.’” He got bucked off the first bareback horse he got on. “I got drilled on my head as hard as I had ever been drilled,” he said. “For some reason, I fell in love with it. I knew right from then on that that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my career.” In college at Panhandle State in Goodwell, Okla., he rode bulls, saddle broncs and barebacks, but excelled at barebacks, qualifying for the College National Finals Rodeo four times and winning the bareback riding title in 2013 and 2014.

Because the College Finals are usually scheduled the same time as North Platte, last year was Orin’s first time to compete at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo. But he’ll be back. “I wouldn’t miss it. It’s a great rodeo.”His win was made even more special because he tied with traveling partner Seth Hardwick. “The only thing better than winning is watching your buddies win it, too. It’s definitely cool to split a rodeo like North Platte. It gives us both an edge. We feed off each other.”

He scored 81 points on the Beutler and Son horse Black Kat.


Jerad Schlegel, bareback riding co-champion

Jerad Schlegel tied with Seth Hardwick and Orin Larsen for the bareback riding win at the 2014 Buffalo Bill RJerad-Schlegel-129x150odeo. The Burns, Colo. cowboy covered the Beutler and Son horse Rage for 81 points to tie for the title. Schlegel competed in junior rodeos and high school, winning the Little Britches junior all-around title in 2000, then going on to win the Colorado State High School Rodeo Association all-around and bareback riding championships in 2004. In college, he qualified for the College National Finals two years, winning the bareback riding title in 2006.

The eldest of three children of Randy and Sherri Schlegel, his brother Joel is also a bareback rider, and his sister Jacey is in middle school. Last year, in addition to the North Platte rodeo, Jerad won the Parada del Sol in Scottsdale, Ariz., and the Rooftop Rodeo in Estes Park, Colo. He joined the PRCA in 2005. When he’s not on the rodeo trail, he enjoys roping, playing basketball and golf, and watching SportsCenter.


Trell Etbauer, steer wrestling champion

trell & kaylee etbauer np 13 (1)Trell Etbauer turfed his two steers at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in a total time of 8.1 seconds to win the 2014 average championship.

The Goodwell, Okla. cowboy is best known for being an all-around hand; he’s won the Linderman Award, for excellence at both ends of the arena, four times. Etbauer often competes in the tie-down roping and saddle bronc riding as well, but in North Platte, it was bulldogging and roping only. Since an injury occurred in 2010, he’s rode broncs less frequently. “I got hurt and kept on getting hurt for two or three years,” he said. “I gained a bunch of weight and got pretty big to be riding broncs. Right now I’m built more to be a steer wrestler or tie-down roper, so I decided to focus on them mainly.”

His mount at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo was a twelve year old gelding named Rebel, the only bulldogging horse he’s ever bought, as he usually trains his own. He bought Rebel from a high school rodeo contestant in Winnemucca, Nev., and started hauling him two years ago. Since then, Rebel has carried Etbauer and his fellow bulldoggers K.C. Jones and Ryan Jarrett to the pay window many times. Etbauer is tied with Phil Lyne and Chip Whitaker for winning the Linderman Award four times, and he thinks he has another one in him. “It depends on how stuff goes. Lately, I’ve been trying to work out a lot more than I have in the past. If I can stay healthy and get back in shape, I like getting on broncs, and I wouldn’t mind getting on a few more.”

He and his wife Kaylee help with her family’s farm and ranch operation in the Texas panhandle. “When I’m home, I’m either on the tractor or driving truck.”

Cade Swor, tie-down roping champion

NFR 14  1-012 Cade SworCade Swor made his first trip to North Platte count. The Chico, Texas man won the 2014 Tie-Down Roping championship at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo with a time of 18.6 seconds on two head.

He was aboard Floyd, a thirteen-year-old brown horse who he rode at the Wrangler National Finals rodeo in 2014. “He’s really good, really solid,” Swor said. “He does the same thing every time. If you do your job and you have a good enough calf, you should win.” For fun, the 33 year old cowboy used to duck hunt but rodeo has lessened his time for hobbies. He enjoys working cattle in his spare time. “It’s fun to get to work cows and do something outside the arena.”

His 2014 trip was his first time to compete in North Platte, but he hopes to return. “You can either go up to Canada that week, or leave out of North Platte and go to Pleasant Grove (Utah), or Reno (Nevada), or you can be coming down from Sisters (Oregon), the week before. I just decided to stay home an extra week last year,” he said, which put North Platte on his schedule. In October of 2015, he will marry Sarah Wiens, Miss Rodeo Colorado 2013.

Last year was his fourth trip to the Wrangler National Finals, where he finished in fifth place in the world.


Bryce Miller, saddle bronc riding champion

Miller, BryceThe 2014 saddle bronc riding title went to a home-state cowboy. Bryce Miller, who grew up in Nelson, Neb., and now lives near Chadron, rode the Beutler and Son horse Dipsy Doodle for 81 points and the win. Miller, who was born in 1980, has qualified for four Wrangler National Finals Rodeos in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2009, but a badly broken leg in 2010 has slowed him down since then. “I just haven’t had the year that I need to make the Finals since.”

And since then, he’s married his wife, Kelli, and together they run some cows and custom fence when Bryce isn’t on the rodeo road.

He estimates he’s competed at North Platte at least eight times, and he enjoys it. “It’s close to my hometown, and it’s close to Chadron.” It also kicks off the busy summer rodeo season for most cowboys, including Miller. “It’s the start of our summer run. We usually go from there to Reno (Nev.)”



Ty Blasingame and JW Borrego, team roping champions

Ty Blasingame01If Ty Blasingame were a gambling kind of guy, the North Platte rodeo would be his triple seven. Blasingame has won the team roping in North Platte three of the past four years. In 2010, he won it with heeler Josh Fillmore, in 2013, with Matt Zancanella, and last year, with J.W. Borrego. He and Borrego, both Colorado cowboys, have been friends since they were kids and have roped together since high school. Borrego used to head for Blasingame, but they have switched ends.

Ty has hit the rodeo trail harder than J.W. at times, qualifying for the Wrangler National Finals in 2010, while J.W. has stayed closer to home.

Borrego, who lives near Weston, Colo., ranches on the place his grandfather gave him. He trains horses, runs cattle, Borrego, JW 4-9-14-AP-199sells elk and deer hunts, and “enjoys life,” he said. Ty goes to more rodeos than J.W. does. “I rodeo for a year, and then not for a couple of years,” Borrego said.

Ty, who grew up in Ramah, Colo., married Mindy in 2006, and then moved to Sugar City. He and his wife, a teacher, are building up a place, complete with a house, corrals and arena. They have two daughters: Kashlyn, age six, and Kodie, who is two.

In 2015, Ty and J.W. won the Ram National Circuit Finals. “It was cool to win it with Ty,” Borrego said. “It’s a big deal for me, because I don’t rodeo much. It’s pretty cool to win it with somebody you care about. If I didn’t rope with him, I wouldn’t rope that much.”

Their time of 10.4 seconds on two head won them the buckles.


Christy Loflin, barrel racing champion

christy loflinFranktown, Colorado’s Christy Loflin rounded the barrels at the 2014 Buffalo Bill Rodeo with a time of 17.41 seconds to be the champion.

The three-time Wrangler National Finals qualifier had one of her best years ever, winning not only the North Platte rodeo, but the Pendleton (Ore.) Round-Up, the Days of ’47 Rodeo (Salt Lake City), the Redding (Calif.) Rodeo, the Champions Challenge in Redding, the Sandhills Stock Show and Rodeo in Odessa, Texas, and rodeos in Alamosa, Colo., and Plains, Mont. Her family includes daughter Randi Timmons and son Cole Timmons. Randi is a Women’s Pro Rodeo Association member, like her mother, and was the Colorado Pro Rodeo Association’s Rookie of the Year two years ago.

Christy grew up riding hunter jumpers and began barrel racing at the age of 25, when she jumped head-first into the rodeo world. She finished twelfth in the world in 2014.


Corey Maier, bull riding champion

Corey Maier BRTimberlake, S.D. cowboy Corey Maier won the 2014 Buffalo Bill Rodeo bull riding title.

The thirty-year-old cowboy rode the Beutler and Son Rodeo bull branded number 980 for 85 points, but Corey almost got wiped out after the ride when the bull tried to take him. “He faked one way, went the other way, and tried to run me over when I got off. The bullfighters stepped in and got him away from me so I could get away.”

As many bull riders will attest, Corey knows that riding bulls is a mental game. “You dang sure have to know how to control your mind,” he said. “I just don’t over think it. You just have to go to it. You can overthink it.”

He’s suffered several injuries, including two broken arms, a broken leg, and hip surgery in August of 2014.

Corey is the middle son of three bull riding brothers, including Ardie, the oldest, and Rorey, the youngest.

NEBRASKAland Days June 12-22, 2019