Set the Pace

Several cowboys and cowgirls walked away from the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo on opening night, August 1, with firm leads in their events.

Saddle bronc rider Ryder Sanford is in the driver’s seat with a 90.5 point ride, and bareback rider Rocker Steiner scored 84 points to take the lead after the first night.

For Sanford, the 24 year old cowboy is coming off a big win at Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days on July 30, pocketing more than $12,000.

“I’m still on a high,” he laughed, referring to his Cheyenne win.

He knew the horse he’d drawn, Cracker Jack of Andrews Rodeo Co., was a good one, and his friends confirmed it. “I talked to Statler (Wright) and Sterling (Crawley) about him, and they said it was a great draw. I was excited to come here and get on him.”

A 2022 graduate of McNeese State University in Sulphur, La., Sanford credited his college rodeo team and peers for helping him build a solid rodeo foundation.

“McNeese has a great (rodeo) program,” he said. “The guys there are really great guys. They build each other up, and it really set me up for this year.”

He has a civil engineering degree, but it’s on the back burner while he rodeos full time.

Ranked seventeenth in the world standings, Sanford has a chance at his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the pinnacle of pro rodeo, where world champions are determined. The Abilene rodeo is one step towards that goal. “Every rodeo counts,” he said.

In the bareback riding, the 2022 PRCA Rookie of the Year set the pace in Abilene.

Rocker Steiner, Weatherford, Texas, scored 84 points on the Andrews Rodeo Co. horse Cash and Carry.

The ride “was a little wild,” he said. The horse “pulled a tricky move on me at the end, and I spurred over the neck which cost me a point or two, but other than that, it felt good.”

Steiner, who is ranked ninth in the world standings, rodeos in Heber City, Utah on August 4, then is back to Dodge City on August 5. He finished the 2022 season tenth in the world.

Other leaders after the first night of rodeo include steer wrestler Tevin Cowan, Harrold, S.D. (4.7 seconds); breakaway roper Hollie Ladner, Poplarville, Miss. (4.3 seconds); tie-down roper Colten Wallis, Big Spring, Texas (10.6 seconds); team ropers Trent Vaught, Mena, Ark. and Blaine Turner, Batesville, Ark. (4.5 seconds); and barrel racer Sadie Wolaver, Weatherford, Okla. (17.48 seconds). No bull rider made an eight second ride.

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Photo: Rocker Steiner sets the pace in the bareback riding after the first night of the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo in Abilene. The Texas cowboy, currently  ranked tenth in the world standings, scored 84 points on the Andrews Rodeo Co. horse Cracker Jack. Photo by Fly Thomas.

Result from the August 1 performance of the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo – Abilene, Kansas

Bareback riding

1. Rocker Steiner, Weatherford, Texas 84 points on Andrews Rodeo Co.’s Cash and Carry; 2. Gauge McBride, Kearney, Neb. 82; 3. Quintonn Lunsford, McCune, Kan. 77; 4. Colt Eck, Redfield, Kan. 75.

Steer wrestling

1. Tevin Cowan, Harrold, S.D. 4.9 seconds; 2. Rhett Witt, Valentine, Neb. 6.0; 3. Tyler Scheevel, Lester Prairie, Minn. 6.1; no other qualified runs.

Breakaway roping

1. Hollie Ladner, Poplarville, Miss. 4.3 seconds; 2. Erika Frost, Randlett, Utah 12.0; no other qualified runs.

Saddle bronc riding

1. Ryder Sanford, Sulphur, La. 90.5 points on Andrews Rodeo Co.’s Cracker Jack; 2. Denton Ward, Goodwell, Okla. 85.5; 3. Jake Finlay, Goondiwindi, Australia 83; 4. Trent Burd, Madison, Kan. 82.

Tie-down roping

1. Colten Wallis, Big Spring, Texas 10.6 seconds; 2. Chance Oftedahl, Pemberton, Minn. 13.3; 3. Cooper Williams, Atlantic, Iowa 13.7; 4. Colton Sand, Stillwater, Okla. 14.0.

Team roping

1. Brye Crites, Welch, Okla./Rance Doyal, Hartshorne, Okla. 4.5 seconds; 2. Mason Stueve, Newton, Kan./Raylen Stueve, Sedgewick, Kan. 5.3; 3. Trent Vaught, Mena, Ark./Blaine Turner, Batesville, Ark. 9.7; 4. Jason Arndt, Ft Scott, Kan./Troy Kitchener, Inman, Kan. 10.3.

Barrel racing

1. Sadie Wolaver, Weatherford, Okla. 17.48 seconds; 2. Sissy Warren, Glenwood, Iowa 17.59; 3. Erin Wetzel, Plant City, Fla. 17.95; 4. Shannon Jensen, Lawton, Iowa 18.02.

Bull riding

No qualified rides.

** All results are unofficial.  For more information, visit  For complete results, visit