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Larsen spurs his way to top spot

Ted Harbin
Special to the Globe

Through much of the 2019 ProRodeo season, Orin Larsen was in a big-time race for the world championship.

He entered the National Finals Rodeo this past December third in the world standings with more than $173,000 in earnings. While in Las Vegas over the richest 10 days in the game, he placed in six rounds – including the Round 4 victory – and placed fourth in the all-important average; he earned $123,000 in that week and a half and finished second in the bareback riding world standings.

My how things have changed. Larsen is still riding as strong as ever, but the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has been a damper on many sports, and rodeo is no exception.

The Dodge City Roundup Rodeo is one of a few hundred rodeos that are still going on, but it’s a far cry from years where there were around 700 rodeos in a calendar year.

On Wednesday’s opening night of Roundup Rodeo, Larsen spurred Vold Rodeo’s Spicey Chicken for 87 points to take the lead in bareback riding and putting himself in fantastic position to return in a high spot for Sunday’s championship round, which features only the top 12 contestants in each event from four days of preliminary competition.

“It just felt like I was spurring a Shetland pony,” he said of the smallish horse. “It’s a short-back, cool little sucker. I’d heard a lot about the horse, but I didn’t know much. It was just awesome the way it turned out. She didn’t have one jump that was the same to the next. It was pretty exotic and wild, but there was something honest about it.

“She definitely gave me every chance she could.”

In a typical year, there are more than two dozen rodeos that attract the top cowboys during this particular week of competition. With the pandemic causing many of those events to be canceled, contestants are taking every chance they can to make the dollars necessary.

Only the top 15 contestants on the money list when the regular season comes to a close advance to the NFR.

Larsen is a five-time finalist from Ingles, Manitoba, now living in Gering, Nebraska, with his wife, Alexa. He also is a two-time college national champion bareback rider, having won the titles in back-to-back years for two different schools – he claimed his first crown while attending the College of Southern Idaho and his second at Oklahoma Panhandle State University, which

“Especially with this COVID thing going on, every penny counts, and it’s going to come down right to the wire as to who makes the NFR and who doesn’t,” he said. “any time you can get a big win like this under your belt, it’s one step closer.”

He has a great deal of work yet to do. He’ll compete again Thursday in Burlington, Colorado, then spend a couple days at home before returning for Sunday’s finale at Roundup Arena. Larsen is excited to return.

“I’ve never won this rodeo, and I’d really like to,” Larsen said. “With all this stuff with the pandemic, the committee has work endless to get this going, as have a lot of other committees. You gain a new appreciation for what everyone does for the sport of rodeo.”

Dodge City Roundup RodeoDodge City, Kan.July 29-Aug. 2Bareback riding leaders: 1. Orin Larsen, 87 points on Vold Rodeo’s Spicey Chicken; 2. Jesse Pope, 85; 3. Ty Breuer, 82; 4. (tie) Trenton Montero and Tim O’Connell, 77; 6. (tie) Tanner Aus and Wyatt Denny, 75 ; 8. Colton Clemens, 64.

Steer wrestling: First round leaders: 1. 1. Dirk Tavenner, 3.6 seconds; 2. Luke Branquinho, 3.8; 3. (tie) Hunter Cure and Clayton Hass, 3.9 each; 5. Dalton Massey, 4.2; 6. Blake Knowles, 4.6; 7. Rowdy Parrott, 4.7; 8. Stetson Jorgensen, 4.8.

Second round leaders:  1. (tie) Jacob Talley and Stetson Jorgensen, 3.7 seconds; 3. (tie) Will Lummus and Dalton Massey, 3.8; 5. Dakota Eldridge, 4.1; 6. (tie) Tyke Kipp and Zack Jongbloed, 4.3; 8. Luke Branquinho, 4.6.  Average leaders:  1. Dalton Massey, 8.0 seconds on two runs; 2. Luke Branquinho, 8.4; 3. Stetson Jorgenson, 8.5; 4. Dakota Eldridge, 9.0; 5. Zack Jongbloed, 9.2; 6. Kalane Anders, 10.1; 7. Tyke Kipp, 12.2; 8. Gabe Soileau, 15.8; 9. Dirk Tavenner, 17.0; 10. Justin Shaffer, 18.8.

Team roping: First round leaders: 1. Andrew Ward/Buddy Hawkins II, 5.2 seconds; 2. Cale Markham/Cody Doescher, 5.8; 3. Blake Teixeira/Jerren Johnson, 6.3; 4. Tate Kirchenschlager/Ross Ashford, 6.5; 5. Brent Mibb/Griffin Passmore, 6.7; 6. Rhett Anderson/Cullen Teller, 7.0; 7. Curry Kirchner/Chad Mathes, 7.1; 8. Tyler Waters/Derrick Jantzen, 7.6.

Second round leaders:  1. J.B. James Jr/Brock Hanson, 4.5 seconds; 2. (tie) Curry Kirchner/Chad Mathes and Tate Kirchenschlager/Ross Ashford, 6.5; 4. Cole Markham/Cody Doescher, 6.9; 5. Paul David Tierney/Matt Kasner, 10.1; 6. Andrew Ward/Buddy Hawkins, 12.0; 7. Garett Chick/Walt Woodard, 12.6; 8. Tyler Waters/Derrick Jantzen, 15.5.  Average leaders:  1. Cole Markham/Cody Doescher, 12.7 seconds on two runs; 2. Tate Kirchenschlager/Ross Ashford, 13.0; 3. Curry Kirchner/Chad Mathes, 13.6; 4. Andrew Ward/Buddy Hawkins, 17.2; 5. Garett Chick/Walt Woodard, 20.4; 6. Tyler Waters/Derrick Jantzen, 23.1; 7. Ryon Boatright/Tyrel Allen Taton, 24.1; 8. J.B. James Jr/Brock Hanson, 4.5 seconds on one run; 9. Blake Teixeira/Jerren Johnson, 6.3; 10. Brent Mibb/Griffin Passmore, 6.7.

Saddle bronc riding leaders: 1. Taos Muncy, 84 points on Vold Rodeo’s Jerry’s Delight; 2. (tie) Jacobs Crawley and Ross Griffin, 82.5; 4. Jake Finlay, 81.5; 5. Leon Fountain, 79.5; 6. (tie) Dean Wadsworth and Sterling Crawley, 78; 8. Trent Burd, 76.5.

Tie-down roping: First round leaders: 1. Riley Pruitt, 8.1 seconds; 2. Ike Fontenot, 8.8; 3. Ryan Jarrett, 9.4; 4. Marty Yates, 9.7; 5. Blake Deckard, 9.8; 6. Garrett Busby, 10.4; 7. Lane Livingston, 11.9; 8. Tuf Cooper, 12.6.

Second round leaders:  1. Zack Jongbloed, 7.9 seconds; 2. Kincade Henry, 8.0; 3. Cody McCartney, 8.3; 4. Marcos Costa, 8.5; 5. Blake Deckard, 8.7; 6. Ike Fontenot, 9.0; 7. (tie) Ryan Jarrett and Lane Livingston, 9.2; 9. Marty Yates, 9.9; 10. Garrett Busby, 11.1.  Average leaders:  1. Ike Fontenot, 17.8 seconds on two runs; 2. Blake Deckard, 18.5; 3. Ryan Jarrett, 18.6; 4. Marty Yates, 19.6; 5. Lane Livingston, 21.1; 6. Garrett Busby, 21.5; 7. Zack Jongbloed, 22.2; 8. Tuf Cooper, 26.4; 9. Riley Pruitt, 29.5; 10. Marcos Costa, 32.1.

Barrel racing: First round leaders: 1. Emily Miller, 16.95 seconds; 2. Kathy Grimes, 17.10; 3. Sarah Rau, 17.12; 4. Ceri Ward, 17.21; 5. Ryann Pedone, 17.25; 6. Keyla Polizello Costa, 17.29; 7. Sabra O’Quinn, 17.39; 8. Jennifer Driver, 17.40; 9. Jimmie Smith, 17.41; 10. Stevi Hillman, 17.42.  Second round leaders:  1. Cheyenne Wimberley, 16.80 seconds; 2. Stevi Hillman, 16.96; 3. Lois Ferguson, 17.02; 4. Leia Pluemer, 17.06; 5. Sabra O’Quinn, 17.08; 6. Kathy Grimes, 17.13; 7. Destri Devenport, 17.26; 8. (tie) Maggie Carter and Lacinda Rose, 17.32; 10. Abby Phillips, 17.35.  Average leaders:  1. Kathy Grimes, 34.23 seconds on two runs; 2. Stevi Hillman, 34.38; 3. Cheyenne Wimberley, 34.39; 4. Sabra O’Quinn, 34.47; 5. Lois Ferguson, 34.59; 6. Abby Phillips, 34.85; 7. Lacinda Rose, 34.89; 8. Nicole Waggoner, 34.94; 9. Keyla Polizello Costa, 35.02; 10. Destri Devenport, 35.03; 11. Margo Crowther, 35.08; 12. Abby Hepper.

Bull riding leaders: 1. Chance Ekins, 84.5 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Y02; 2. Braden Richardson, 79; no other qualified rides.