In a young woman’s game, Danna Stover, 55, of Wilder, Idaho, showed that she had what it took to put forth a first place performance.
On the second-to-last run of the four-day card, Stovner clocked in at 17.71 seconds in the barrel race to secure top honors at the 50th anniversary Fort Dalles Days Pro-Rodeo Saturday at Milt Tumilson Arena in The Dalles.
After what had been a whirlwind week of rodeos with nothing to show for her efforts, Stovner did not feel she could get back to her winning ways.
“I was ready to go home. I have not done well at all, and I was ready to just call it a day,” she said. “It was frustrating because you feel like you are doing everything right, but you’re not getting the results. I am so happy. I can’t tell you what this does for my confidence.”
While facing younger contemporaries, Stovner knew the cards were stacked against her, so she had to elevate her practice time and become one with her mare.
“I just work hard. I know what I’m going against every time I go to a rodeo, so what I have to do is work harder than anyone else and hope for the best,” said Stovner, a 35-year rodeo veteran, after her win. “I am so pleased. I really needed this one tonight to give me confidence, to help me financially and show me that I still have what it takes to compete.”
Overall, four of the top times were put up Saturday.
After Stovner, Sammi Lane had a time of 17.74 for second place and Tommie Hoyecki was third with her 17.80.
Another Saturday participant, Britni Carlson had a 17.89 to finish tied for fourth with Stevie Rae Willis.
Tiffanie Greenup (17.90), Shane Falon (17.90), Jody Tucker (17.92), Jessica Lewis (17.93) and Cheyenne Allan (17.96) capped the top-10 in the standings.
Since their father Sonny passed away in 2011 in a tragic rodeo accident while coaching at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, twin brothers Chase and Clayton Hansen have dedicated every day, every practice and every rodeo to their guardian angel.
The 2012 Payette High School graduates put out a time of 4.8 seconds in the team roping event Thursday night and had to wait two days to find out if they were winners.
Saturday, Jake Minor and Garret Rogers inched as close as 5.0 and five other tandems tried their hand, but could not catch the Hansen brothers, who pocketed more than $1,700 apiece after their first win of the summer rodeo season.
Clayton could only smile thinking his father had something to do with it.
“Every run is for him. It has been three years now that he’s been gone. It’s different and it sucks, but it is part of life,” Clayton said. “We always have a good angel looking above us at all times. We just try to take it piece-by-piece, day-by-day and be happy. Someday, I am going to see him again. We look forward to it. That’s how we stay so positive and happy. Someday we are going to see him again and that is the best feeling to have.”
Even at the age of 21, the Hansen brothers have aspirations of turning professional on day.
For some cowboys, turning pro never comes around, others it takes until their 20s or 30s to achieve that elite status.
However long it takes, Clayton is ready to bide his time and pay his dues.
“It’s stepping stones. You have to work your way up,” Clayton said. “You battle through it and stay positive. Even when you’re down, you still have to be mentally strong. If you can stay in and work your way through, that’s what drives you to trying to be the best and live a dream of making it to the NFR. We are at the stage of trying to get to the top-50 and better. I believe we can do it. Hopefully, in a few years we can get there.”
Ryan Opie and Cully Stafford placed third with a team roping time of 5.3, and the team of John Hagler and Casey Awbrey grabbed fourth place in 5.8.
Bryan Reay and Chad McDaniel (6.3), Jake Staley and Bucky Campbell (6.3) and Jack Fischer and Brent Falon (6.5) rounded out the top of the field.
Just when it appeared as though Tristian Mahoney was set to cash in first place money in the tie-down roping division, Brady Brower dropped down and tallied a final time of 8.9 seconds to capture first place Saturday on the last day of events.
Mahoney had his 9.3 for second place, Kirby Cook (9.7) and Colton Campbell (9.7) ended up tied for third, Ty Sturza (10.1) was fifth place and Markus Hamlin (10.4) secured sixth place.
All told there were 20 bull riding competitors in three days, but John Marshall was the lone cowboy to register a score in his Saturday run.
While aboard a bull named Juicy, Marshall, out of McMinnville, was glued to his animal and tallied a 79 to take top honors and a check of $3,253.75.
“I was happy to see him ride the bull on Saturday night,” said board member Jake Grossmiller. “This rodeo company, Gold Buckle Rodeo Company, has a very good reputation for their rodeo stock. In the past few rodeos, they have only had one bull combined. We only had one. It is tough for these cowboys, but that is what makes it so exciting. Only the best rise to the top. This young man (Marshall) was the only one to get it done. That’s a credit to him, especially knowing the challenge.”
Nick Gutzwiler scored an 84 to win the bareback riding competition, as he bested Kyle Bounds (82), Noah Bayes (81), Cooper Clemens (75), Jed Pierson (74) and Blake Anglen (69).
Bryan Martinat took home top money for his 85 in the saddle bronc event. The Homedale, Idaho native scored a winning check of $1,026.24 for his efforts on a horse named Mr. Palmer.
Dawson Byrne (82), Nathan Duckworth (80), Cooper Dewitt (80), Jacob Stacy (77), Gary Alger (76), T.B. Hannan (74), Cameron Craig (73) and Justin Chappell (72) capped the top saddle bronc participants.
Stacy and Travis Carnine each finished with a time of 4.1 seconds to take home first place money in the steer wrestling event, and The Dalles native Shawn Wilkinson was third after his time of 4.9.
John Green (5.3), Colin Wolfe (5.4), Jesse Brown (5.8), Devon Burris (5.9) and BoDee Foster (6.0) each cashed placing checks, while Sam Shelton (6.5), Eric Knapp (6.6), Cody McCleary (6.7), B.J. Taruscio (7.3) and Chris Irzyk (7.7) also had times to fill out the top-13 cowboys.
Stacy, who placed fifth in the saddle bronc and tied for first in the steer wrestling earned All-Around Cowboy recognition and received a custom made saddle presented by long-time TD saddle maker, Bob Roy.
“Winning here means a lot. Winning anywhere really,” Stacy said in an earlier interview. “You know you are going to have to be very good to have a shot at it. Tonight (Thursday), I was lucky enough to come out ahead. I am happy about that.”
Saturday, 10 breakaway roping participants competed, with Bailey Minor holding a mark of 2.5 seconds.
Taighler Dougherty (3.5), April Vernon (5.6) and Morgan Yoder (6.0) were the only other cowgirls to score times.
Jordan Minor took home first place and a check for $2,053.90 after racking up a final mark of 2.1, and the duo of Hilary Vanderpas and Jamie Marts wound up tied for second place with their 2.3.
Bailey Minor (2.5), Brooke Brumley (2.8), Hailey Hall (2.9), Olivia Train (2.9), Jade Crossley (3.1), Jake Raley (3.2) and Bailey Bartlome (3.2) capped the top-10.
Once the stadium cleared, Grossmiller was proud of how everything transpired without a hitch.
He spreads that credit to everyone involved.
“The whole week and the hype of it being our 50th anniversary helped fill some seats,” Grossmiller said. “Thursday and Friday night, the gates were up and tonight (Saturday), it was full. I don’t know where we would have parked anybody else. It was a great tribute to a bunch of hard-working people in the Fort Dalles Radio Association for their 50 years of bringing rodeo to The Dalles.”