Throughout the final night of one of the most exciting Ute Mountain Roundups in recent memory, local competitors took to the arena at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds much to the delight of their hometown fans.
Among the largest ovations were given to Lewis, Colorado resident and former Dolores High School rodeo star Tanner Lockhart, who competed in the saddle bronc event that he has excelled in for several years.
Riding a horse called Never Forget, last year’s Rookie of the Year on the Mountain State Circuit quickly settled into his saddle out of the gate and kept his shoulders square throughout what looked to be a near-perfect ride.
“You’re got to get behind him, rodeo fans,” announcer Jody Carper implored, as Lockhart rode. “You’ve got to help him.”
After the eight-second buzzer sounded and Lockhart slid off his bucking beast, local fans voiced their appreciation with loud claps and ruckus cheers. In response, the Lewis, Colorado, native tipped his hat and acknowledged a few family members and friends.
As the judges formulated their scores, Carper suggested that the arena record might be in jeopardy and that two-time world champion Taos Muncy’s Night 2 score of 83 points would be surpassed.
The judges did not see things as positively, however, and awarded Lockhart a score of 78 points, which put him in third place overall. As soon as the score flashed on the big-board, audience members emitted loud boos.
“If you didn’t like it, you’ve got to boo with some authority,” Carper said. “Let the judges know that you want them to change the score.”
Although the boos grew louder after Carper’s comment, the scores never changed, and after Zachariah Phillips delivered a score of 80.50 points later in the evening, Lockhart was pushed to fourth place overall.
Not long after Lockhart’s performance, a second local cowboy, Zane Yates, entered the arena to compete in the team roping event. Paired with Gallup, New Mexico, cowboy Tyler Montano, the nephew of former rodeo chairman Rob Yates drew large cheers, but failed to score when the calf escaped.
In the barrel racing event, Cortez, Colorado cowgirl Autumrain Chee started well with near-perfect turns around the first two barrels. A wide turn around the third barrel derailed the accomplished rider however, as she settled for a time of 18.51 seconds.
“Good run, good run,” said Carper, after the former Dine College student crossed the finish line. She’ll be back. She’s talented.”
Other locals competing on the third night of the Ute Mountain Roundup included Dolores barrel racer Amber Moore, who finished with a time of 18.55 seconds, and Cortez bull rider Darren Kee, who was bucked off before the eight-second horn by a bull known as Cajun Heat.
“That little bull is as mad as Hillary Clinton on election night,” Carper commented. “He has only been successfully ridden once in his life and that was by world champion Sage Kimzey.”
After Kee’s bull riding performance, the Ute Mountain Roundup concluded with a few more bull rides, a rousing playing of “God Bless America,” and some closing words from Carper about the success of this year’s event.
Clearly pleased with what they had seen, fans exited the Montezuma County Fairgrounds arena with smiles on their faces and memories of what will go down as one of the most exciting rodeos in Cortez history.