LOCAL RODEA SEASON TAKES OFF
By Pat Perkins
Observer Staff Writer
UNION Three of the top-ranked cowboys in the nation are scheduled to compete this weekend at the 95th annual Eastern Oregon Livestock Show.
Calf roper Blair Burk, bareback rider Cody Jessee and saddle bronc rider Dan Mortensen have signed up to show their stuff in the Union arena.
The rodeo begins at 4 p.m. Friday and continues with 1:30 p.m. shows Saturday and Sunday.
Jessee, from John Day, leads the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association with $34,216 in bareback earnings.
Burk, from Durant, Okla., has $53,718 in calf roping earnings, while Mortensen, from Billings, Mont., leads the saddle bronc with $60,633 in earnings.
Burk finished second in the average to Fred Whitfield at last week's Old Fort Days Rodeo in Fort Smith, Ark., after winning the second round and $2,992.
Burk's stop in Union comes a week before he looks to defend his title during the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Cup Finale June 13-15 in Las Vegas.
Several other nationally ranked cowboys and barrel racers are entered in Union, including last year's EOLS bareback champion, Bobby Mote of Redmond.
Mote had the high score of 82 points on Flying 5 Rodeo Company's Bay Lady last year, earning $1,396. He's ranked 10th in the world this week with $23,815 in earnings.
Shawn Greenfield of Pasco, Wash., won $2,022 while winning the steer wrestling last year, and he's looking to improve on his No. 6 ranking in the Columbia River Circuit standings.
EOLS bull riding champion Cody Bequeath of Caldwell, Idaho, had the high score of 87 last year on El Smacko, and he's back for another go.
Other top-10 nationally ranked cowboys and cowgirls entered this week include: Amy Dale, Graham, Wash., seventh in barrel racing, $22,189; and Jess Martin, Dillon, Mont., seventh in saddle bronc, $22,601.
B.J. Campbell of Benton City, Wash., is ranked 12th nationally in the all-around and is entered in steer wrestling and team roping in Union.