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Competition heats up as gates open on rodeo action

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POLSON — Hundreds of rodeo fans strolled through the Polson Fairground gates for the return of the action-packed Mission Mountain rodeo last weekend. 

“A lot of work has gone into getting it back,” said Polson Fairgrounds secretary Una Rose Graham. “It’s great to see all the people out. We have been cooped up for way too long.”

The 80th Mission Mountain Rodeo provided spectators with a lot of excitement. About 100 cowboys and cowgirls from around Northwestern Montana participated in calf roping, barrel racing, steer wrestling, team roping, bronc riding and bull riding. 

Local little cowboys and cowgirls got into the action as they tried riding a wriggly sheep or snorting mini-bull. On Friday evening, rodeo fans danced the night away to the music of Bob Wire as he performed his style of music described as “maximum honkytonk.” 

Also on Friday night, Arlee saddle bronc rider Charles Lytle won top cash as he wowed the crowd with a 76-point ride after running into a string of bad luck broncs resulting in four re-ride attempts on the night. Tyler Friend, of Arlee, picked up a second-place saddle bronc check with a 73-point ride.

Blade Elliott, of St. Ignatius, scored a winning 73-point ride in the bareback event. Ronan team roping duo Dustin Datisman and Josh Harris posted a 7.5 second time for third place. Charlo barrel racer Abby Knight raced to a first-place finish with a time of 17.46 seconds and tied for third in the ladies breakaway. 

Hallie Sohr, of Ronan, finished fourth in the breakaway. Charlo junior barrel racer Brielle Zemple placed third followed by Landyn Hughes of Polson in fourth.

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