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Mission Mountain rodeo kicks off summer season in Polson

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POLSON — Under partly cloudy afternoon skies, summer was officially rung in by the arrival of the Mission Mountain Rodeo. 

Sanctioned by the Northern Rodeo Association (NRA), the rodeo pulled out all the stops, full of events from bareback riding to breakaway, and even some talented travelling trick riders. Friday evening kicked off with rodeo kids taking on mutton busting and closed the evening with a concert under the stars performed by Northern Lights out of Missoula. 

One attendee was Arlee local Tyler Pierre. A fifth-generation bull rider, rodeo is in his blood. 

“My grandpa used to rodeo, all my uncles and my mom used to rodeo,” Pierre explained. “I like the thrill, a little bit of adrenaline rush that comes with it.”

Pierre started off mutton busting himself at about eight years old, and after a small break, has been rodeoing ever since. Growing up, he tried several different rodeo events, but after bronc riding and team roping, decided bulls were his favorite. 

“It’s a lot closer to the ground with bulls than broncs, so not as far to fall,” Pierre laughed as he explained his choice. “And with roping, I always had that fear of my saddle coming off. Honestly I’d rather get bucked off or thrown off.” 

Now a father himself, Pierre’s kids are keeping up the tradition by participating in the rodeo’s mutton busting youth event. His son, he says, is eager to start riding bulls like his dad. 

This was Pierre’s first year at an NRA rodeo, and he was among the riders on Saturday night. 

First place in bull riding this year was Polson’s Payton Fitzpatrick with 84 points, followed by Ronan’s Wynn Wells with 79, Kyler McDonald from Ronan with 78, and Grey Fitzpatrick from Polson with 71.

In bareback riding, Chester’s Trevor Kay took first with a score of 156/2, followed by Bucky McAlpine from Anaconda with 144/2.

Saddle bronc riding was won by Garrett Cunningham from Broadus with a score of 145/2, followed by Rexburg’s Carson Klingler with a score of 60/1. 

In steer wrestling, Bozeman’s Tyler Houle took first with a time of 8.8, followed by Taten Erickson from Hobson with a time of 27.4.

In tie down roping, Coltin Rauch from Essex took first with a time of 9.3, followed by Tim Bagnell of Polson and Quinn McQueary of Belgrade who tied for second/third with a time of 11.8. Taten Erickson won fourth with a time of 12.1, followed by Cash Trexler of Corvallis with a time of 12.3.

In team roping, Essex’s Brandon Glumbik and Shawn Little took first with a time of 6.6, followed by Herb Harris and Scott McAlister from Hot Springs with a time of 8.3. Browning’s Polite Pepion and Justin Boggs took third with a time of 11.1, Ronan’s Nick and Koy McAlister took fourth with a time of 15.6, and Pablo’s Hoss Pepion and Jake Bell came in fifth with a time of 16.6.

In ladies barrel racing, Molly Salmond from Choteau won with a time of 17.29, followed by Darby Haskins from Superior with a time of 17.37, Philipsburg’s Rachel Ward with a time of 17.57, Abby Knight from Charlo with a time of 17.62, and Heather Dunning from Arlee with a time of 17.67. Rene Cloninger from Helena took sixth place with a time of 17.70, followed by Polson’s Paige Johnston in seventh with a time of 17.74, and Heidi Schmid from Kalispell in eighth with a time of 17.86.

Ladies breakaway was won by Bella Fossum of Billings with a time of 3.6, followed closely by Choteau’s Charley Yeager with a time of 3.7, then Nichole Lake from Polson with a time of 5.1 and Cate Hepper from Bozeman with a time of 7.1. Molly Salmond took fifth with a time of 11.9, while Superior’s Darby Haskins and Stevensville’s Nicole French tied for sixth/seventh place with a time of 12.3, and Sydney Berquist from LaCrosse took eighth with a time of 12.8.

On the junior rodeo side of things, junior barrel racing was won by Helena’s Tye Brown with a time of 17.70, followed by Grace Lenhardt of Helena with a time of 17.96, Charlo’s Brielle Zempel with a time of 18.38, and Madison Harris of Richland and Landyn Hughes of Polson tied for fourth/fifth place with a time of 18.88.

Finally, junior breakaway roping was won by Grace Lenhardt with a time of 3.3, followed by Madison Harris with a time of 3.9, Saylor Langan from Glendive with a time of 4.1, and Bailey Billingsley of Glasgow with a time of 4.4.

“Rodeo is something fun,” Pierre said. “It’s kind of been a dying sport; only a handful of people actually compete in rodeos, and it’s a sport I wouldn’t want to see go away.”

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