Eagle County Rodeo: Rough stock vs. rough guys | VailDaily.com

Eagle County Rodeo: Rough stock vs. rough guys

Randy WyrickDaily Staff WriterVail, CO Colorado

EAGLE, Colorado – It’s rough guys versus rough stock at this week’s Eagle County Fair & Rodeo, with no one sure whose side the beer is on.Les Ohlhauser will handle the announcing again this year as he has for many years. He said he has never seen a field like this.”It’s going to be broncs versus cowboys, and it’s going to be good,” he said.Of the 350 contestants, this year’s field boasts 241 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo appearances and 41 world titles, including the past 10 world championship bronc riders, Ohlhauser said.Allan Bach qualified for the world championships 24 times and won four. Billy Etbauer has five world titles in 12 finals appearances. Mike Johnson has been to the world finals 24 times. Spud Duval is a world-champion steer wrestler. Marlene McRae owns multiple world-champion barrel-race titles. Joel Schlegel is a local cowboy, raised in Burns. He had a great college rodeo season, Ohlhauser said.”This kid is hungry,” Ohlhauser said. “He’s drawn one of the top broncs in the world, and I’m putting my money on Joel.”One evening’s performance is loaded with National Finals cowboys, cowgirls and stock. Ohlhauser is a professional rodeo announcer and auctioneer. He did the research, but he’s not tipping his hand about which night. They’ll all be good, he said.Cowboys who try to rest on the laurels of world titles won’t rest for long. They’ll be picking themselves up from the arena floor.”All those cowboys and cowgirls draw different stock every time out,” Ohlhauser said. “Every animal has a different personality, and it’s a new experience every time the gate swings open.”Some of it’s the cowboy, and half is the animal he drew to ride. “Pete Carr has brought them his A team, and the cowboys have to bring their A game to keep up,” Ohlhauser said. “Restaurants are rated up to five stars, and when you go to a Pete Carr rodeo, five stars is what you get.”Ryan Gray rode Grass Dancer to a world-record score of 94 in last year’s bareback bronc event. Lost in the hoopla were the other outstanding scores and that Gray needed a world record to win.”That night had an 89, which would win most rodeos, a 91 then another 91, which would win all rodeos. Then Gray hit his 94,” Ohlhauser said. “How would you like to call home and tell them you were riding second with a 91?”