ALBERTA

Stage set for Calgary Stampede's finale after wild-card qualifiers

07/13/2013 11:58 EDT | Updated 09/12/2013 05:12 EDT
CALGARY - They travel together, they ride together, and on Saturday, they qualified for the Calgary Stampede's finale together.

Tanner Byrne and Ty Pozzobon both earned spots for Sunday's bull-riding final, with Byrne riding Burn It To The Ground, a new addition to the Stampede's stable.

"I thought I had the draw of the day out of everybody," said Byrne. "I came through, and did my job, and we won the round."

The 86.5 point mark netted the 21-year-old $6000, to go along with his $2500 from earlier in the week. Byrne rode with much more confidence than he had at the beginning of his first Stampede.

"I was a little nervous, had the jitters kind of, with all these people, and being my first time here. I didn't do too good at the start, and I realized it's just a bull and it's just another rodeo. So roll on and win the big bucks."

Byrne was cheering the loudest when Pozzobon racked up 85 points on Pawn Star. While Seth Glause and Luke Snyder posted the same mark on their rides, Pozzobon got the nod for Sunday, because he'd won more money in the go-rounds. And that was good news for both of them.

"We get more excited for each other than for ourselves. It's pretty cool," said Byrne.

Pozzobon wasn't as pumped about his bull going into Saturday's action.

"I was kind of the opposite of Tanner, actually. I wasn't overly excited about Pawn Star," said the Merritt, B.C., native. "Not taking anything away from him. He bucks really hard, but he's not really known as a rider-friendly bull, especially for left-handed guys. Luckily, he started to the right, and back to the left, which played into my favour, and everything worked out. Tanner going right before me also put a bit of fire underneath me as well to make sure I did my job."

Byrne, from Prince Albert, Sask., confirms the two would be having the same gameplan for Sunday preparations.

"We'll be pretty excited, we travel together on the road all year, so we'll be hanging out tonight, and hopefully get a good rest, and win $100,000 tomorrow."

In tie-down roping, Cory Solomon roped his calf in 6.6 seconds for first place and $6000, while Fred Whitfield was in next with a 7.1, for $5000, in a round with only four qualified ties.

"It just didn't work out in the first four (rounds), and I got it done today," said Whitfield, a two-time Stampede champion. "I knew that calf was pretty good but I didn't think she was going to run as hard as she did. I thought I got a decent start and that calf was way out in front of me. That's as far as I've reached for one in a long time," he chuckled. "But it was do or die. If I didn't throw it then, I was going to be too far down the arena to have a chance to make it back."

In the steer wrestling, there was a trio of cowboys who got the job done in 3.8 seconds, on a day when only two can 'win'. Trevor Knowles — a two-time Stampede champion — and Jake Rinehart were the lucky ones to advance, on the basis of money won in the rounds. Four-time World Champion Luke Branquino missed out, but still picked up $5000.

The fastest two barrel racers of the day were Trula Churchill with a 17.69 second run, and Jean Winters, with her time of 17.86. They'll join the eight best from Pools A and B in Sunday's championship.

Michael Solberg had to change his travel plans after eight seconds with Twin Cherry in the bareback riding, worth 88.5 points and $5000.

Justin McDaniel was even a half point higher than that, scoring 89 on Soap Bubbles for the highest payday of the round, at $6000, and he too, gets to ride on Sunday.

It was an unusual off day of saddle bronc riding, with plenty of re-rides. But when the whistle blew on the last one, a pair of 86's topped the leaderboard. Chad Ferley got his on Redon Acres, while Wade Sundell rode Dark Side. They each get an additional $5500.

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