BIG HORN — One year after a winter storm pressured the Don King Days committee to stop after the first day of activities, the 2021 event lasted the full two days at the Big Horn Equestrian Center in Big Horn over Labor Day weekend, Sept. 4-5.
In steer roping, 32 ropers qualified for the four-head finals. After Sunday's first two rounds, only eight men had times on two steers. Troy Hubbard led after one day and had placed in each round.
Despite his lead, he couldn’t be blamed for looking over his shoulder at the two-time defending champion Will McBride of Nebraska just 1/10th of a second back in second place. TK Tillard won the first round in 14.9 seconds. McBride took the second in 13.0 seconds flat. The record is 10.5 seconds set by Will Yoakum in 2003.
Both days were sunny and hot, with temperatures in the 90s prevalent.
The second day was not kind to contenders, as five of the eight men who had times on two-head Saturday, took no-time on their third. Chris Glover moved into contention with a 14.5-second run to win the round.
The final round saw McBride holding a less than 7-second advantage over Colt Bruegman. Miles Williams was standing by in case either or both faltered.
In the end, only one roper prevailed. Will McBride was 21.4 to finish with 69.4 on four-head, the only man to tie all his steers down. He had a good possibility of beating Glen Barlows’ four-head record of 62.8 set in 1996, but finished in 69.9 seconds with the win, still the fastest time since Reo Lohse in 2013.
Just four years ago, McBride told organizers he felt he would become known as “that good steer roper who never won Don King Days." Now he basks in the glory of three in a row. Barlow, arguably one of the best ropers in Wyoming history, won five times at Don King Days but never back-to-back. Only two other ropers won back to back titles; Hank Taton in 1994-95 and Gib Bell in 2007-08.
TK Tillard was second with three steers caught in 45.4 seconds, “The King of Colorado” Chris Glover was third in 46.3 and Michael Mader was 48.1 for fourth place in the average. Winning two rounds in 2021 TK Tillard now has nine go-round victories in his career to tie Mike Lohof for the top spot.
The bronc riding was won by South Dakotan Travis Nelson scoring 167 points on two head to beat five other competitors.
Committee members include Cecile Pattison, Vicki Kane, Micah Olson, Marc Gilkerson and Sheila Blackburn.
Jim Thompson was the steer roping announcer for the 29th time.
Dalton Beasley returned to announce the bronc match. Timers were Dee Dee Dickinson and Tera Anderson. Melanie Jones was secretary. Ted Thompson was the field flag judge. Dean Finerty and Irv Bard handled the line.