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Rookie bull rider earns win on 1st night of Days of ’47

Utah rodeo is considered one of the nation’s best

SHARE Rookie bull rider earns win on 1st night of Days of ’47

Rookies in the rodeo circuit generally don't get tagged as a favorite right away, especially in the sport's most difficult and revered event — bull riding.

But such was the case of baby-faced Coby Wheeldon, of Jackson Hole, Wyo., who won the event in the first night of the Days of '47 Rodeo at the Delta Center Monday night.

Wheeldon, a Professional Bull Riders rookie, won the first round of bull riding with a score of 81, which will carry over throughout the rest of the rodeo (through July 24) to be considered a top finisher against other riders' scores.

"I knew I had a good bull and I was never out of position," said Wheeldon. "I'm lucky to be here. This is the best of the best."

And one of those "best" Wheeldon referred to was Mike White of De Kalb, Texas, who entered the event as one of the bull riding favorites. The bull White rode Monday was the first he had mounted for six months since recovering from a riding injury.

White's race ended early after he was thrown off and landed on his neck. The scare lasted 10 minutes as White lay on the ground with a sports medicine crew attending to him. He was later taken to a hospital.

In the team roping event, only two teams were successful in roping both of their calf's legs and head. Charles Pogue and Britt Bockius did it in 5.8 seconds for the second year in a row.

"The calves were bigger and harder to catch in this pen," Bockius said.

In other events, Randy Suhn (North Glenn, Colo.) won steer wrestling in 5.1 seconds. Todd Loesch of Fort Worth, Texas, took top honors in calf roping (9.1 seconds) and Tona Wright finished first in Girl's Barrel Racing (12.92 seconds). Jess Martin of Dillion, Mont., won the saddle bronc riding event with a score of 79.

Salt Lake has participated in rodeos for over 80 years, said Brad Harmon, Days of '47 Rodeo Chairman.

"Rodeo was completely different back then," he said. "People used to participate because they could win a new saddle. It wasn't a sport back then."

Rodeo became a professional sport in the mid-1950s.

"We (Salt Lake) have been a part of that evolution," said Harmon.

The Days of '47 Rodeo is considered one of the top rodeos in the country — top 30, according to Harmon.

The rodeo is part of the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association and participants are representative of the Intermountain West region.

"It's a big honor to be here . . . everyone here is at least top 20 in the nation," said Cody Martin, who finished third in saddle bronc riding.

The event continues Tuesday through Saturday at the Delta Center with events beginning at 7 p.m. Finals for most of the events will be Monday, July 24, at 4 p.m.

E-mail: cpett@desnews.com