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Days of '47 Rodeo ends with thrills, big payouts

SALT LAKE CITY — On Pioneer Day, 70 cowboys and cowgirls competed for their shot at gold in front of a big crowd at the Days of ’47 Cowboy Games and Rodeo, held at the Utah State Fair Park. Participants, which qualified for the gold medal round in the four previous days of the rodeo, rode in their respective events for a shot at $50,000 and a gold medal — the prize given to the first-place winners.

The night started off with bareback riding, which was won by Wyatt Denny for the second year in a row. Denny rode horse Sozo all the way to a score of 88 — 3.3 points higher than the next closest cowboy.

“He is an outstanding bucking horse, guys that get on him, they win on him all the time. I was actually just blessed a week ago, I was in Sheridan, Wyoming, and I actually won the rodeo, I split it with my traveling partner on that horse. That moment right there is one of the cooler moments of my rodeo career. My traveling partner, he jumps out there, he’s 88, I’m right behind him and I jump out there and I’m 88 and we split the win, that’s pretty special, but probably to win this twice, two times in a row, that’s probably a little more special right now for me,” Denny said.

Taking silver was JR Vezain, who elected to have a re-ride — and he was rewarded for it, taking the silver medal with a score of 85 points. Ty Breuer claimed third place with 84.5.

In steer wrestling, Justin Shaffer had an exhilarating 4.2-second run to win $50,000. In second place was Rowdy Parrott, with 4.4 seconds, and claiming bronze was Bridger Anderson, who wrestled his steer in 4.6 seconds.

“It’s life-changing for me. It helps confidence, it helps the bank account, it helps it all,” Shaffer said.

Shaffer loved the Utah crowd.

“It was one-of-a-kind, I felt like. I haven’t been on all the big stages, but it’s a one-of-a-kind crowd. They do a great job setting this rodeo up,” Shaffer said.

The duo of Kellan and Carson Johnson won team roping with a time of 4.1 seconds. Kellan and Johnson, from Wyoming, are brothers and have been roping together since they were children.

“It’s a feeling that you can’t even describe. To have $100,000 back in our rig and to do it as brothers, it’s a great feeling,” Kellan said.

The chemistry between the two brothers helped lead to the win.

“We practice every day, pretty much. We grew up roping with each other, so I know what he’s going to do and he knows what I’m going to do,” Carson said.

Finishing in second with a time of 4.3 seconds was Matt Sherwood and Will Woodfin, and rounding out the top three was Riley Minor and Brady Minor, with a time of 4.4 seconds.

Cody DeMoss took home the saddle bronc riding crown with a score of 87.5, while Wyatt Casper won silver at a score of 86.5. Isaac Diaz took home bronze with a score of 86.

In tie-down roping, Cory Solomon took home the top prize of $50,000, with a time of 6.6. JC Malone was just a tenth of a second behind, at 6.7. Caleb Smidt rounded out the top three with a time of seven seconds.

In barrel racing, Hailey Kinsel had a gold-medal time of 17.09 seconds, with Lisa Lockhart earning the silver medal with a time of 17.19 seconds. Third place went to Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, who turned in a time of 17.24 seconds.

Derek Kolbaba took home top prize in bull riding, with a score of 89.5. Alisson De Souza took silver with an 87 and Garrett Smith earned bronze.