Clovis News

Clovis Rodeo goes out in style

The 96th Clovis Rodeo on Sunday closed with a darling dash of local flavor; three brothers who not only all competed in saddle bronc riding, but with success; and yet the latest bang of a bull ride in this arena from Zack Oakes -- only this time with his body surgically repaired.

Three days after scoring a 10th-best time in the first go-round of barrel racing on a muddy surface, Fresno's Sheena Robbins -- in concert with temperatures that reached 80 -- blistered the day's top mark of 16.96 seconds and finished fourth overall.

The Wright brothers -- Alex, Jesse and 2008 world champion Cody -- placed second, fourth and eighth in saddle bronc riding.

And Oakes, a little more than two months after having bilateral hip surgery, registered Sunday's top score in bull riding -- finishing fourth overall and adding to Clovis Rodeo career prize winnings that he estimates at nearly $100,000 in seven years.

"I love Clovis," said Oakes, who placed 10th and 14th in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association standings the past two years with a smashed pelvis. "I think it's the best rodeo all year for me."

That's flattering considering he'll enter about 125 of them.

The Wrights are from Utah; Oakes from Washington, and they were appreciated by a crowd of around 8,000.

But it's one thing to represent your hometown, yet another to do so with excellence.

And Robbins delivered.

Wearing hot pink loop earrings on a day many participants and all rodeo officials flashed that color in some fashion in honor of breast cancer awareness (Oakes wore pink chaps, for example), she received a roaring crowd response when her time was displayed in red digital numbers on the east-side scoreboard.

"I was very impressed," said the 26-year-old Riverdale High graduate, who won $1,621.93 for the go-round's best time and a total of $2,780.90 overall. "They were super loud. That was pretty cool."

The crowd reaction was matched only by the one accorded earlier in the day to a hang-on ride by Clovis 5-year-old Mark Anthony Ensalaco in a victorious, 85-point journey in mutton busting.

Robbins, engaged on Christmas a couple weeks after qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas -- a priority for any cowboy or cowgirl -- actually stood in first place overall after posting the only 16-second time of the week in an event that calls for three turns around barrels and a final 165-foot sprint home.

But Texan Molly Powell (17.19), Californian Nellie Williams (17.29) and Montana's Rachael Myllymaki (17.07) followed with good enough scores to narrowly overcome her and finish 1-2-3 in the overall standings.

"I was excited," Robbins said, "but there were a lot of really good horses and girls to run, so you never know. I was kind of hoping [the time] would hold up."

Robbins remains loyal to Shorty, a 9-year-old gelding she's owned for nearly 6 years.

"He was really running smooth in the turns," she said, "so I knew he had clocked well."

Robbins, who made $82,000 on the circuit last year while finishing 11th-ranked in the world, said she plans on "rodeoing hard for a couple more years" before slowing down.

The ride's only accelerating for the Wrights, and no matter that oldest brother Cody has won $1.3 million in a 10-year career.

He actually has six younger brothers, and Jake -- Jesse's 20-year-old twin -- is expected to join the family road show soon.

"The rodeo's been good to me, and I think they've just seen how much fun I've had riding," Cody Wright said. "I guess [the rodeo] was a given the way we were raised. We were around horses on a little ranch, so I guess it was bound to happen, but I didn't know we'd all be bronc riders."

Brotherly love in competition?

"I'm not going to lie," Cody said, "I want to win first. But I want them to do good and win, also. And they did really good today."

Alex (86), Jesse (85) and Cody (81) couldn't chase down the 87 posted by South Dakota's Cody Taton in Friday's first go-round.

"Keep it in the family," Jesse Wright said. "I don't care who wins as long as it's one of us."