RENO - The Reno Rodeo starts its annual seven-day run Sunday at the Reno Livestock & Events Center.
Action will commence at 7 p.m. each night, and Reno Rodeo officials say that the final round on June 25 is almost sold out.
Fans will be treated to more than 800 cowboys and cowgirls competing in barrel racing, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, bareback riding and tied-down roping.
The defending champions - Jason Jeter (bareback), Ronnie Fields (steer wrestling), Steve Purcella and Britt Bockius (team roping), Billy Etbauer (saddle bronc riding), Trevor Brazile (tie-down roping), Paul Seay (barrel racing) and J.D. Hoagland (bull riding) - are expected to return.
Part of the Reno Rodeo is extreme bulls, and Wesley Silcox and Myron Duarte showed that they can be considered contenders Thursday night.
Silcox, currently ranked in the top 20, scored 172.5 for his two rides, including a 90-point effort aboard Spotted Jacket. Duarte, who was ranked 27th on the winter tour, had a 94-point ride aboard Tahonta, who hadn't been ridden in 39 previous trips. Duarte finished second.
Silcox and Duarte are obviously red-hot entering the event, but will get challenged by the likes of B.J. Schumacher, Zack Oakes, Bobby Welsh, Jason McClain, Matt Austin and Jason Legler. Hoagland is currently ranked 48th in the winter standings.
Etbauer is currently ranked 23rd in saddle bronc riding, but he's had great success in Reno. Dan Mortenson is seventh and Glen O'Neill, 13th. Both challenged Etbauer a year ago. Cody Wright, Ryan Mapston, Cody Demoss, Jeffrey Willert, Cody Martin and Bryce Miller have enjoyed success on the winter tour.
Jeter, who won one bareback round last year and tied for another, will have some healthy competition from Will Lowe, Royce Ford, Ryan Gray, Wes Stevenson and Bo Casper. Paul Jones of Elko is the only local contender.
Seay won barrel racing a year ago, but was ranked 38th as of mid-May's standings. June Holeman, Shalli Lord, Denise Fea, Liz Pinkston and Sherry Cervi were in the top five spots.
In steer wrestling, Fields was ranked 21st in May. He totaled 14.5 seconds for his two runs, good enough for the $9,574 first prize. As of mid-May, Jason Lehr, Dean Gorsuch, Chris Bradley, Garrett Nokes, Shawn Greenfield, Jeff Corbello and Stockton Graves occupied the top seven spots. Sean Mulligan and Frank Thompson also perforemed well in Reno last year.
Brazile had two good runs in tie-down roping last year en route to the title, but was only 18th as of mid-May. Purcella was the 22nd-rated header and Bockius was the 20th-best healer.
Darrell Moody can be reached at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281