RENO - Matt Marvel said the Reno Rodeo is the most stressful one of the season.
That's not surprising when you consider Marvel, a Battle Mountain native and currently ranked 11th in the world in saddle bronc riding, is competing in front of the hometown folks.
Marvel, who has made the finals two times in his career, is in a position to make it three after posting a 77 Wednesday night for a two-ride total of 162, which puts him in second place, four points ahead of Fallon's David Howard (158), who competed on Monday and Tuesday.
There is still one group left to compete. The top 12 will make it to Saturday's finals.
"He (the horse) started really good," said Marvel, whose first-go 81 was changed to an 85 by the judges. "He started to weaken at the end; wasn't bucking as strong. He's really young.
"Next to winning the NFR (National Finals Rodeo), this would be the biggest. It's more stressful. You get kind of nervous."
Marvel and the rest of the field are likely to be chasing Cody Demoss, who has put together rides of 87 on Tuesday and 80 aboard Rolling Cloud on Wednesday. The world's top rider had his score on Tuesday changed from 85 to 87.
"I'm feeling pretty good," Demoss said. "I've got a nice little lead on these guys.
"Last night I had a fun horse. Tonight I still had a really good horse. I could have ridden a lot better. This year has gone all right. I've only won one rodeo. I've been nickel and diming. I'd really like to win a few."
There is quite a dogfight in bareback bronc riding with two groups having completed their two rides. The last group will compete tonight and Friday. The top 12 will be in the short go on Saturday.
Davey Shields put together rounds of 84 and 80 on Monday and Tuesday, and he is one point ahead of Rowdy Buechner, who had an 82 and 81 in his two efforts.
"You've got to like that (two 80-plus rounds)," Buechner said, accepting congratulations from his competitors. "I've had two 80s to start a lot, but I've gotten low checks or no checks. These were two of the best horses I've ever drawn.
"The horse did what I expected. I was glad to have him today. They have had a good group of horses here. It (consecutive 80s) doesn't happen everyday. You have to take advantage of what you're doing."
Buechner was out first on Wednesday night, but he said it doesn't matter when he rides.
"You just hope the judges see what you do," Buechner said. "I've come out first the first two rides and it's worked out well."
Cousins Heath Ford (159) and Royce Ford (158) are sitting in the third and fourth spots, and both are good bets for the short go on Saturday night.
Heath Ford, who started with an 81 on Tuesday, came back with a respectable 78.
"I felt good," Ford said. "I didn't know the horse again. I just thank God for keeping me healthy. I've been riding with a lot of tape. I'm right where I want to be. I've never made the short round here. I'm proud the good Lord put me in this position.
"Davey Shields is riding real well right now. I've just got to do what I do. Hopefully I can get something in the mid-80s and see what happens."
Eric Swenson (157), Cody Demers (157), Andy Martinez (156), Will Lowe (154), Wes Stevenson (154) and Scott Montague are at 154, and challenging for a spot in the finals.
Bull riders had a tough night, as only three riders posted scores. The round winner was the last rider of the night, B.J. Schumacher, who posted an 84. Brian Curtis scored an 80 and Ryan Brown had a 65.
"He was a pretty good bull," Schumacher said. "He turned back and was pretty fast. He's just what I needed."
Steer wrestling enjoyed its best night thus far.
Birch Negaard was timed in 4.1, tying him with Brad Gleason. Linn Churchill recorded a 5.3, Beau Franzen was timed in 5.5 and Shawn Greenfield turned in a 6.1, all respectable scores.
Team roping was a disappointment, as only one team was able to post a score. Jared Standridge and Jory Levy posted a 6.6.
The barrel racing has four riders - Laurie Sutton (34.46), Kelly Kaminski (34.54), Shali Lord (34.59) and Tiffany Fox (34.60) - within .14 seconds of each other. Kelli Kirkland's 16.97 is still the fastest in the event.
Cody Owens (11.4) was the fastest in tie-down roping on Wednesday and Troy Trimble recorded an 11.7.
Notes: The Reno Rodeo Foundation awarded its first post-graduate scholarship. Erin Lubbe, a University of Nevada graduate, was the recipient. She will attend Colorado State University's veterinary program ... The foundation, along with Washoe County and roper/developer Perry DiLoreto donated $900,000 to the Kids' Kottage... The Cow Horse Show is scheduled for 8 a.m. today and team penning will be held Friday at 7 a.m.
Darrell Moody can be reached at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281