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Fallon’s ‘Sterling’ Joe leads steer wrestling event at Reno Rodeo

BY DARRELL MOODY

Appeal Sports Writer

RENO ” When he was attending Churchill County High School, “Sterling” Joe Lambert was king of the high school steer wrestlers with three straight Nevada titles.

Now he’s making his presence felt as a professional.

Lambert won $2,400 at Redding, Calif., in mid-May, and he has his sights set on cashing another good check this week at the 89th annual Reno Rodeo at the Reno Livestock Events Center.

The 22-year-old Lambert is off to a good start, posting a two-round total of 10.4 Sunday, including a night-best of 5.3. He is currently in first place, though that score probably won’t hold up. He needs to finish in the top 12 to make Saturday’s finals.

“I’ve drawn a couple of good horses,” Lambert said. “I had a good horse, too. I’m riding a horse that belongs to a friend [Billy Bugenis]. I’ve been riding him all spring. When you go to a big rodeo [like this], you want to be on a horse that gives you the best chance.”

The 10.4 is Lambert’s best two-round total in Reno. Last year he was around the 14-second mark.

“I should be back Saturday,” Lambert said. “That’s what the rest of the guys are telling me. It was good going back-to-back [morning and evening]. A lot of guys like to do that. It’s pretty neat to compete with the best in the world. All of them are really good guys.”

Lambert, who is currently attending Feather River College, didn’t compete in rodeo this year. He plans on competing next fall. Until then, he’ll compete in rodeos on the West Coast.

And, if he keeps performing like he did this week, he”ll go back to school with some money in his pockets.

Meanwhile, Chris Harris moved into second place in bareback riding with a first-round 82 aboard Bay Lady, which put him one point behind Tim Shirley, who scored an 83 on his second ride Saturday night. Shirley finished with 164 on two rides.

“I got a little behind at the end,” Harris said. ” I’d like to get that horse all the time. That’s half the battle [getting a good horse]. All of us pretty much ride the same. You have to be lucky to get one of the good ones. “

Jared Smith and Caleb Bennett each scored an 81, while Steve Dent, currently the No. 1 bareback rider in the world, scored an 80.

Now it’s wait time for Harris, but he won’t be idle. He’ll be competing in several rodeos between now and Saturday when he hopefully will compete in the finals.

Harris drew Rio’s Edge for his second ride tonight.

“It’s a good horse,” Harris said. “I know that horse. I have seen it.”

Harris’ performance was amazing considering he participated in a special roughstock event in Africa. He returned on June 20 and came to Reno two days later.

Cody DeMoss, who was in Africa with Harris, rode Rosser Rodeo’s Hail Mary for 81 points, which tied 2006 world champ Chad Ferley for the top saddle bronc score.

Ferley and DeMoss moved into a tie for third in the first round behind Anthony Bello with an 86 and Justin Arnold with an 85. Harris, DeMoss and Ferley will all return tonight for their second rides.

Colby Schneemann and Tommy Zuniga turned in the quick time of the night in the team roping with a time of 6.4 seconds. That moved them into a tie for second with Jake Stanley and Marty Becker , who turned in a 6.4 on opening night. Jake and Jim Ross Cooper are still atop the leaderboard with a time of 6.3 seconds.

Big names were on top in tie-down roping.

Monty Lewis, the 2004 world champion, had the best time on Monday with a 9.4, which is good for second place. He trails Cade Swor, who had first-round 9.1.

The first round will conclude on Monday morning during slack, with the second round getting underway on Monday evening.

Bull rider Sonny Murphy, who missed the entire 2007 season because of a neck injury, turned in a sensational performance last night. Murphy, aboard Pretty Boy Floyd from Rosser Rodeo, tallied a 90 to earn the lead.

Murphy was stepped by Pretty Boy Floyd and was taken to a local hospital for observation.

Defending Reno Rodeo champion Wesley Silcox scored the second-highest mark with an 87 on Flying U Rodeo’s Mr. Bond. Silcox will return on Saturday for the finals.

– Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or (775) 881-1281