Thunderbird leaves Silverdale satisfied

Shane Ahrens of Roy, Wash. holds on last Friday evening as Hit Man tries to leave the chutes the wrong way during the Thunderbird Benefit Rodeo at the Fairgrounds. - photo by Jesse Beals
Shane Ahrens of Roy, Wash. holds on last Friday evening as Hit Man tries to leave the chutes the wrong way during the Thunderbird Benefit Rodeo at the Fairgrounds.
— image credit: photo by Jesse Beals

About five minutes before his run in the bull riding event, Shane Ahrens got a little extra to think about.

Twice his bull, Hitman, tried to jump out of his holding stall, one time nicking the flagging official with one of his gigantic hooves. And this was while Ahrens was mounted.

“That just gets me going,” the cowboy from Roy, Wash., said. “It gets my adrenaline going.”

Although Ahrens didn’t get his ride in the stall counted, he was still able to ride Hitman to a score of 76, good enough for third place overall.

The first Northwest Professional Rodeo Association sanctioned rodeo at the Kitsap Fairgrounds, the Thunderbird Benefit Rodeo, which took place last Friday and Saturday, served many purposes aside from the entertainment it provided. The rodeo was a benefit for the Kitsap County Boys and Girls Club and Corey’s Day on the Farm.

Event organizers and announcers Don Frazier and Colen Corey both said that was a nice added bonus to hosting Kitsap’s first pro rodeo.

“This is going to be successful enough to give some money away,” Corey said. “I’m just happy to give something back to those worthy causes.”

“Especially since it’s for the kids,” Frazier added. “That’s what we’re interested in the whole time.”

The rodeo itself proved to be full of intensity, with just two bull riders completing their runs on opening night, Ahrens and Clint Johnson, who took the day one high score with a ride of 80.

Locally, brothers Gary Bruhn Jr. and Shad Bruhn of Port Orchard competed in the team roping competition, while Gary also rode saddle bronc. Silverdale’s Lylan Corey competed in the breakaway roping competition, as did another Port Orchard resident, Randi Tostenrude. Poulsbo was represented by Dawn Oien and Stephanie Ryan in the barrel racing event, which Seabeck’s Debbie Wells also rode in.

Some of the NPRA’s to riders competed in the rodeo, including Mason Stafford, the top bareback rider on the circuit as of the June 14 standings.

“It was really important for the rodeo to have that kind of talent,” Corey said. “And a lot of these kids Colen and I have worked with for a long time.”

In bareback riding, Daniel Elsitty came out on top with a score of 73, edging Kent’s John Schultz, who scored 70. Elsitty won $454.58 in the event. Lynn Bremner took barrel racing in a time of just 17.04 seconds to earn $546.25. In breakaway roping, it was Kennewick’s Jennifer Casey, who logged a low time of 2.5 seconds. She won $619.88 for her efforts.

Dan Morse claimed the bull riding crown, and $806.10 prize, with a ride of 87. Just seven riders were able to hang on long enough to qualify. Tony Green won calf roping with a time of 9.18 seconds, netting a $537.23 purse. Robert Shannon, of Ellensburg, dwarfed the competition in saddle bronc riding, scoring a 79. Runner-up Levi Bunch scored just 46. Enumclaw’s John Hall won the steer wrestling competition in 6 .03 seconds, while Chad McDaniel and John Hagler teamed up for the team roping title.

Port Orchard’s Hanna Hathaway, 17, was the first Queen of the Thunderbird Rodeo. She was just excited to be a part of it.

“It’s just awesome,” Hathaway said. “It can’t get any better than this. I’m drawn in by the rodeo just by itself. So to do something (for the charities) is just rewarding.”

She also said she was excited to be involved in Kitsap’s first pro rodeo.

“Plus it was the first one ever, so that’s even better,” Hathaway said. “I’ll always be remembered as the first one. So I’m having a blast out here.”

While the crowd was not as large as expected Friday night, the event was packed Saturday.

“The people that came out here saw themselves a darn good rodeo,” Frazier said.

Ahrens said it was nice to ride for a cause.

“It’s part of the circuit too, but I’ve known these guys growing up,” Ahrens said. “I went to the first Corey’s Day at the Farm. So it is nice.”

Corey said he was happy to watch his niece compete, even though she just missed the cut when her rope slipped off the calf’s ear.

“That was wonderful,” Corey said. “She’s such a talent. I watch her rope all the time.”

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