Rookie standout, Nebraska native Garrett Shadbolt rides into first on opening night

Garrett Shadbolt of Merriman rides Sure Motion in the bareback riding portion of the Buffalo Bill Rodeo on Wednesday at Wild West Arena in North Platte. Shadbolt is the unofficial leader after the first round of competition.

Garrett Shadbolt has been in the lab, and so far has produced a formula for success.

The rookie of the year hopeful — who has a chemistry degree from Doane College — continued his impressive season Wednesday on opening night of the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte.

The Nebraska bareback rider out of Merriman gave the home-state fans something to cheer about in the first event of the night, riding the horse Sure Motion to an unofficial score of 80.5, putting him atop the leaderboard after the first round of competition.

"You know, that horse, she has a little bit to her as bareback riders would say," Shadbolt said. "She kind of took a long run, and when she broke over and started bucking, she came around in a tight circle. That makes it really hard to spur straight back when your horse in bending in a corner. She sure yanked the crap out of me."

The 23-year-old’s ride on Wednesday is a continuation of a great rookie season, as he currently sits No. 26 overall and has earned $22,580.40 so far. Being able to compete in his home state and in front of his family is something Shadbolt cherishes.

"It’s nice to be in hometown Nebraska. I’ve been to North Platte a lot, so I’m pretty used to it and it feels pretty good being here," he said. "My dad, who’s here tonight, started riding bareback horses a long time ago, and I’m following in his footsteps."

While a promising bareback rider, Shadbolt’s other interest gives him an interesting background.

"I’ve always wanted to be a scientist since I was little," he said. "I went to college originally to wrestle and rodeo, and wanted to get a degree while I was there. Chemistry caught my interest the most and knew it’d be a good degree to have to make money in the future. I wanted to get the most out of college as I could."

While chemistry trained Shadbolt’s mind, his wrestling background prepared his body for the physical rigors of professional rodeo.

"(Wrestling) helps a lot. I think for me, it’s been one of the biggest things that’s prepared me for bareback," he said. "From the extreme physical aspect, your body gets in really good shape and is exposed to a lot of force. But, actually the mental is more important. You really learn mental toughness in wrestling and it takes a lot of mental toughness to ride bareback horses."

Unofficial results


First round (slack and first performance)

Bareback riding

1. Garrett Shadbolt, Merriman, Neb. 80.5 points on Sure Motion; 2. (tie) Justin Pollmiller, Weatherford, Okla. and Will Martin, Durant, Okla. 76 each; no other qualified rides.


Steer wrestling

1. Shane Frey, Duncan, Okla. 3.4 seconds; 2. Bridger Anderson, Alva, Okla. 3.6; 3. (tie) Tyler Pearson, Atoka, Okla. and Sam Goings, Fallon, Nev. 3.7 each; 5. J.D.Struxness, Milan, Minn. 3.8; 6. Kyle Whitaker, Chambers, Neb. 3.9.


Tie-down roping

1. (tie) J.D. McCuistion, Collinsville, Texas and Justin Smith, Leesville, La 8.4 seconds each; 3. Cody Huber, Albia, Iowa 8.5; 4. Cody McCartney, Durant, Okla. 9.1.


Saddle bronc riding

1. Wade Sundell, Boxholm, Iowa 85 points on Chisum Trail; 2. Jade Blackwell, Rapid City, S.D. 83.5; 3. Brady Hill, Onida, S.D. 77.5; 4. Jesse Bail, Camp Crook, S.D. 71.


Team roping

1. Kellan Johnson, Casper, Wyo./Carson Johnson, Casper, Wyo. 5.0 seconds; 2. Eli Lord, Sturgis, S.D./Jesse Dale, Timberlake, S.D. 6.5; 3. Jeff Johnston, Thedford, Neb.,/Dustin Dan Harris O’Neill, Neb. 7.8; 4. JB Lord, Sturgis, S.D./Jake Beard, Menoken, N.D. 12.2.


Barrel racing

1. Chris Gibson, Windsor, Colo. 17.89 seconds; 2. Kenna Kaminski, Bellville, Texas 18.15; 3. Aimee Kay, Bluff Dale, Texas 18.17; 4. Hallie Fulton, Wessington Springs, S.D. 18.48.


Bull riding

1. Kyle Gardner, Kersey, Colo. 79 points on Evac Man; 2. Luke Gee, Stanford, Mont. 77; no other qualified rides.

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