Wisconsin steer wrestler Jacob Burks takes the lead at American Royal Rodeo

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – By Ted Harbin – Every cowboy who has ever nodded his head in competition has thought of winning a ProRodeo world championship.

Now 35 years old, Jacob Burks has long since let his gold buckle dreams fade, and he loses no sleep. Rodeo is still very much a part of the steer wrestler’s life, and it’s quite likely he’ll be involved for many years to come. But there are other priorities than traveling the rodeo trail full time, which is what it takes to win world titles.

“When I got out of college, I tried to be the rodeo cowboy for a living, but my ability showed up,” Burks said jokingly. “I didn’t get to make a living at it by any means, but it’s good for me to be a circuit cowboy and get to go to 30 good rodeos a year.”

He took advantage of one of the few opportunities he competes on Friday night to take the steer wrestling lead at the American Royal Rodeo, grappling his steer to the ground in 4.0 seconds at Hale Arena. He’ll have to wait out the final two performances – set for 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday – to see if his time holds on to the top spot.

“This rodeo is an awesome one for our circuit, because the winner is going to win about $2,000 or so,” said Burks of Lancaster, Wis. “That’s pretty big for me right now because of our circuit.”

Money won at Kansas City’s rodeo not only counts toward the world standings but also for those from the Great Lakes Circuit, which is made up of rodeos and contestants in Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.

“Back in the middle of the summer, I was rolling along pretty good, but then I fiddled around and didn’t win much in July,” Burks said. “I’ve come back a little bit, and I think I’m about $4,000 out of first place. If I get a good check here, it at least gives me a shot. If things happen just right at the circuit finals, at least I have my name in the hat to try to win the circuit.”

That’s his goal every year. The Great Lakes Circuit Finals Rodeo will take place in Louisville, Ky., in November, and he’d like to walk away with the coveted title. When a man has a full-time job and still makes his way to rodeos across the region, the circuit crown is his pot of gold at the end of his rainbow.

Bareback riding: 1. Taylor Price, 83 points on Three Hills Rodeo’s Mississippi Queen; 2. (tie) A.J. Yocham and Joel Schlagel, 78; 4. Kyle Brennecke, 77; 5. Naudy Exposito, 65; no other qualified rides

Steer wrestling leaders: 1. Jacob Burks, 4.0 seconds; 2. (tie)Jeff Miller, Bray Armes and Clayton Moore, 4.2; 5. (tie) Kyle Whitaker and Matt Reeves, 4.3 each; 7. Olin Hannum, 4.4; 8. (tie) K.C. Jones and Clayton Hass, 4.5.

Team roping leaders: 1. Trevor Brazile/Patrick Smith, 4.7 seconds; 2. Drew Horner/Buddy Hawkins II, 4.8; 3. Turtle Powell/Dugan Kelly, 5.6; 4. Tyler Johnson/Dawson McMaster, 7.1; 5. Derrick Begay/Cesar de la Cruz, 9.8; 6. Aaron Tsinigine/Clay O’Brien Cooper, 14.0; 7. Travis Tryan/Jake Long, 17.8; no other qualified times.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Hardy Braden, 80 points on Three Hills Rodeo’s Wampum; 2. Jade Blackwell, 78; 3. Louie Brunson, 77; 4. Travis Nelson, 72; 5. J.R. Bonner, 67; no other qualified rides.

Tie-down roping leaders: 1. Justin Maass, 8.4 seconds; 2. (tie) Shane Slack and Paul David Tierney, 8.5; 4. Randall Carlisle, 8.6; 5. Cody Ohl, 8.7; 6. Shane Hanchey, 9.7; 7. Caleb Smidt, 9.8; 8. Cory Solomon, 10.4.

Barrel racing leaders: 1. Natalie Foutch, 14.57 seconds; 2. Sabrina Ketcham, 14.68; 3. Jeanne Anderson 14.71; 4. (tie) Shada Brazile and Fallon Taylor, 14.78; 6. Karissa Gipple, 14.80; 7. Mary Walker, 14.83; 8. Kaley Bass, 14.85; 9. (tie) June Holeman and Haley Sheldon, 14.86.

Bull riding: 1. Garrett Smith, 85 points on Smith, Harper and Morgan’s Manic Monday; 2. Sage Kimzey, 84; 3. Scottie Knapp, 82; 4. Dusty Green, 80; 5. (tie) Trevor Reiste, Dusty Elkinton and Tate Stratton, 79; 8. Danny Schlobohm, 76.

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