This information is courtesy of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association:
They used to call right fielder Reggie Jackson Mr. October back in the 1970s and ’80s for his clutch hitting in major league baseball’s post-season. Professional rodeo in Canada might have to stick a Mr. August label on tie-down roper Erik Dublanko.
For the second year in a row, the Thorsby cowboy has come alive in his bid to qualify for the post-season. This past weekend, he won first at both the Jasper Heritage and Cranbrook (B.C.) rodeos and got a small piece out of Pincher Creek. It amounted to a $2,708 run that lifted him out of the also-rans and into playoff territory with $10,993 in seasonal income. With the CFR limited to five non-Canadians, he’s currently ranked 10th.
A year ago, Dublanko had an $8,000 August that carried him to his first Canadian Finals Rodeo. This month, he’s already earned $6,683 with the Whoop-Up Days rodeo at Lethbridge this coming weekend wrapping up the August schedule. Jasper was the only rodeo he won outright last year. He’s strung four firsts together this year, adding High Prairie, Abbotsford and Cranbrook to his conquests.
“I’m getting to think maybe it’s just my time of the year,” said Dublanko. “I’m still riding my 19-year-old mare Suzie that I bought from Murray Pole last year at Ponoka. “She’s just like an old violin; the music is sweeter every time I get on her. She’s pretty special.” So is Jasper. A year ago, he was the first roper out on opening night, stuck a time of 7.8 on the leader board and it lasted through the entire four-performance rodeo for $1,254.
“I thought to myself, ‘well, it worked last year, let’s try that again this year’ and I entered for the first performance again. This time I was fourth out.” Again, he went to the top of the leader board and stayed there. He was a tick slower with a 7.9, but, believe it or not, it paid the same money — $1,254. “I like going in the first performance,” Dublanko said. “You never know what’s going to happen so you just back in the corner and try to go as fast as you can. “I was so far behind at the beginning of August this year I’ve just had to nod my head and take my shot. It makes the roping a lot more fun. You don’t worry about being perfect, not making a mistake. You just go for it; same thing last year.”
Mr. August was also fourth out in the opening performance at Cranbrook and bundled his calf in eight flat for a $1,336 return. At Pincher Creek, a 9.2-second run paid bottom money of $118. Before launching his August offence, the 24-year-old Dublanko made his first-ever appearance at Wyoming’s legendary Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo. He was shut out, but, he was the only Canadian to advance to the last-day championship round, an achievement itself when you’re competing against more than 250 rivals.
“It was pretty awesome,” he said, “like a rodeo you’ve never been to before. I thought it was pretty special to make it back for the last day. There are guys who go their whole careers and never even get a time. “I went back in eighth place and missed my calf. I didn’t draw the one I could win it on. Every now and then we miss one. For me, it just happened to be the short round at Cheyenne.” The only other contestant to place at all three of last weekend’s rodeos was another tie-down roper, Montana’s Chad Johnson. He cashed second at Pincher Creek, third at Jasper and sixth at Cranbrook for $2,212, further solidifying his return to the CFR. There were no lead changes in the standings as a result of the three rodeos.
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The weekend rodeos and a couple of non-sanctioned events were particularly hard on the bull riding community. Five of them were dismissed from the active roster. Tyler Pankewitz sustained a slight tear of his spleen; Devon Mezei took a severe head shot, resulting in a severe concussion; Kyle German emerged from a wreck with multiple leg fractures above the ankle; Cole Collins fractured an ankle and Australian Kyle Louden tore a hamstring. Pankewitz and Mezei could return for the Wrangler Tour championships on Labor Day week at Armstrong, B.C. The season is likely over for the rest of them.
This week’s action sees rodeo athletes head to Lethbridge’s Whoop Up Days Rodeo (Aug 23-25) and Airdrie Bikes and Bulls (Aug 25).