With the conclusion of the San Angelo Rodeo on April 14, 2023, ProRodeo’s winter run has come to an end and calf roping circuit contestants are embracing warmer temperatures (in most places) and gearing up for outdoor rodeos.
In certain circuits, the rodeo season is just about to get underway. Circuits like Montana, the Great Lakes and Maple Leaf have only had a rodeo or two, so the races for those 2023 circuit championships have only just begun.
Meanwhile, other circuits like the Southeastern, Turquoise and Texas have been busy during the temperate winter months, leading to brewing battles for titles that should prove exciting to the finish.
Here’s where things stand as spring begins.
Texas Circuit—1st Cody Waldrop, $23,487, 2nd Sterling Smith, $9,902, 3rd Riley Webb, $9,119
The Leader —San Angelo cowboy Cody Waldrop used a great showing at his hometown rodeo last week to sprint to the circuit lead right now with $13,487 won in the Lone Star State. He won the short round en route a split of second in the average.
At 34 years old, Waldrop is a poster child for the circuit system: he’s a business owner running his 2-C Roofing/Metal Construction, Inc. during the week while squeezing in rodeo when he can. A fifteen-year veteran of the PRCA, Waldrop was 47th in Texas last season in just a handful of rodeos but is currently 41st in the PRCA | RAM World Standings.
The Race—As should be expected, Waldrop has a load of talent breathing down his neck including his closest current competitors, former Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) cowboy Sterling Smith and current world number one Riley Webb.
While the fan focus moves off Texas in the spring, there are still plenty of rodeos before the summer heat brings a slow down.
Southeastern Circuit—1st Michael Otero, $12,420, 2nd Blake Chauvin, $9,637, 3rd Macon Murphy, $9,153
The Leader—2019 Wrangler NFR qualifier Michael Otero has been resurgent in 2023, ranked 9th in the PRCA | RAM World Standings. A fair portion of his world earnings have come inside the huge Southeastern Circuit including Florida wins in Kissimmee in February and Arcadia in March.
The Race—Blake Chauvin is closest to Otero now but with Otero out on the road in search of another Wrangler NFR berth, circuit cowboys have a chance to close the gap in the coming months. Small and medium rodeos dominate the schedule until Fort Smith over Memorial Day.
Turquoise Circuit—1st Richard Newton, $4,736, 2nd Joseph Parsons, $4,469, 3rd Colter Sellers, $3,934
The Leader—Portales, New Mexico cowboy Richard Newtown used a dominating performance at the Turquoise Circuit Finals last fall to secure his first circuit championship with more than $17,000 won in Arizona and New Mexico.
He’s off to a fast start in his title defense thanks to a fourth place finish at the circuit’s most lucrative rodeo, La Fiesta de los Vaqueros in Tucson in February.
The Race—2010 Wrangler NFR qualifier Joseph Parsons already has his share of circuit championships and is currently the closest challenger to Newton. While Newton won the bulk of his money at one rodeo, Parsons has used consistency at the string of Arizona rodeos in March to build his total. He won Wickenburg and picked up reserve finishes in Yuma and Queen Creek.
Things get pretty slow in the Turquoise Circuit in the spring but pick back up in June and with the World’s Oldest Rodeo in Prescott over the Fourth of July.
Mountain States Circuit—1st Cash Enderli, $4,045, 2nd Hunter Reaume, $3,173, 3rd Riley Pruitt, $2,459
The Leader—Rookie of the Year contender Cash Enderli is the reigning champ of the Mountain States Circuit after claiming the title while still on his permit; he won $22,368 in Wyoming and Colorado in 2022 and will represent the home circuit at the NFR Open in Colorado Springs in July.
Though the circuit has only had one 2023 rodeo, it was a big one, the National Western Stock Show in Denver and Enderli managed to pick up some money there to take the early lead in his attempt to defend his title. Though he makes his home in Liberty, Texas, Enderli rodeos out of a friend’s place in Colorado during the summer.
The Race—With only one rodeo in the books, this race is still wide open once the season actually gets rolling in June.
Wilderness Circuit—1st Matt Shiozawa, $4,929, 2nd Stetson Vest, $4,289, 3rd Ryan Thibodeaux, $4,021
The Leader—11-time Wrangler NFR qualifier Matt Shiozawa also has his name all over the record books on the circuit level. He owns a record nine year end titles in the Wilderness Circuit between 2009 and 2022, and a record four championships at the National Circuit Finals Rodeo, now known as the NFR Open.
Shiozawa is well on his way to a tenth Wilderness title after winning the circuit opener in Las Vegas last November and taking second in a round at his former hometown rodeo, the Clark County Fair in Logandale, Nevada.
The Race—Like the Mountain States, the Wilderness Circuit is just getting underway with only two rodeos on the books. Shiozawa won $43,285 en route to the 2022 title so there’s a lot of money left to be paid out before the 2023 champ is crowned.
Because of the lucrative nature of the summer rodeos in Utah and Idaho, Idaho resident Shiozawa faces a lot of competition from guys who claim the Wilderness like Stephenville, Texas cowboy Thibodeaux, currently third.
Badlands Circuit—1st Austin Hurlburt, $3,694, 2nd Ty Moser, $2,669, 3rd Riley Wakefield, $1,983
The Leader—Norfolk, Nebraska cowboy Austin Hurlburt is on a roll after claiming two round wins and the average title at the 2022 Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo last October, wins that helped the multi-event hand also win the All Around. He finished third in the year end standings of the tie down roping and is looking to improve that with a fast start in 2023 that has included checks from Bismarck, Grand Island and Minot over the winter.
The Race—As in the Wilderness and other Northern circuits, things are just getting started for Badlands Circuit cowboys so Hurlburt will have plenty of competition as rodeos get rolling in late June for a furious three month sprint.
Columbia River Circuit—1st Bo Pickett, $3,283, 2nd Jason Minor, $2,388, 3rd Preston Pederson, $199
The Leader—Caldwell cowboy Bo Pickett took the early lead after winning fourth at the circuit opener in Redmond, Oregon in early April. Pickett was fourth a year ago in the Columbia River after winning a go round at the circuit finals in the same arena in Redmond.
The Race—Only three guys are currently in the standings with just one rodeo in the books so this race is just off the blocks. There will be plenty of changes between the start of summer rodeos in mid-May until the end of the Pendleton Round-Up in September, the end of the circuit season.
California Circuit—1st Brushton Minton, $3,152, 2nd Tyler Forsberg, $3,036, 3rd CJ DeForest, $2,540
The Leader—Witter Springs cowboy Brush Minton has come out strong in 2023, ranked 7th in the PRCA | RAM World Standings thanks to big checks from Fort Worth and San Angelo along with the average win at the California Circuit Finals over New Year’s Eve.
While he’s been on the rodeo road this winter, the 24 year old got off to a good start in the circuit by placing at fall rodeos in Industry and Brawley; he rolled into the start of the California run in Oakdale on a high and picked up a third place finish there to keep his lead.
The Race—There’s still a lot of rodeo left on the West Coast and much of the big money is given out this month at Red Bluff, Clovis, Lakeside, Springville and Auburn not to mention the big mid-summer payoff at California Rodeo Salinas, the state’s largest rodeo.
Stuntman Tyler Forsberg is closest to Minton right now with multi-event cowboy CJ DeForest right behind them but the next month could shake up these standings a lot.
Great Lakes Circuit—1st Luke Madsen, $2,615, 2nd Hadley DeShazo, $2,277, 3rd Chance Locken, $1,786
The Leader—Luke Madsen has the very-early season lead thanks to a win at the co-approved Rodeo Grand Island in February. The Marshalltown, Iowa cowboy is a true circuit competitor who was fourth in his last appearance at the Great Lakes Circuit Finals back in 2021.
The Race—So far, the Great Lakes has only had a couple of rodeos and some co-approved events to lend to standings so this race is in the same boat as the Wilderness and Columbia River Circuits.
Montana Circuit—1st James Ramirez, $1,878, 2nd Ryan Siemsen, $884, 3rd Treston Vermandel, $552
The Leader—James Ramirez got a jump on a tough circuit of tie down ropers with his third place finish at the NILE in Billings back in October. The 23-year old is a cowboy and was part of the University of Montana Western’s championship team at the Days of ’47/Road to the Horse Collegiate Colt Starting Challenge in 2021; he also represented them on their basketball and rodeo teams.
Ramirez just missed the cut for his first Montana Circuit Finals in 2022 so he’s looking to get to Great Falls this season.
The Race—Once summer arrives, the Montana Circuit goes into overdrive with the vast majority of the rodeos happening between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Amongst the competition will be 2022 champ—and 2019 PRCA World Champ—Haven Meged.
Prairie Circuit—1st Rowdy Nimrod, $1,735, 2nd Will Howell, $1,697, 3rd Jarvis Demery, $1,453
The Leader—Southeastern Oklahoma State University athlete Rowdy Nimrod has the early lead thanks to a win in McAlester, Oklahoma to open up the season. The 20 year old from Hartshorne, Oklahoma was 39th in the circuit last year, his first as a pro.
The Race—Stillwater’s Will Howell, who was 7th last year, is currently second but this one’s in the earliest stages. Guymon will get the ball rolling in May while big summer rodeos like Dodge City and Phillipsburg will have a big impact on who gets the title here.
Maple Leaf Circuit—1st Shay Stewart, $1,270, 2nd Stran Dunham, $927
The Leader—Shay Stewart collected some points in Fargo, North Dakota, a co-approved event with the Maple Leaf circuit which consists primarily of Canadian rodeos. The Saskatchewan cowboy holds the lead with just a couple of events done thus far.
The Race—The first Canadian rodeo on the circuit schedule is Dawson Creek this coming weekend with about 20 rodeos total on both sides of the border counting towards this circuit championship and a chance to compete at the NFR Open. Logan Bird was the champ in 2022 with $29,920 won.
First Frontier Circuit—1st Zane Kilgus, $902, 2nd Colby Clement, $714, 3rd Charlie Goerlach, $526
The Leader—All around talent, and Northeastern Oklahoma rodeo team member, Zane Kilgus calls Pennsylvania home so the First Frontier is his playground. Kilgus is the reigning tie down, heading and all around champ, winning more than $40,000 in the circuit a year ago. Oh, he also steer wrestles and was fourth in those standings last year.
Thanks to a win at Glens Falls in November, he’s in the lead of the tie down once again.
The Race—It’s a long time between Glens Falls and mid-May, when the First Frontier Circuit gets underway again. Once they get started, cowboys have two weekly rodeos in Woodstown, New Jersey and Lake Luzerne, New York to choose from along with other offerings from Pennsylvania to Maine.