In pursuit of victory

Local cowboys earn top honors as another rodeo season comes to an end

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— As the sun set on the 2001 summer rodeo season in Steamboat Springs, two local saddle bronc riders were still standing in the glow.

Bryan Costner and Mitch Walz both earned top titles at the awards presentation late Saturday evening that came after the final rodeo of the season at Romick Arena.

"It's pretty cool," the three-time Pat Mantle winner Walz said.

Walz, of Craig, said winning the end-of-season buck off was kind of special because he became the first cowboy in the history of the event to win the $2,000 check and the commemorative rifle that comes with the title three times.

"My dad already laid claim to this one," Walz said of the Winchester rifle after winning.

Walz scored a 76 on the back of his horse in Saturday night's six-rider, six-horse event. Winning came as a little bit of a surprise for the cowboy who was coming off an early season injury

"I missed the first few rodeos of the year, so I didn't really have a shot at the season title," Walz said. "Tonight was just a lot of fun."

Another local cowboy, Costner of Steamboat, also had a smile on his face despite getting bucked off in the Pat Mantle.

Costner took top honors for the season as he pocketed his first Steamboat Springs saddle bronc riding title.

Costner grew up in Toponas, competed in rodeo in Wyoming during college and has recently moved to Steamboat Springs.

"I'm pretty happy," Costner said. "I rode well all year and I'm already looking forward to next season."

Costner said winning the Pat Mantle had been his goal headed into the night. He said he drew a good horse, but things just didn't work out.

But he couldn't complain, his ride earlier in the night gave him a third-place finish, and a paycheck, in the final weekend of rodeo in Steamboat.

"I'm going to take a little break until November, but I'll be back next year," Costner said. "Hopefully, I will get another shot at the Pat Mantle."

The banquet was the official end of the rodeo season in Steamboat Springs and drew a large crown and most of the season title winners to the Ore House Restaurant after Saturday night's performance.

Other top winners included Travis Carlson of Evanston, Wyo., in the bareback; Justin Mildenberger of Keenesburg in the bull riding; and Cory Zion of Idalia in the calf roping.

Wade Corliss of Kersy held off a late run by Brighton's Todd Suhn to win his second steer wrestling title in two years, and the team of Troy and Tim Kreutzer of Model topped the team roping event.

Pake Younger of Grand Junction took home the buckle in the No. 7 roping event and Bonny Wheatley topped Julie Haskins in the girls barrel race by just $53.

The most popular winner of the night had to be 5-year-old Casey Barnes of Maybell who scored the win in the peewee barrel race by scoring twice as many points as his next closest competitor.

The all-round cowboy honors went Chris Downey of Cheyenne who pocketed the most money in two events at least three rodeos this season.

He just slipped past calf roper Cory Zion for the title of all-round cowboy.

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