Paige Barnes rounds the final barrel Saturday during Pee Wee barrel racing at the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo. Paige won the night's race, which lifted her into a tie with defending champion Amber Salazar. The two young girls rode all summer in the Steamboat rodeo and shared the championship belt buckle.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Paige Barnes rounds the final barrel Saturday during Pee Wee barrel racing at the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo. Paige won the night's race, which lifted her into a tie with defending champion Amber Salazar. The two young girls rode all summer in the Steamboat rodeo and shared the championship belt buckle.

Rodeo series rides to conclusion Saturday

Travis Darling wins Pat Mantle saddle bronc contest

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Saturday's results

At Brent Romick Rodeo Arena

Steamboat Springs

Bareback riding - 1st go winner

1. David Streweler, 83, $164.67

2. Cole McCall, 80, $123.50

3. JW Winklepleck, 79, $82.33

4. Cheyenne Seymour, 73, $41.17

Bareback riding - 2nd go winner

1. Cole McCall, 79, $164.67

2. JW Winklepleck, 75, $123.50

3. David Streweler, 73, $82.33

4. Cheyenne Seymour, 67, $41.17

Bareback riding - Winners on 2 head

1. Cole McCall, 159, $164.67

2. David Streweler, 156, $123.50

3. JW Winklepleck, 153, $82.33

4. Cheyenne Seymour, 140, $41.17

Saddle Bronc riding

1. Jake Griffin, 78

2. Darrell Triplett, 75

3. Tucker Sheets, 74

4. Ryan Dale Bestol, 74

5. Chad Mosher, 74

Bull Riding - 1st go winner

No Qualified scores

Bull Riding - 2nd go winner

1. Jake Booco, 75, $174.17

Bull Riding - Total on 2 head winner

1. Jake Booco, 75/1, $174.17

Team Roping

1. Garrett Tonozzi, Bret Tonozzi, 5.8, $617.50

2. Travis Bounds, Ryan Zurcher, 6.3, $463.13

3. Paul Beckett, Chad Wahlert, 7.3, $308.75

4. Terry Forrest, Boyd Supan, 8.7, $154.38

Tie down roping

1. Chase Johnston, 10.0, $741.00

2. Chris Evans, 10.5, $555.75

3. Wes Borders, 11.0, $370.50

4. Mario Baleztena, 11.3, $185.25

Barrel racing

1. Megan Zion, 17.64, $548.24

2. Amanda Welsh, 17.91, $453.72

3. Priscilla Medina, 17.95, $359.19

4. Julie Haskins, 18.03, $264.67

5. Shali Lord, 18.14, $170.14

6. Mandy Teichert, 18.31, $94.52

Steer wrestling

1. Olin Hannum, 4.9, $646.00

2. Theo Federer, 5.5, $484.50

3. Kelly Masters, 5.8, $323.00

4. Maclain Miles, 6.2, $161.50

Pee Wee barrel racing

1. Paige Barnes, 8 on Ranger, 19.12

2. Amber Salazar, 6 on Brownie, 19.34

3. Bryton Scheller, 8 on Roanie, 20.25

4. Genevieve Hilmuth, 8 on Bobbie, 23.77

No. 11 Team roping

1. Clint Scheller, Zach Winn, 5.6, $406.00

2. Nick Camilletti, Boyd Supan, 5.8, $372.00

3. Shane Piero, Brian Brewster, 6.8, $248.00

4. Brent Romick, Steve Neeley, 7.2, $124.00

All around: Mario Baleztena, Loma

Bareback: Craig Wisehart, Kersey

Saddle bronc: Travis Darling, Mills, Wyo.

Bull riding: Clayton Savage, Casper, Wyo.

Tie down roping: Troy Hubbard, Wheatland, Wyo.

Steer wrestling: Theo Federer, Cheyenne, Wyo.

Team roping: Shawn Hagler, Platteville & Riley Pedro, Nunn

Barrel racing: Julie Haskins, Maybell

No. 11 team roping: Ken Norell, Delta

Pee Wee barrel racing: Paige Barnes, Hayden & Amber Salazar, Craig

Pat Mantle saddle bronc riding champion: Travis Darling, Mills, Wyo.

— In a world where the soundtrack for death-defying rides atop bulls and broncs is overwhelming applause, Pee Wee barrel racing is more often "aww" than "ahh!"

That's what made the crowd reaction Saturday night on the final night of the 10-week Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series so unique. The packed grandstands gushed expectedly when a little boy in a big cowboy hat and riding a bigger horse waved to the crowd and a little girl in a bike helmet made the rounds on a small pony. But when 8-year-old Paige Barnes raced from the gate with blond hair whipping behind her and fire coming from her eyes, the crowd roared.

The season-long points championship belt buckles were handed out Saturday night, and none was as contested as that for Pee Wee barrel racing.

With her fastest time of the season, Paige won the night's race, edging out 6-year-old reigning champ Amber Salazar. The victory pulled the precocious rivals into a tie, and moments later they scampered out together, two little cowgirls who a shared wide smiles and one gleaming buckle.

With an uproarious response from a crowd of rodeo fans getting their summer's final fix, Steamboat's cowboy summer came to an end.

"I was pretty nervous," Paige said. "I've been riding a lot. It felt really good."

Saturday marked the 20th performance of this year's Steamboat rodeo, and many of the championship races came down to one final ride.

Mario Baleztena, from Loma, wrapped up the all-around cowboy honors for the third time thanks to a season-best performance in tie-down roping.

Baleztena, borrowing a horse to compete in the event in order to qualify for the all-around title, snared his calf and had it wrapped in 11.3 seconds. The run slipped him into fourth place, earned him $185.25, and gave him just enough points to claim the season title.

"I had to place in the calf roping to win the all-around," Beleztena said. "It was the last round, last rodeo of the season, so there was quite a bit of pressure. I missed the start a little bit and I had to run him down and just took one wrap on him, taking a chance. I had to do that to place and try to win."

It was a last ride that made the weekend for Travis Darling, too. A saddle bronc rider who grew up in Steamboat, Darling saved his best for last - the very last. He was bucked from Rocky Rapids on Friday night but had already amassed enough points to win the season saddle bronc title.

The top six cowboys then were given a chance to ride again for an extra $2,000 and a commemorative rifle.

Darling was the last cowboy out of the gate in the last event of the season. He stayed atop his bronc and won the event.

"I got a little bit nervous, but we go to hundreds of rodeos each year, and I tried to just treat it like another day at the office," Darling said. "The horse was pretty hard to ride. I got a little behind him in the middle, then caught back up in the end."

Craig Wisehart won the season's bareback competition; Clayton Savage the bull-riding competition; Troy Hubbard the tie-down roping; Theo Federer steer wrestling; Shawn Hagler and Riley Pedro the team roping; Julie Haskins the girl's barrel racing, and Ken Norell the No. 11 team roping.

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