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RODEO RETURNS: 75th anniversary of Abilene rodeo kicks off with top fifteen cowboys, veterans leading their events

Trevor Kastner, Roff, Okla., leads the bull riding after the first night of the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo in Abilene, Kansas.

Abilene, Kans. August 4, 2021 – After a one year-hiatus, rodeo is alive and well in Abilene, Kansas.

The 75th anniversary of the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo kicked off August 4, with slack in the morning and the first evening performance.

In the bull riding, a veteran bull rider took the lead.

Trevor Kastner, Roff, Okla., scored 82 points on Andrews Rodeo Co.’s bull Ol’ Son to top the scoreboard.

The bull “kicked and spun right there to the right,” Kastner said. “I could have finished (the ride) a lot better but I got a little lazy there at the whistle. But I stayed on him.”

Kastner, who has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo six times, is getting towards the end of his pro rodeo career.

The thirty-three year-old is “easing around” the rodeo world this year. “I’m kind of on my way out. I’ve been slowing down a lot the past few years. I’m getting old,” he quipped.

With a wife, Kate, a three-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son at home, Kastner is thinking about the next chapter of his life. “I’m not sure what I’m going to do,” he said, referring to retirement from rodeo. He’s been riding colts at home, so horses may be part of his next career.

Kastner has competed in Abilene nearly every year of his dozen-years of pro rodeo. Out of nine bull riders on Wednesday night, he was the only qualified ride.

He competed in Dodge City’s Xtreme Bull Riding on August 3 and this week will ride at rodeos in Sidney, Iowa on August 5, Phillipsburg, then back to Dodge City for the rodeo.

In slack, Cody Devers set the lead in the steer wrestling.

The Balko, Oklahoma man had a time of 3.7 seconds on a steer that his friend and fellow bulldogger Jule Hazen gave him advice about.

“Actually, Jule was pretty adamant about sure enough scoring pretty sharp on this one,” he said. “I thought (the steer) might be slower, because they’re fresher, so nobody know how they were going to leave” the chute.

Devers was on his own horse, Sassy, a fifteen-year-old American Quarter Horse who he has owned for six years. The mare started as a barrel racing horse, but Devers converted her five years ago. “She’s been good ever since,” he said. “She’s a little quirky in the box sometimes, but she’s good.”

Devers is looking to make his first trip to the Wrangler NFR; he’s ranked fifteenth in the world standings, with a little less than three months left in the rodeo season. On Sept. 30, the top fifteen in each event qualify for the Wrangler NFR, the PRCA’s world championship.

“I need to do some winning,” he said. His year has had some ups and downs, but a win in Abilene would help “take a little pressure off.”

He has a game plan for the last two and a half months for the year. “Just don’t waste a single steer. Place everywhere you can. Do good on the good ones, do the best you can on the other ones.”

Other fast times and high scores from slack and the Wednesday night performance of the Abilene rodeo include bareback rider Ross Griffin, Tularosa, N.M. (86 points); team ropers Marcus Theriot, Lumberton, Miss. and Jim Ross Cooper, Mutual, Okla. (5.8 seconds) and barrel racer Sidney Forrest, Lipan, Texas (15.61 seconds).

Two-time world champion Caleb Smidt, Bellville, Texas, leads the tie-down roping (8.3 seconds). He won the PRCA world titles in 2015 and 2018.

The Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo presented by Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers of Salina continues August 3 in Abilene at Eisenhower Park.

Rodeo tickets are $13 for adults and $7 for children ages 4-10. They can be purchased at the gate. For more information on the rodeo, visit WildBillHickokRodeo.com

Photo: Trevor Kastner, Roff, Okla., leads the bull riding after the first night of the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo in Abilene, Kansas.