Bronc buster Will Berg looks over his saddle as the sun sets on the Moffat County Fairgrounds. Berg was wearing the shirt honoring Wes Hertzog that all of the competitors wore.

Photo by David Pressgrove

Bronc buster Will Berg looks over his saddle as the sun sets on the Moffat County Fairgrounds. Berg was wearing the shirt honoring Wes Hertzog that all of the competitors wore.

Remembering Wes

Second annual rodeo grows from last year

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Emma Villard, 2, wasn't a big fan of ending up in the dirt during the "boot race" for kids during a break at the Wes Hertzog Memorial Bronc Match. Emma's mom found her shortly after, dusted her off and she was just fine.

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Blaze Hamaker holds on to Heaven Bound during the short go of Saturday's Wes Hertzog Memorial Bronc Match. Hamaker and Heaven Bound earned an 86 for the highest score of the evening.

— One way or another, every cowboy at Saturday's Wes Hertzog Memorial Bronc Match knew the rodeo's namesake.

Some of the younger cowboys, such as 19-year-old Blaze Hamaker, who won the short go with the night's best score of 86, had fathers who knew Wes.

Bucky Garlington, one of the more veteran riders of the 26 contestants, competed right along with Hertzog.

"If there were any rodeo I was going to ride this year, it was going to be this one," the New Mexico cowboy said.

All of the cowboys were at the Moffat County Fairgrounds to honor their friend who died from injuries he sustained while riding a bronc a couple of years ago.

"Wes would be proud of tonight," event organizer Terry House said. "I had one cowboy tell me he put off four other rodeos to come to this one."

The stands were about half full for the event, which House said was better than last year.

"Hopefully, it just keeps growing," she said. "It was nice to see a line at the ticket stand."

The crowd had a chance to see two exciting rides in the short go.

Hamaker, from Laramie, Wyo., had the lowest score to make it into the short go with an 81. He rode first of the five cowboys in the short go and drew Heaven Bound from the Payette Rodeo Company. He hung on Heaven Bound for eight seconds and the judges liked it enough to give the night's best of 86 at that point.

"I didn't know if my score would hold up because I didn't know the other horses," Hamaker said. "It feels good, though. My last win was in Colorado Springs in early July."

Garlington tied for the best ride in the long go with an 84 so he rode last in the short go. His ride was electric, but he finished one point too low with an 85.

"I thought I got gifted pretty good," Hamaker said after he watched Garlington's ride. Garlington "had a nice one."

Brandon Nunn finished third in the short go.

For the win, Hamaker took home a $1,700 check. More than $7,000 went home to the cowboys.

It sounds like the rodeo is here to stay.

"We already have a championship saddle donated for next year," House said. "The sponsors in the community were great and we had a lot of guys from a lot of places."

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