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2012 AutoZone Liberty Bowl IPRA Rodeo


Article by: Tootie Trouy
Photos by: Susan Wilson
Staring out over a sea of Cowboy hats, Rodeo spirit was at an all-time high as the 25th Annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl IPRA Rodeo, sponsored by Ford, kicked off Friday, December 28, 2012 with the National Anthem. The 2012 Mid-South Rodeo Queen, Stephanie Kaeppel of Conway, AR, carried the Stars and Stripes before nearly 3,500 spectators. Among them were fans and members of the football teams in the upcoming 54th AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Iowa State and Tulsa. Although the Rodeo has come to be an annual event for the locals, it began as a form of indoor entertainment for the people visiting for the football game, according to AutoZone Liberty Bowl Football Classic Associate Executive Director, Harold Graeter.

Rodeo clown Dusty Myers kept the crowd entertained with bad political jokes as the first event, Bareback Bronc Riding got underway. Seven cowboys took their turns, but only two made qualified rides.  Two-time World Champion Josh Cragar out of Columbia, TN came out on top with a ride that scored 81 points.

Next up was Steer Wrestling. Only one cowboy, David Stone of Martin, TN brought his steer to the ground, winning the event.  Out of 20 cowboys, Mitch Rinehart of Guys, TN won the Tie Down Roping, throwing up his hands in 9 seconds flat. Team Roping, the largest event of the Rodeo with almost 50 entries, was a close race indeed. Ultimately, Quintin Parchman of Cumberland, TN and Cole Bigbee of Muscle Shoals, AL caught their calf the quickest, stopping the clock in 7.5 seconds.

Intermission was fun filled with an appearance by Miss AutoZone Liberty Bowl 2012 Jessi Young, and the popular Kid’s Boot Race. Children 10 and under flocked into the arena to participate.  A speedy 9-year-old, Garrett Bradham of Louisburg, MS took home the $100.00 gift card to Sports Authority. Afterwards, a skit by clown Dusty Myers sent the event back into Rodeo action.

Only two of the five Saddle Bronc entries rode, with Will Abshure of Ward, AR scoring 79 points to win. 

As the next event was presented, the crowd went wild!  The announcer exclaimed that everyone loves “pretty girls on fast horses!” This is the only Rodeo event in which women participate, and the Barrel Racers flew in and out of the arena, stopping the clock as quickly as their horses would carry them. Benton, KY cowgirl Taylor Smith took home the purse with a smoking 14.622 seconds. However, the real crowd pleasers were 8-year-old twins Lexi and Elli Henderson, the youngest entries in the rodeo. The girls rode their horses, Babe and Rafter, respectively, drawing cheers from everyone in attendance.

As always, the night was brought to an end with the bull riding. World Champion Freestyle Bull Fighter, Cody Emerson, joined clown Dusty Meyers in the arena, keeping the bulls occupied after each ride. A total of 25 cowboys attempted the 8-second ride, but only one made a qualified ride. Cowboy Matt May rode his bull, scoring him 78.5 points and the win.

The longest running rodeo in the Memphis area, the AutoZone Liberty Bowl Rodeo was a shining success in 2012. Contestants came from as far as Wyoming, and there wasn’t an empty seat to be found. The rodeo and the following day’s football game are events that Mid-South folks look forward to at the close of every year.  So, here’s to sending out 2012 and welcoming 2013 with our boots on!
IPRA Rodeo Results
Memphis TN AutoZone Liberty Bowl Football Classic World Championship
December 28, 2012
Bareback Bronc: Josh Cragar 81; Stevie Kee 74
Bull Riding: Matt May 78.5
Saddle Bronc: Will Abshure 79; Austin Joseph 77
Tie-Down Roping: Mitch Rinehart 9.0; Alex Caudle 10.8; Jordan Thasher 11.0; Clark Adcock 11.2
Steer Wrestling: David Stone 5.8
Cowgirl Barrel Racing: Taylor Smith 14.622; Molly Alexander 14.651; Sallye Williams 14.672; DJ Crenshaw 14.704
Team Roping: Quintin Parchman – Cole Bigbee 7.5; Hadley Deshazo – Cooper Bruce, Hadley Deshazo – Tyler Jackson split 7.9; Will Clark – Sam Smith 8.2; Dalton Turner – Cooper Bruce 9.1; Dalton Turner – Jeri Rhine 11.6
Photo Captions:
#1: Mid-South Rodeo Queen 2012 Stephanie Kaeppel carries the American flag during the National Anthem.
#2: Rodeo clown Dusty Meyers keeps the crowd entertained.
#3: Little ones line up in anticipation for the great Boot Race.
#4: Southaven, MS cowgirl Kindyl Scruggs turns the first barrel on her horse, Drift By Buck.
#5: Somerville, TN cowboy Gray Essary focuses on an 8 second ride.
#6: Rodeo clown Dusty Meyers and World Champion Freestyle Bill Fighter Cody Emerson play a game of chicken with one of the bulls.

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