NAMPA — After a successful first decade in rodeo, Wade Sundell has taken his career to the next level the last few years.
A $1 million ride and a first-ever World Championship have been highlights for the 34-year-old Iowa native. But his recent success won’t result in a fourth Snake River Stampede title, as Sundell’s time in Nampa ended when he got his arm jammed into a post coming out of the bucking chute, causing him to fall off the horse Flood Tide during Wednesday’s Saddle Bronc riding competition at the Ford Idaho Center.
“It gave me a pretty good stinger,” said Sundell, who added that it wasn’t an injury he expects will make him miss any time on the Pro Rodeo Cowboy Association circuit.
That was a bit of a good news for Sundell on an otherwise forgetful night. Currently ranked 14th in Saddle Bronc Riding, he is currently in position to return to the National Finals Rodeo and defend his World Title. The top 15 advance to Las Vegas, so more rodeos give him a better chance to stay in position to return.
“I just got to forget about it, and go on to the next one,” he said.
Sundell, who won three straight Snake River Stampede titles from 2010-12, finished on top of the saddle bronc world last season, in his eighth trip to the NFR. He placed in eight of the 10 rounds, claiming a win in the fifth round, and sharing the top spot in the seventh. He finished second in average, which pushed him to $280,636 won on the season, $18,202 ahead of Rusty Wright, who finished the season in second.
“It was the greatest feeling you’ll ever get,” said Sundell. “It’s something you work for your entire life. When you finally get it, it’s something words can’t explain.”
Sundell made seven straight National Finals Rodeo appearances from 2009-15, a streak which ended in 2016 when he opted to join Elite Rodeo Athletes, a startup circuit which was trying to rival the PRCA.
He won $1.1 million by winning the ERA championship event and finished the season second in the saddle bronc standings.
In 2018, he qualified for the National Finals Rodeo for the first time in three years, and made the most of his trip to Las Vegas, taking home his eight paychecks and a new belt buckle.
He’s followed it up this season with wins in San Antonio; Guymon, Oklahoma; Buffalo, Minnesota; Bellevue, Iowa; and Fort Pierre, South Dakota.
“I’ve done the same thing I’ve done every year,” Sundell said. “Just keep your nose down, fire away and let it all hang out.”
TOP SCORERS FROM WEDNESDAY: Taz Olson had the top time in steer wrestling, with a time of 3.6 seconds. … Austin Foss led bareback riders with an 81. He sits in second overall, behind Shane O’Connell, who had an 86 Tuesday. … Kal Fuller and Kasper Roy teamed up to rope the calf in 4.5 seconds, the top time on Wednesday. … Colt Gordon scored an 87 to take the saddle bronc riding lead. … Reno Gonzales had a time of 8.0 seconds for the fastest tie-down roping time of the night. … Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi had the fastest time in barrel racing, with a time of 16.23 seconds. … Clayton Sellars scored a 88.5 in bull riding and shares the lead after two days.
RODEO QUEEN BACK ON HORSE AFTER FALL: Preston rodeo queen McKenna Ward was riding her horse again before Wednesday’s events a day after taking a scary fall.
Ward hit a guardrail after being thrown from her horse Tuesday. She was taken to the hospital and released.
Bull rider Foster McCraw was seen by medical staff after limping off holding his arm following his 88.5-point ride Monday, but suffered no serious injury.