Kusek column: April 1 a special day with special meanings for Herman

2014-04-08T16:00:00Z 2014-04-09T15:56:06Z Kusek column: April 1 a special day with special meanings for Herman The Billings Gazette

The date April 1 has always had special meaning for Wayne Herman.

“It was my son’s birthday,’’ said the North Dakota cowboy of John Wayne Herman.

The younger Herman died in 1991 at the age of four from cancer. It was the same year his father won the coveted average title at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

So when Herman took a phone call from the ProRodeo Hall of Fame last Tuesday, April 1 became even that much more special.

“It was kind of cool I found out about the Hall of Fame on his birthday,” said Herman.

Herman is one of four world champions to highlight this year’s ProRodeo Hall of Fame class for 2014.

Herman will be joined by Pete Grubb, Glen O’Neill and Byron Walker, along with two-time world champion bullfighter Miles Hare and the horse Spring Fling. Spring Fling is one of just two horses to be honored as bareback and saddle bronc horse of the year.

The rodeo committees from Clovis, Calif., Greeley, Colo., Snake River Stampede in Nampa, Idaho and the Rowell Ranch Rodeo in Hayward, Calif., will be honored.

The induction ceremonies are Aug. 9 in Colorado Springs. Colo.

Herman, a native of Dickinson, N.D., won the world bareback title in 1992 and qualified for the National Finals Rodeo 11 times. In 1991, he finished second to Clint Corey by just $1,050 in the final world standings.

“I was a little stunned I guess, and quite honored to be put into the Hall beside people like Lewis Feild and Ty Murray and all the past champions who are the greatest in history,” Herman told the PRCA. He now lives in Halliday, N.D.

“I knew it was April 1st and I called the number back just to make sure it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke. When Kent (Sturman, ProRodeo Hall of Fame director) answered I realized it was the real deal.”

Grubb, who died in 1969 at the age of 56, was the first cowboy to win world titles at both ends of the arena. The Salmon, Idaho competitor won the bareback championship in 1938 and team roping (as a heeler) in 1940. He was also the first to win both the bareback and saddle bronc riding at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

O’Neill came to Canada from Australia and won the 2002 world saddle bronc title. He was also second in 2001 and 2003. Eight times O’Neill finished among the top five in the world standings. He earned more than $1.6 million during his career.

Walker, of Ennis, Texas, qualified for the NFR in steer wrestling 16 times over four decades, only second to Roy Duvall for most qualifications. He won the world title in 1981 and was second twice.

His wife Mary won the world barrel racing championship in 2012.

Hare was chosen to work the NFR six times as a bull fighter and won the first Wrangler World Champions Bullfighters title in 1981 and shared the honor with Rob Smets in 1988.

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This October’s PRCA NILE Rodeo will have a new look in the arena.

The NILE has hired Powder River Rodeo Company as the lead stock contractor.

Powder River Rodeo Company, based in Riverton, Wyo., replaces Brookman-Hyland Rodeo of Wolf Point.

The PRCA NILE Rodeo is Oct. 15-18 at Rimrock Auto Arena. It is one of the early high-paying rodeos for 2015. The popular Ranch Rodeo Finals is Oct. 14.

Powder River Rodeo Company’s pen is highlighted by Shepherd Hills Tested, the 2013 PRCA Bull of the Year.

Saddle bronc horse Craig at Midnight was third among the cowboys voting at last December’s National Finals Rodeo.

Owned by Hank and Lori Franzen, Powder River Rodeo Company had two bareback horses, two bulls and five saddle bronc horses chosen for the 2013 NFR. Hank Franzen, a native of Sidney, was considered one of the top cowboys of his generation when competing.

While known for its long list of top bucking horses, Powder River Rodeo Company bolsters its bulls selections by partnering with D&H Cattle, the six-time Professional Bull Riders stock contractor of the year. D&H Cattle had five bulls at last year’s NFR.

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