For one sunny afternoon in Springville, Calif., it might just as well have been the spring of 1985 for Doyle Gellerman and Dennis Watkins.
The great team roping veterans – they have a combined 44 qualifications into the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo – got together to win the Springville Sierra Rodeo with a time of 5.5 seconds.
For Gellerman, 59, this was the sort of moment that brought him back to PRCA rodeos after three seasons away, the chance to get into the arena and mix it up with guys half his age in the spring rodeos.
“No matter how much money is up, I still try to win,” Gellerman said. “Rodeo is a lot of fun when you win. The competition and the winning is what I enjoy.
“I practice a lot even though I don’t go to many rodeos anymore. I still work on it every day, so that when I do want to go somewhere I’m ready.”
He is only back for a small taste of competition this time. Springville was the seventh stop since renewing his card in January and he’s not planning to enter another PRCA rodeo until California Rodeo Salinas in late July.
For the next few months he will back home in Nampa, Idaho, working as a pipeline inspector.
Gellerman would like to do more, but he is a pragmatist. He knows how much diesel fuel costs these days ($4.22 a gallon in Idaho) and what your chances are of making it to the NFR without competing full time (zero).
“I still love to compete and I have a really nice horse,” Gellerman said. “I would love to go back to the Finals one more time (he’s been 25 times in 1972-74, 1976-97). To be honest, if I had a sponsor I would take off in a minute.
“I’ve always liked roping with Denny (now 56). We’ve always been good together. I know every time I back in the box we have a chance. And he just loves rodeoing. All of it. If I called him up to say ‘let’s go,’ he’d be all in. The hard thing is the expense of traveling.”
The other winners at the Springville Rodeo Arena were bareback rider George Gillespie IV (84 points), steer wrestler Jake Rinehart (4.9 seconds), saddle bronc rider Rusty Allen (85 points), tie-down roper Blake Hirdes (8.2 seconds), bull rider Seth Glause (84 points) and barrel racer Rachael Boyle (17.17 seconds). Glause, who also finished fourth in the saddle bronc riding, was the all-around champion with $1,961.