By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON — Caleb Smidt and Joel Bach weren't worried about speed so much as working well together.
Not that speed was much of a problem.
Bursting out of the gate, Smidt wasted little time doing his part, snagging the head of the calf even before it had a chance to zag as the duo roped their calf in just 4.8 seconds to snatch the lead Friday evening at the 88th annual 4th of July PRCA Rodeo Belton at the Bell County Expo Center.
"I didn't really have a plan to (come out fast) but when I got out of the barrier, it felt right so I went ahead and took it and it all worked out," said Smidt, a Yorktown resident. "I didn't plan on going that fast, but it all worked out."
With the head secured, Smidt leaned left and gave Bach all the time he needed to secure the calf's feet.
"When I seen him catch (the head), I knew I had to just get my horse and turn the corner and just catch two feet. I pretty much had all day," said Bach, a Rhome resident.
The first sub-5 second time was half a second faster than the previous best (5.3 seconds) set by Cory Mothers and Tee Luttrell just three rides earlier.
The first competitor to actually take a lead Friday was 21-year-old Tarleton State student Chase Williams, whose time of 8.6 seconds in the tie-down roping blew away Thursday's best (10.4) by 52-year-old Martin Poindexter.
Avoiding the pitfall of breaking the barrier too quickly, Williams seemed to stun the calf with a quick roping as the animal practically laid still for him.
"He was real good and everything happened real fast, so I knew if I just eased around and tied him, I'd be good," Williams said.
For the second day in a row, the bulls ruled the night Friday as not a single competitor made the 8-second bell.
Houston's Craig Jackson came the closest. His bull "Tomahawk" bucked him to the ground just as the horn blasted through the Expo Center speakers.
"It's just like in the NFL or the NBA, you just have to give the other team some credit sometime," Jackson said.
"That bull was good. He turned back around like I like them (to) ... but what he does, he gets you tapped off one way and then he jumps forward and goes back the other way. ... I gave it all I had, I guess I didn't get my butt in the right spot a could of times."
The first several events were rather anticlimactic as Thursday's leaders held strong on Day 2, some by wide margins.
As the lone bareback competitor Friday, Donnie B'Oris of Huntsville scored a 64 for his ride. But that was nowhere near the 83 that Jeremy Mouton of Scott, La. registered on Thursday. In the saddle bronc, Craig Moore of Johnson City was the lone participant to even score, but his 60 didn't come close to challenging Justin Browning's 75 from Day 1.
There was nearly a first-place tie in the steer wrestling, but a 4.0 by 18-year-old Austin Courmier of Oakwood ballooned by 10 after it was determined he left the gate early. Joshua "Crazy" Clark of Texarkana led Day 2 with a time of 4.2 seconds, followed by a 4.3 by Cade Staton of Bastrop.
Day 1 leader Reagan Dillard maintained her advantage in barrel racing as only Jana Riley of Paige came close, finishing her run in 16.37 seconds, a tenth of a second slower than Dillard's 16.27 time Thursday.