Rodeo fans enjoy roping, riding

IRON RIVER – Cowboys, cowgirls, and plenty of rodeo fans crowded into Iron River this past weekend for the annual U.P. Championship Rodeo.

A full three days of activities concluded Sunday with the crowning of the new Miss U.P. Rodeo Queen and weekend-best performances in the team roping, saddle bronc riding, and tie-down roping competitions.

Emily Samppala, 19, of Marquette took top honors in the Miss U.P. Rodeo Queen pageant, along with the awards for personality, appearance, and public relations.

“It’s really exciting,” she said of her win. “My main duty now is to be an ambassador for the rodeo, going to other rodeos in Michigan and Wisconsin and representing the U.P.”

Although this is the first time Samppala has competed in the Miss U.P. Rodeo Queen pageant, she is no stranger to the rodeo queen experience. She said that she served as Miss Michigan High School Rodeo Queen in 2012.

Other Miss U.P. Rodeo Queen contestants included Georgie Dohl of Iron River, who won first runner-up honors and the horsemanship award; Clara Churchill of Gwinn, who won the rodeo knowledge award; and Allison Dagenais of Gladstone, who won the Miss Congeniality award.

Brooke Granquist of Powers, the outgoing Miss U.P. Rodeo Queen, was sad to see her reign come to an end, but she noted that she made the most of her time as queen.

“I had such a good year, going to six different rodeos, a couple of parades, and three fairs,” she said. “It was an absolute blast.”

During the third and final rodeo performance on Sunday afternoon, hundreds of fans watched the daring feats of cowboys and cowgirls from across the Midwest.

Weekend-best times and scores were recorded in team roping, with Mel Potter and Steven Gaona clocking 8.7 seconds; saddle bronc riding, with David Martin, Cody Rud, and Keith Brauer Jr. all turning in scores of 73 points; and tie-down roping, with Jody Green clocking 9.6 seconds.

The award for all-around cowboy went to Kyle Whitaker of Chambers, Neb., who won a total of $894 by competing in the steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, and tie-down roping events.

Winners of each individual event are listed below:

– Bareback riding, Cole Picton, 75 points.

– Steer wrestling, Jacob Burks, 4.5 seconds.

– Team roping, Mel Potter/Steven Gaona, 8.7 seconds

– Saddle bronc riding, (tie) David Martin, Cody Rud, and Keith Brauer Jr., 73 points.

– Tie-down roping, Jody Green, 9.6 seconds.

– Barrel racing, Kristine Knauf, 16.22 seconds.

– Bull riding, Travis Smith, 75 points.

Nikki Younk’s e-mail address is