North Dakota natives win team roping round

Preston Billadeau and Levi O’Keeffe entered the third day of the Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo hoping to repeat the success they had Thursday and forget about Friday.

The North Dakota duo did just that, posting the fastest time of the event, roping their steer in 4.8 seconds Saturday at All Seasons Arena. The previous fastest time was set Friday by Sturgis, S.D., native J.B. Lord and Menoken native Jesse Fredrickson, who posted a time of 5.1 seconds.

Billadeau – a native of Parshall – and O’Keeffe, of Mohall, went sixth in the 12-team rotation a night after failing to rope their steer. five groups in front of them failed to post a time under 10 seconds.

The lack of a quality time leading up to their attempt didn’t change the duo’s thought process.

“When there’s 12 teams, there’s always going to be four times that are tough,” O’Keeffe said. “You always got to go at them as fast as you can.”

Broken barrier penalties on each of the first three teams added 10 seconds to their times. Teams most allow allow the steer its allotted head start or else they’re assessed a broken barrier infraction.

The next two teams were unable to rope their steers, leaving Billadeau and O’Keeffe with a time to beat of 14.8 seconds recorded by Grassy Butte’s Layne Carson and Volborg, Mont., native Josh Hodge. Billadeau roped the steer’s head first, followed shortly after by O’Keeffe lassoing the heels.

“I knew I got out good at the barrier and I had him caught pretty fast,” Billadeau said. “My heeler threw real fast so I knew if I got out good at the barrier, we were going to be good.”

Billadeau and O’Keeffe won the event Thursday with a time of 5.2 seconds. The tandem entered the Badlands Circuit Finals sixth in the standings.

The duo’s time withstood the final six pairs, narrowly edging out Paul David Tierney and Jared Bilby’s time of 5.0 seconds and Killdeer natives Turner Harris and Ross Carson’s 6.2-second mark. Harris and Carson finished third at 5.9 seconds Friday.

“It went good, just the way we had planned,” Carson said. “We needed to go get one captured and we got one caught.”

Team roping leaders Jeff Johnston and Levi Tyan grabbed the final money position with a time of 11.6 seconds. The team was penalized five seconds after Tyan only lassoed one of the steer’s legs. Johnston leads the team roping heading standings by about $3,500 over Lord and Tyan is atop the heeling standings by approximately $2,000 over Jesse Fredrickson.

The final day of the rodeo begins at 1:30 p.m. today.

Mike Kraft covers high school athletics, the Minot Minotauros and the Minot State men’s club hockey team. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.