Wagner the top rider in wild opening night for Clunie-Cooper Memorial

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Montana's Cole Wagner hangs on while he attempts to ride Tom Petty during the first night of the Clunie-Cooper Memorial PBR event at the Art Hauser Centre Thursday.

On an evening where a handful of riders were able to go the full eight seconds at the Art Hauser Centre, the second competitor to exit the chute proved to be the victor.

Cole Wagner’s 85 point ride in the long go round ended up being the best of the night Thursday as the Valier, Montana product took home Night 1 honours at the Clunie-Cooper Memorial PBR event.

“I got on this little red bull (Turn Back Time) and he was just right underneath himself and going to the left on every jump,” Wagner said. “That was my first time riding him and I was able to do my part.”

“It’s my first time ever competing in Saskatchewan and it was a really enjoyable night. I was actually going to take this weekend off when my buddy (Tristan O’Neal) got a hold of Jake Lockwood and asked if I wanted in. So far, it’s working out pretty good.”

Wagner almost completed a perfect night in the short go, as he was just milliseconds away from going the distance on Tom Petty before he was bucked off.

“Dang, I sure wish I was able to ride him,” Wagner joked. “I talked to a couple of buddies before I got on and they told him that he’s a pretty good bucker.”

Although Fort St. John, B.C. rider Jake Gardner got close to taking the lead with an 84 point ride in the short-go, Wagner was assured of the title on Thursday before he made his second attempt of the evening.

In fact, just five riders went the distance after the first round, with Yellowgrass’ Aaron Roy ending up in third spot after an 83.5 point ride early in the evening.

“There’s a lot of good riders here so I’m a little surprised that my early ride ended up being the one that won to be honest,” Wagner said. “I think we’re all going to get a good night of sleep in here and you’ll see some really good rides tomorrow.”

Friday’s competition will get underway at 7:30 p.m.