Dickinson Match of Champions
The Dickinson Match of Champions contributed greatly to the laurels of North Dakota’s future Cowboy Hall of Fame rodeo inductees and the love of rodeo for all North Dakotans. Ray Schnell and sons Raymond, Howard and Willard organized and promoted the popular event held each August near Dickinson.
The Match started as an invitational calf-roping event in the summer of 1946, with saddle bronc riding added in 1948. The first match featured North Dakota cowboys Jim, Tom and Alvin Tescher and Dean Armstrong competing against the Tooke Bucking Horses of Ekalaka, Montana.
In 1950, world champion Casey Tibbs of South Dakota won a special bareback match against Bill Linderman, but Linderman came up the victor in the bronc riding. Ralph Klein topped the calf-roping event, and Emanuel Chase edged out South Dakotan Homer Stands, who took first in the bareback riding.
Tibbs went on to win four consecutive matches (1953 through 1956), along with nine RCA world championships. Joe Chase, who later qualified for two National Finals Rodeos, won the 1957 Match.
The bucking horses used at the Match were some of the best in the business, coming from the Tooke, Greenough, Orr and Fettig bucking strings. Harley Roth of South Dakota was bringing his broncs by 1951. The Schnells later added top rodeo animals selected especially for the Match, including those of Jim Barnhart, John Steen and Oral Zumwalt.
For more than a decade, the world’s top bronc riders came to Dickinson for the Match each August. The top 15 bronc riders in the nation competed, including Tibbs, Linderman, Guy Weeks, Deb Copenhaver, Harley May, Bill Robinson, Bill Hancock, Jack Buschbaum and Alvin Nelson, along with North Dakota’s best who showed they were equal to the champions.
The Dickinson Match of Champions was moved to the Home On The Range campus in Sentinel Butte in 1957. The event serves as a major annual fundraiser for at-risk youth residing at Home On The Range.