June 24th, 2024

Making his mark on the WPCA

By Ryan McCracken on June 16, 2018.

NEWS PHOTO RYAN MCCRACKEN
Josh Hrynyk enters the final turn during the first heat in Fridays World Professional Chuckwagon Association races at the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede.


rmccracken@medicinehatnews.com
@MHNMcCracken

If the World Professional Chuckwagon Association is one big family, Josh Hrynyk is its newest member.

The 29-year-old WPCA rookie shook off a tough penalty during Thursday’s opening run at the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede with a much stronger Friday. While he’s still a ways off from aggregate leader John Walters, Hrynyk says he’s pleased with his progress.

“I was a lot happier with today,”said Hrynyk, who bounced back after missing his bottom barrel for a 10-second penalty Thursday to finish second in his heat with a time of 1:08.54. “Iwent pretty high on my top barrel but I think after last night I was just making sure I made them. I came out clean and went down, and they ran hard. Everyone ran hard and they’re all healthy coming back, that’s the main thing.”

Hrynyk got involved in chuckwagon racing on the ice. The Lloydminster product was playing on a hockey team with WPCA veteran Kurt Bensmiller when he found his way into the sport. After five years of professional outriding, Hyrnyk got his own outfit and threw his hat into the proverbial ring.

“Over the winters we would play hockey on the same team up in Dewberry. We’d travel to the games together and we’d always talk about how he was over in the WPCA and I was in the other association outriding with his brother,”said Hrynyk. “We’d always talk about how my season went and how much Ilove the sport. He put that bug in my ear, ‘Well if you like riding one horse why don’t you try controlling four?’

“After a few years and a few guys retiring we gave it a shot and put my name in.”

While he’s yet to race against his close friend in the WPCA circuit, Hrynyk says Bensmiller, as well as the rest of the WPCA’s drivers, have been very supportive and encouraging in his rookie campaign.

“It’s great. Everybody here is awesome. Drivers come over and throw their two cents, they ask how it’s going. If I mess up they say we’ve all been there,” said Hrynyk, who has an aggregate time of 2:24.78 after two runs. “Like (Thursday), it was a tough one. I missed my bottom barrel but Ihad nothing but support from multiple guys coming over and saying ‘We’ve all been there and tomorrow is a new day.'”

The rookie will have two more days to straighten things out in Medicine Hat before the WPCA packs up and moves on to High River. Hrynyk says he understand the WPCA will always be an uphill climb for a rookie, and as such he’ll be striving for consistency and clean runs.

“That’s been my goal from the start.I’ve told multiple guys, clean consistency and the speed will come when I get more comfortable. I’ve got a lot of older horses that I’ve bought off multiple guys that are helping me through the barrels and helping me get started and get my comfort zone up,” said Hrynyk. “It’s just making my barrels, getting really comfortable and then we’ll start hooking for a little bit more speed and working our way up from there.

“This sport does have its ups and downs. You’re really happy with your run one night then the next night, it’s hard on a guy. But it’s an amazing sport, I love it.”

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