Archive for December, 2011

postheadericon Happy birthday, Casey

Casey Colletti celebrates his 26th birthday today, and he has a lot for which to be thankful.

Casey Colletti

Casey Colletti

So do I, for that matter. Over the past couple of months, I got to know a lot more about the Colorado cowboy. I’ve been very blessed to be able to help tell his terrific story. The son of a bareback rider, he was raised on a ranch west of Pueblo, Colo.

A few years ago, he accepted a rodeo scholarship to Garden City (Kan.) Community College, where he competed for coach Jim Boy Hash – Hash, by the way, is my wife’s longtime friend from their college days at Panhandle State University.

During his first qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Colletti earned $82,644. That’s a pretty good living for 10 nights worth of work.  He placed seven times and proved why he deserved to be in Las Vegas.

Each night he collected a check, Colletti got his arm wrapped in ice and walked to the media room for our nightly visits. By the time he won the ninth go-round, I wasn’t sure what questions I could ask him. But we made due.

In the process, I hope the people who read the stories enjoyed them. Furthermore, I hope they enjoyed the opportunity to know a little more about a great young cowboy.

I sure did.

postheadericon A fantatic finish

Bobby Mote

Bobby Mote

By now, everybody knows Kaycee Feild won $179,327 during his fantastic 10-day run at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, which culminated in his first Montana Silversmiths gold buckle.

But did you know that four-time world champion Bobby Mote won $105,673? Feild’s run is one of the most impressive things I’ve seen in bareback riding in a long time, if not ever.

But what’s impressive about Mote’s feat is that he was shut out of the money in the first four go-rounds. The Oregon cowboy then placed in the final six rounds and finished second in the average.

Of course, his 10-head total was still 27 points behind Feild’s, but at this point, who really cares?

postheadericon Team MGM Grand contestants earn big NFR prizes

LAS VEGAS – The 2011 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo was a display of awesome athletic talent, showcased over 10 nights in the Nevada desert.

For contestants who are part of Team MGM Grand, it was spectacular, featuring three world championships, two NFR average titles and $1.74 million paid out to the 31 cowboys and cowgirls. That is a substantial take for contestants who stayed at the Home of Champions, the fitting tag line for the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino properties.

Click Here to get your reservationAtop the list is 16-time world champion Trevor Brazile, who owns nine of the last 10 all-around world titles, a record the Decatur, Texas, cowboy continues to strengthen. Brazile, who also won the steer roping world title earlier this season, was the only cowboy in the field to compete in multiple events in Las Vegas. He finished the NFR with $106,250 in earnings, most of which came in team roping with his partner, Patrick Smith of Midland, Texas. Brazile had nearly $32,000 in tie-down roping.

While Brazile’s status is as high as anyone who has ever played the sport, no other Team MGM Grand contestant had a better 10 days of competition than barrel racer Lindsay Sears, who earned $133,558, won the NFR average with a cumulative time of 139.50 seconds on 10 runs and won her second Montana Silversmiths gold buckle.

“You are as good as your horse is in barrel racing,” said Sears, who teamed with her well known partner, an 11-year-old sorrel mare named Martha. “We’re like peas and carrots. She is the one for me. If I wasn’t going to get to get on her again, I’m not sure if I wanted to continue doing this for a living.

“I got to the finals on my backup horse, and Martha got to come here and be the star. She got to prove herself here in this arena again. It’s indescribable.”

The tie-down roping race was as tight as any in the game, with Team MGM Grand cowboys battling it out to the wire on the final night of the competition, Matt Shiozawa and Tuf Cooper. Shiozawa, of Chubbuck, Idaho, won the average championship, roping and tying down 10 calves in a cumulative time of 88.3 seconds; in all, he won $106,154 in Las Vegas.

But he finished runner-up to the world title to Cooper, the 21-year-old son of legendary roper Roy Cooper, who owns eight world championships. Tuf Cooper, of Decatur, Texas, won just $46,731 at the NFR, but his pre-finals lead carried him to his first world championship, the family’s ninth gold buckle. Tuf is one of four NFR qualifiers who are part of Team MGM Grand, joining brothers Clif and Clint and cousin Jim.

“We didn’t have the Finals that we were expecting, and if you look back on paper, that’s the ones we were expecting,” said Tuf Cooper, whose brother-in-law is Brazile. “It’s definitely worked out the way we wanted it to, and it all works out in the end.

“Everything’s going to change from this point on. We’re trying to take the steering wheel and do the driving instead of being along for the ride. I’ve got a big responsibility to a lot of people, and I’m going to try to do the very best job that I can.”

In all, Team MGM Grand contestants left Las Vegas with $1,739,132, nearly one third of the total prize purse available. That’s one reason why the MGM Grand is the Home of Champions.

postheadericon A Wolf of a rodeo newshound

Over the course of my career, I’ve been in contact with some great writers, men and women who love to tell stories and have a God-given ability to do so.

Many of the ones who reach me most are the folks who tell rodeo tales, those who care about this industry and who have dedicated themselves and their talents to promoting the sport in their own way. They are talented and caring.

Jeff Wolf

Jeff Wolf

Whether it’s Ed Knocke, a Dallas Morning News retiree who writes for Western Horseman; or Joe Kusek of the Billings (Mont.) Gazette; or Dwayne Erickson of the Calgary (Alberta) Herald; or Bryan Painter in Oklahoma City, rodeo has been blessed with wonderful storytellers.

No mention of the best is complete without talk of Jeff Wolf, who for more than a decade covered the sport for the Las Vegas Review Journal. Wolf, who also covered motorsports for the publication, was part of the economic downturn that has hit the newspaper industry hard; he was laid off by the Review Journal several months ago but continued to write about rodeo and racing as a freelancer.

Wolf, though, is leaving Las Vegas for Indianapolis, where he will work in motorsports full time. His vacancy in the City of Lights will be felt by many, because he educated those unfamiliar with the sport for so many years – all after learning about rodeo from the ground level up himself.

Jeff Wolf is a good cat. Rodeo will miss him, but I think we all understand what it’s like actually fulfilling one’s dream.

postheadericon She’s a Beauty and a speedster

Jane Melby

Jane Melby

What are your thoughts on Jane Melby’s run at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo?

In her first qualification to the biggest event in the sport, Melby proved she should be returning to Las Vegas for years to come. Beauty is, well, beautiful and fast.

And Melby gave the great mare a little time off, using her backup horse two go-rounds. When Beauty got back to work, she did pretty well. In all, they won three rounds and placed in another, earning just shy of $60,000.

I’d take it.

postheadericon Welcome to the Lindsay Sears Show

Lindsay Sears

Lindsay Sears

Lindsay Sears dominated barrel racing at the 2011 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, placing in eight of 10 go-rounds, sharing the first-round win with Brittany Pozzi and winning the seventh outright.

She won the average and more than $133,000 en route to her second Montana Silversmiths gold buckle in four years. And she did it on her great sorrel mare, Martha. It’s a tremendous story, and when it appears in Women’s Pro Rodeo News, I plan to share it with you here.

The only downside is that I wasn’t able to have a down-to-it review conversation with the newly crowned champ to get a deeper understanding of her thoughts now that she’s had time to reflect on this great accomplishment. I’m blessed by the knowledge that she trusts me enough to tell her story without that conversation.

But there were many great stories from Las Vegas, and Lindsay’s is just one. In the coming days, I hope you’ll enjoy reading about Jane Melby make the most of her first qualification to the NFR, Lisa Lockhart still collecting a lot of cash despite knocking down a couple of barrels or Sherry Cervi finishing fourth in the average with a penalty.

postheadericon Jhett Johnson Round 10 interview

Johnson, Round 10, 2011 NFR



postheadericon Bright’s Round 6 interview

Bright, Round 6, 2011 NFR

postheadericon Durfey’s Round 7 interview

Durfey, Round 7, 2011 NFR

postheadericon Sherwood’s Round 6 interview

Matt Sherwood, Round 6, 2011 NFR

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