Archive for December, 2012

postheadericon It’s been an amazing year

I must apologize. I haven’t been around much the last week, but there’s a good reason why.

It’s been an OUTSTANDING year for me, for Rodeo Media Relations and for TwisTED Rodeo. The 2012 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo was an awesome way for me to close out this tremendous year, and I’ve been beyond blessed to be associated with so many great people involved in our wonderful sport.

From the Harbin family to you, Merry Christmas. May you rope all your dreams in the new year.

From the Harbin family to you, Merry Christmas. May you rope all your dreams in the new year.

Primarily, none of this is possible without the undying and loving support of my wife, Lynette, and our girls, Laney and Channing. I’ve been away from home more this year than any other, and that is, by far, the toughest piece of the puzzle that is my life.

One of the true blessings – and one of the true testament of God’s timing – is that my business took off at the same time our youngest moved into preschool; I have served the role of Daddy Daycare since her birth four years ago, a job I have cherished.

But that leads me to another blessing, my mother- and father-in-law, Rose and Raymond, who jump in and help us out each and every time we need it. There is no way we could do any of this without them and all they do for us and for our girls, who adore spending nights with Grandma and Grandpa.

For three years, I’ve served as media director for Dallas-based Carr Pro Rodeo; more importantly, I have a true friend in Pete Carr. Not only has he offered me an opportunity to work with one of the great stock firms in the sport, but he has helped expand the role and reach of Rodeo Media Relations. You will find many great people in our sport, but rare is it that you will find a stock contractor who has been that progressive.

I’ve worked with Robert Simpson and the others at the Lazy E Arena for more than a decade, and it’s an honor every time I walk into that hallowed building or prepare items for any Lazy E-produced event. The first rodeo I worked after the development of Rodeo Media Relations was the Guymon (Okla.) Pioneer Days Rodeo, and it will always hold a special place in my heart – it’s also the place I met my wife, who volunteered for the committee for several years.

I can’t say 2012 was all gravy, though. My father died in October at the age of 80. He was ready to go, and I take great comfort in that and the care that he received daily from my sister, Shelly, and her family. Dad sparked my interest in rodeo four decades ago, when we made the annual trip to his childhood home and took in the Woodward (Okla.) Elks Rodeo. Little did I know then that this sport would take such a strong hold of my passions, but I’m thankful it did.

My dad died knowing I was doing what I love and that my passions burn for many wonderful things, not the least of which is telling stories about the people who make this sport possible and promoting rodeo to the world. It’s not close to the most important part of my being. No, God always comes first, followed closely by Lynette, Laney and Channing.

But just beyond those most special to me always will be the relationships, those of my extended family and my friends, some of whom are much closer than blood relatives will ever know. They are who have made me what I am, and I hope and pray I can only do them justice.

My vacation began a few days after the NFR’s 10th go-round. My final feature is on the wonderful story of world champion Mary Walker, who overcame major challenges – of losing her only son to a car wreck and rehabilitating her body after an injury that left her in a wheelchair for months – to win the coveted gold buckle. I cried with her, and I laughed with her, and I wrote from my heart.

I think that’s a pretty good way to wrap an awesome 2012. I hope you have an amazing Christmas and new year.

postheadericon Let’s push for more

The money is getting better in professional rodeo.

Trevor Brazile

Trevor Brazile

This season, 11 contestants finished the campaign with more than $200,000 in earnings, and not all were world champions. Yes, there were plenty – all-around Trevor Brazile, bareback rider Kaycee Feild, saddle bronc rider Jesse Wright, tie-down roper Tuf Cooper, barrel racer Mary Walker and bull rider Cody Teel – but that’s just about half of the top money-earners.

Also in the mix were bareback riders Bobby Mote (who finished third in that event and second in the all-around) and Will Lowe; saddle bronc riders Cody DeMoss and Cody Wright; barrel racer Carlee Pierce; and bull rider J.W. Harris.

A decade ago, there were seven men who finished with $200,000 or more: saddle bronc riders Glen O’Neill and Dan Mortensen; tie-down ropers Fred Whitfield and Blair Burk; and all-around cowboys Brazile (who won his first of 17 gold buckles that year), Jesse Bail and Cash Myers.

It’s awesome that rodeo is making strides, but these great contestants, especially the elite, need a chance to make more money every given year. We need more sponsorships, more fans and more growth to show the world what a great product we have.

We need to get the storylines out even more and push for a greater response. The cowboys and cowgirls deserve it. So does anyone else who loves this sport.

postheadericon Jarrett closes NFR with strong finish

LAS VEGAS – Ryan Jarrett put a nice finishing touch to his sixth trip to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Jarrett, the 2005 all-around world champion from Comanche, Okla., roped and tied his calf in 7.5 seconds to place fourth in the final go-round of the 2012 season. That $7,656 check, combined with the $11,484 he earned for placing in the average with the sixth best 10-round cumulative time, pushed Jarrett’s earnings to more than $51,000 at this year’s NFR.

Ryan Jarrett

Ryan Jarrett

“I had a really good calf in the last round,” said Jarrett, who grew up near Summerville, Ga. “I couldn’t complain about what all I had drawn all week. I had lots of chances to win money, and on a couple of them, I didn’t take advantage on it.

“I could’ve been a little faster in the round and made a few thousand more. You always want to do better, but I’ll take that.”

Jarrett finished eighth in the tie-down roping world standings with $125,849. He placed in four rounds, including a share of the sixth-round win with his good friend and traveling partner, Clint Robinson of Spanish Fork, Utah.

“Splitting the go-round win with my traveling partner was probably my biggest highlight this week,” Jarrett said.

He has seven qualifications to the NFR, six in tie-down roping and once in steer wrestling. He competed in both events in that magical 2005 season; he’s the only cowboy to have interrupted Trevor Brazile’s run of 10 all-around titles. It’s rare that cowboys qualify for the championship in multiple events, and proof came this year when Brazile missed the NFR in tie-down roping for the first time since 1999.

“It’s really hard to make it in two events,” Jarrett said. “To even do well in two events, it takes focus. Sometimes it gets in the way; sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I go take one job and a time and complete them.”

During the regular season, he won six tie-down roping titles and three all-round crowns. Still, he continues to be one of the top ropers in the business, only missing the finals twice – he suffered a torn knee ligament in 2007 and finished the 16th in the standings a year later, one spot out of qualifying for the NFR.

“It takes a little luck to make it, but more so, you have to take advantage of the moments,” Jarrett said.

postheadericon Armes earns big money in Vegas

LAS VEGAS – It was an emotional conclusion to the 2012 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for steer wrestler Bray Armes.

In his first qualification to ProRodeo’s grand championship, Armes put on quite a show. He placed in five go-rounds and put his stamp on the NFR with a 3.5-second run to finish second in Saturday’s 10th go-round. He also placed fourth in the average with a 10-round cumulative time of 55.2 seconds.

Bray Armes

Bray Armes

In all, Armes earned $85,397 in the City of Lights. That pushed him from 15th to sixth in the final world standings, with $131,249 in earnings.

“It’s amazing,” Armes said Saturday night, choking up a bit. “I’ve been blessed. I can’t put it all into words. I just thank the Lord.”

It’s been an incredible year for Armes, who returned to rodeo full time at the beginning of the season. Heading into the summer stretched, he jumped in the rig with two-time world champion Dean Gorsuch; the race to the NFR was on, but not without drama.

Armes needed an incredible finish to move into the 15th spot in the standings to secure his first trip to Las Vegas; he got it with key wins in Albuquerque, N.M., and Kansas City, Mo., in late September. Then he put on quite a show inside the Thomas and Mack Center, earning more money than all the other steer wrestlers in the field.

“It’s a dream come true and a great blessing,” he said. “It’s been awesome.”

So will his December earnings mean something different for Christmas?

“We’re going to get to move for Christmas,” Armes said, noting that he, his wife, Neelley, and their children, daughter Breely and son Drake, will leave the Texas Panhandle community of Gruver for a place north of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex – Neelley’s parents live in nearby Denton, Texas, while Bray’s parents live a little just 30 miles further. “Then the day after Christmas, I’ll have a little procedure done on my knee.”

Bray Armes’ final push came from a solid game plan. Armes was in the hunt for the elusive world championship and needed every advantage he could get. He was hoping a fast time could secure his first go-round win in his first NFR.

“I wanted to win buckles; I was going at it,” he said. “I was going to push the barrier as hard as I could and give it all I had.”

Las Vegas can be a wild place, and rodeo fans make it quite western during the NFR. Armes was able to enjoy all the experiences with his family right by his side.

“Couldn’t ask for anything more,” Armes said. “It’s just been crazy. It’s been fun.”

postheadericon Colletti finishes NFR on a high note

LAS VEGAS – The very best cowboys in the world are regular fixtures at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Casey Colletti is part of that group, now in his second season qualifying for ProRodeo’s grand finale. Though his gold buckle dreams vanished quickly this December, he realizes just how special it is to be in Las Vegas for 10 nights competing for the biggest money in the sport, a purse of $6.125 million.

Casey Colletti

Casey Colletti

“I definitely wanted to come here and win 10 rounds, and my goal was to win the average,” said Colletti, a bareback rider from Pueblo, Colo. “But I knew after the first round that wasn’t going to happen because I got bucked off. I was going for round wins.”

Go-round winners earned more than $18,000 each night, and Colletti earned that in the fifth round.

“I couldn’t be more happy,” he said. “I won the fifth round, the TV pen, and I was the highest marked bareback ride at the NFR.”

The fifth and 10th rounds feature the best of the best in bucking horses. The “TV pen,” refers to the days when only the 10th round was televised, so the elite bucking horses and bulls were scheduled to buck then. Winning those two rounds is quite an accomplishment, even for the greatest names in the sport.

“When you look around the locker room and you see all these guys, I still get goose bumps because they’re the best,” he said. “I’ve looked up to these guys for a long time. To be marked the highest among all of them, that’s pretty special.”

Colletti, who attended Garden City (Kan.) Community College on a rodeo scholarship, finished sixth on the final night. It was just the fourth time in 10 rounds that he earned round money, matching moves with Frontier Rodeo’s Delta Ship for 84 points.

“I’ve seen that horse buck the best guys off,” said Colletti, who pocketed $35,925 at the NFR, finishing 2012 with $102,559. “To be leaving here with money and not getting three scores, that’s pretty big. To be knocking heads with these guys is pretty special to me.”

Now he’s looking forward to next year.

“I’m going to try to go to as many rodeos as I can, because I’m dang sure going to be No. 1 in the world coming in here instead of 11th,” he said. “I’m going to try to knock heads with these guys from Denver (in January) to Omaha (in September) and really try to do that.”

That’s a man with a plan.

postheadericon Average money a bonus to McDaniel

LAS VEGAS – When you tie your hand to the back of the rankest bucking horses in the business, pain comes with it.

Justin McDaniel

Justin McDaniel

Justin McDaniel understands that as well as anyone who has ever ridden bareback horses. A cowboy’s hand is wedged into a rigging that is strapped tightly to fierce broncs, and every jump and every kick the animal provides in that eight-second ride is felt.

At the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, McDaniel mounted the rankest bucking beasts in the game for 10 straight nights, most of which while experiencing disc issues in his lower back and considerable pain in his riding shoulder. Still, he rode all 10 horses, placed in four go-rounds and finished fifth in the average race with a cumulative score of 801 points.

“I was just starting to feel good and wish I was just getting started,” said McDaniel, who rode C5 Rodeo’s Make Up Face for 78.5 points on Saturday to finish well out of the 10th-round money. “I got the horse I wanted in the last round. He kind of let me down and didn’t buck, but we held up in the average. That average check always helps.”

As the 2008 world champion, McDaniel should know. He’s won the average twice – in 2008 and 2010 – and finished second in the aggregate one other time. The $15,901 bonus pushed his NFR earnings to $38,968. The goal every year is to conclude the season with the world champion’s gold buckle, which goes to the contestants with the most money earned in each event.

The second goal is to have a solid NFR and finish the season on a high note.

“It’s not quite the NFR I wanted, but you can only do what you can do,” said McDaniel, 26, of Porum, Okla. “I’m not complaining at all. I’m thankful for everything I got this week.”

postheadericon Glause finishes solid NFR with a bang

LAS VEGAS – The 10th round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is the most exciting night in the sport each year.

It’s the final performance of the season, and, oftentimes, world championships are decided in one ride or run. Seth Glause has felt the excitement and anticipation before, but none of his previous three qualifications to the NFR featured so much for him.

Seth Glause

Seth Glause

Glause finished the season with a powerful point, riding Rafter H Rodeo Livestock’s News Flash for 81.5 points. That was good enough for second in the round and marked the fifth time in the championship he earned a qualified ride; he placed in all five rounds and finished second in the all-important NFR average race to Beau Schroeder.

In all, Glause earned $98,648 in Las Vegas, pushing his season earnings to $192,818.

“It keeps getting better and better for me,” Glause said of his NFR experience; he rode more bulls this December than he had in 2008, 2010 and 2011 combined.

Glause, of Rock Springs, Wyo., finished third in the world standings. Cody Teel, and NFR rookie, won the world championship, while three-time-titlist J.W. Harris finished second, but Glause was achingly close to the gold buckle himself. How close?

“I missed it by $10,000,” said Glause, who attended Central Wyoming College and Oklahoma Panhandle State University on rodeo scholarships. “That was .2 seconds on one bull, one second on a bull and two seconds the other night. That’s a little frustrating, but that’s rodeo.

“You can analyze it all you want, but I dang sure let them know I was here. I’m happy with that.”

He should be. Not very many people in the sport get that good of a shot at the elusive world championship. Teel is just the third cowboy to win one in the last five years.

“It’s amazing,” Glause said. “Everything went pretty well, and second in the average was pretty nice.”

Schroeder scored 423 points on his five rides to edge Glause in the average race by just six points. On top of that, he rode pretty well after having his nose shattered in the second round and his free-arm shoulder dislocated in the third.

“I’ve got too many people to try to thank that have supported me,” he said. “My dad’s been here, and my mom was here. My girlfriend’s been down here the whole time. My grandparents call me every week. I’ve got friends that are here and friends that I’ve made over the years that are always there. I’ve got more people that support me than I can even mention.”

postheadericon Scheer earns bonus in NFR average

LAS VEGAS – Cort Scheer’s run at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo wasn’t his best.

Sure, he shared the second-round victory, but that was the only night he placed. Frustrating is one description for the two-time NFR qualifier from Elsmere, Neb.

Cort Scheer

Cort Scheer

Motivating is another.

“I don’t think I rode as good as I should have, but I’m not going to get down about it,” said Scheer, a saddle bronc rider who attended Garden City (Kan.) Community College, Montana State University and Oklahoma Panhandle State University on rodeo scholarships.

“I could complain about it and get all upset, but that’s rodeo. Now I’m dang sure excited about next year.”

Scheer rode eight of 10 broncs and, most importantly, placed in the average by having the fifth best cumulative score. That $15,901 bonus pushed the Nebraskans NFR earnings to $30,429. He finished the season ninth in the world standings with $98,180.

“I’m happy with it,” he said. “You see lots of guys come in here and not win a dime. I didn’t win anything close to what I expected. You can either let that get you down, or you can thrive on it and build for next year.

The support system in his corner is a key part of his positive attitude; it takes a lot of help and the right mind-set to be one of the best in the game, and Scheer is.

“I’ve got my sponsors behind me, and my family’s always supporting me,” he said. “They never had a negative moment this whole finals. You see a lot of guys come in here, and they don’t do what they thought they could. That just happens.

“I don’t have any regrets. You learn from everything. I can’t wait until next year. I’m excited.”

postheadericon Pierce finishes 2nd in world standings

LAS VEGAS – Carlee Pierce and Rare Dillion scored the fastest two runs at this year’s Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the latter of which put an exclamation point to a fantastic 2012 campaign.

 

Carlee Pierce

Carlee Pierce

The tandem circled the pattern in 13.57 seconds on Saturday night to win the 10th go-round – the final night of the season; it was her second round victory, the other coming with a 13.51 on the sixth night of the championship. That final check worth $18,257 pushed Pierce’s NFR earnings to $79,802.

Most importantly, it pushed her season earnings to $204,322, enough to finish as runner-up to world champion Mary Walker.

“Dillion felt really good today,” said Pierce, who owns the arena record with a 13.46-second run in 2011. “He was excited to be here. I think I need 10 more rounds. Next year I’m going to change that up a little bit and have 10 good rounds instead of having a few great runs.”

In two trips to ProRodeo’s grand finale, Pierce has earned more than $130,000. She placed in five rounds, including three second-place finishes.

But it’s been a year of seconds. Pierce earned runner-up finishes at several bit events in 2012 – Houston, San Antonio, Cody (Wyo.), the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo and the Canadian Finals Rodeo. She finished 2011 fourth in the final world standings, then took another giant leap this season.

“I wasn’t expecting to be the reserve world champion at all,” she said inside the NFR media room. “I just came back here to get my fast-time saddle, and Kathi (Myers) told me she was waiting on the results and that I might be the reserve champion.

“I’m just moving up the ladder. That next year is my gold buckle year. I’m going to work real hard at it.”

postheadericon Round 10, barrel racing

Barrel racing: 1. Carlee Pierce, 13.57 seconds, $18,257; 2. Lisa Lockhart, 13.76, $14,429; 3. Lee Ann Rust, 13.87, $10,895; 4. Kaley Bass, 13.96, $7,656; 5. Nikki Steffes, 13.97, $4,712; 6. Mary Walker, 14.01, $2,945. AVERAGE: 1. Brenda Mays, 141.79/10, $46,821; 2. Mary Walker, 143.52/10, $37,987; 3. Lisa Lockhart, 143.96/10, $30,036; 4. Kaley Bass, 144.69/10, $22,085; 5. Nikki Steffes, 147.19/10, $15,901; 6. Christina Richman, 156.32/10, $11,484; 7. Christy Loflin, 158.41/10, $7,951; 8. Lindsay Sears, 158.97/10, $4,417. WORLD CHAMPION: Mary Walker.

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