LAS VEGAS – Every one of the 120 contestants at the 2012 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo experienced considerable nervousness and quite a bit of anxiety.
None did it more than Casey Colletti, a two-time qualifier from Pueblo, Colo. He was the first contestant to compete during Thursday’s second go-round, so all that pressure of the $6.5 million purse laid upon his 155-pound shoulders.
“It’s exciting, but it’s nerve-wracking,” said Colletti, who will celebrate his 27th birthday on Dec. 21. “There’s a lot of pressure. Everybody’s waiting on you, the judges, the announcers, and they want the first night to go off without a hitch.
“I couldn’t spit for 30 minutes I was so nervous.”
He did. Colletti matched moves with Korkow Rodeo’s Flaxy Lady for 85 points to finish third in the round, collecting $10,895 in the process.
“That’s a good horse that I had in Guymon (Okla.),” he said. “I didn’t place there, but she just stalled out there part way down the arena. I didn’t get to watch it on the replace because I was so excited.”
A horse that “stalls out” will continue to buck and kick, but the animal seems to do so in one spot. That allows for the judges to get a perfect view of the ride and gives the cowboy a chance to show off his spurring motion, which, oftentimes, results in higher scores overall.
That’s what happened for Colletti. That third-place check moved his season earnings to $77,529. More importantly, it puts him in a good place as he prepares for the next nine rounds. Of course, preparation has been the young cowboy’s focus.
“I’ve been working out hard for the past couple of months,” he said. “I gave myself a week off after Omaha (the end of September) and just did nothing. Then we worked out six days a week, sometimes seven.”
He did that for about a month, then competed at the Ram Mountain States Circuit Finals Rodeo and the Texas Stampede before returning to his workout regimen.
“This week I’ve pretty much taken it easy,” said Colletti, who attended Garden City (Kan.) Community College on a rodeo scholarship. “I’ve ridden the bike the past couple of days to stay loose, but I don’t want to do anything that’s going to make me sore. I’ll be sore enough in a couple days just riding bareback horses.”