Archive for December, 2014

postheadericon Irwin wins reserve world title

LAS VEGAS – It didn’t take steer wrestler Kyle Irwin long to reflect on his 2014 season.

Just moments after making his final run at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo on Saturday, the Robertsdale, Ala., cowboy knew he’d lived a magical season, including $88,000 earned over 10 December nights in Sin City.

Kyle Irwin

Kyle Irwin

“It was everything I have ever dreamed of and everything I thought it would be and more,” said Irwin, 24, who attended Western Oklahoma College and Northwestern Oklahoma State University on rodeo scholarships. “It was a great experience, and it did something for me nothing else could have: It’s got me wanting to get back here.”

He should. The NFR is the sport’s grand finale, and only the top 15 contestants in each event earn the right to play for the biggest pay in the game. Irwin finished the campaign with $147,699, second in the world standings in a field that included many Las Vegas regulars. It was an outstanding performance for a first-time cowboy.

He placed in six go-rounds and earned at least a share of the go-round win on three nights – he split the second and eighth rounds and won the third outright. His cumulative time of 60.7 seconds on 10 runs was fourth best.

What did he learn most from his experience?

“Winning and losing, if that makes sense,” Irwin said. “I knew I had the talent and the capability, but once you put yourself in this situation with 14 of the best, you test yourself. I knew I could do it and believe in myself, but it’s still a test.

“Losing is going to help me mature. I’m not going to say if I didn’t make a few of the mistakes I made this week I would’ve been the world champ, because Luke was tough this week, but it would’ve made things a little more interesting. It gives me a little more humbling experience to go home and work on some things and do a little fine-tuning for when we come back.”

He plans to return, but he proved over the season why he earned the right to compete among steer wrestling’s elite.

“This is big for my family,” he said. “My family and my hometown was already behind me, but now we just took it to another level. It was great to share this experience with my family and my friends.

“I’m honored to get to do that again and already look forward to doing it again next year.”

postheadericon Bennett wins final round at NFR

LAS VEGAS – It takes a strong faith and belief in oneself to battle through pain and struggles in order to persevere and find victory.

Caleb Bennett has that. Bennett placed in just two go-rounds at the 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and earned $27,000 over the 10 nights of the championship. That’s an outstanding week of work, but 11 bareback riders in the field earned more.

Caleb Bennett

Caleb Bennett

“It’s been a rough week, not able to draw the right horses and a bad shoulder,” said Bennett of Tremonton, Utah. “But I couldn’t be more blessed and ask for anything more than to end it the way I did on Dirty Jacket.”

On Saturday night during the 10th round, Bennett rode the Bareback Horse of the Year, Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Dirty Jacket, for 86.5 points to win the title. Most of his NFR earnings came in the final night of the season, when he pocketed $19,000. It helps to have the best horse going; in addition to guiding Bennett to the Round 10 title, the 10-year-old bay gelding also helped Richmond Champion to the fifth-round crown.

“That’s a phenomenal horse and definitely one of the wants you want to have in this round,” he said, noting that the fifth- and 10th-round horses are considered the greatest animals from the season. “It feels awesome to just get another go-round buckle under my belt.”

Now competing at the NFR for the third straight year, the Utah cowboy has won one round each December. He won the first round in 2013, then waited until the final round this year. He already has adjusted the goals he had before the finale began.

“Yeah, I don’t know if I’ll ever say again that I want to finish stronger than I started,” Bennett said with a laugh. “Maybe I should say I want to finish as strong as I start.”

The reality is his season is finished. He closes the book on 2014 with $111,299, good enough for 12th in the world standings.

“That $27,000 is a great chunk of change for 10 days, so I’m not going to complain a bit,” he said. “I’m a little disappointed with the way things turned out, but this is still great, and it gives me an extra $30,000 to go home and put toward things to get ready for next year.”

The main focus will be on healing. Bennett’s left shoulder has caused him considerable pain, which is even more difficult in bareback riding, where he is locked onto the horse through the ride.

“I’m going to get my shoulder healed up and get to feeling better and be in even better shape,” Bennett said. “I’ve already set in my mind that I’m coming for them next year, and I want to be a top three or four contender at this deal next year and not just top 10 or 15.

“This week was actually a true test for me. But I kept thinking positively and kept replaying my good rides from this year. It might take me until the 10th round to win the go-round buckle, but I did it.”

That positivity went a long ways through a rough NFR. It will help next year, too.

postheadericon Cooper cleans up on final night

LAS VEGAS – For all his struggles over the 10 nights of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Jim Ross Cooper ended the 2014 season with a bang.

Jim Ross Cooper

Jim Ross Cooper

The “Riding for the Brand” team roping heeler from Monument, N.M., placed in just three go-rounds with partner Brandon Beers. On Saturday night during the 10th go-round, the team stopped the clock in 4.1 seconds to win $19,002. In all, they earned nearly $37,000.

That’s still a pretty solid week and a half of work for the cowboys. This was Cooper’s fifth qualification to the NFR, and their second-best finish.

It wasn’t a solid finish for the other two Tate Branch Auto Group cowboys, saddle bronc rider Taos Muncy and tie-down roper Clint Cooper.

Muncy, a two-time world champion from Corona, N.M., failed to record a score Saturday night. Still, he finished seventh in the 10-round average, riding eight horses for a cumulative score of 612.5 points. He pocketed almost $23,000 at the NFR and finished sixth in the world standings.

Clint Cooper, who grew up in Lovington, N.M., and lives in Decatur, Texas, suffered a no-time in Round 10. Still, he earned nearly $39,000 in Sin City and finished 12th on the money list. His half-brother, Tuf, won his third world championship.

postheadericon Only 2 ride in bull riding

1. Tyler Smith on Frontier Rodeo’s Dirty Cop, 84.5 points, $19,002; 2. Beau Hill, 60, $15,018; no other qualified rides. Average: 1. Sage Kimzey, 671 on eight head, $48,732; 2. Joe Frost, 490.5 on six, $39,537; 3. Beau Hill, 374 on five, $31,262; 4. Tyler Smith, 322.5 on four, $22,987; 5. Cody Teel, 322, $16,550; 6. J.W. Harris, 310.5, $11,953; 7. Elliot Jacoby, 254 on three, $8,275; 8. Trey Benton III, 252.5, $4,597. World champion: Sage Kimzey, $318,631.

postheadericon Fallon takes the crown

1. Mary Walker, 13.90 seconds, $19,002; 2. Fallon Taylor, 13.96, $15,018; 3. Carlee Pierce, 13.97, $11,340; 4. Michele McLeod, 13.99, $7,969; 5. Christy Loflin, 14.00, $4,904; 6. Lisa Lockhart, 14.02, $3,065. Average: 1. Lisa Lockhart, 144.93 seconds on 10 runs, $48,732; 2. Fallon Taylor, 145.1, $39,537; 3. Kaley Bass, 147.15, $31,262; 4. Britany Diaz, 147.37, $22,986; 5. Michele McLeod, 151.06, $16,550; 6. Carlee Pierce, 151.61, $11,953; 7. Jana Bean, 151.97, $8,275; 8. Trula Churchill, 154.84, $4,597. World champion: Fallon Taylor, $276,441.

postheadericon Tuf wins his third world title

1. Cody Ohl, 6.8 seconds, $19,002; 2. Adam Gray, 7.2, 415, $15,018; 3. (tie) Reese Reimer and Tyson Durfey, 7.3, $9,654; 5. (tie) Clint Robinson and Hunter Herrin, 7.6, $3,984. Average: 1. Tuf Cooper, 89.7 seconds on 10 runs, $48,732; 2. Trevor Brazile, 93.1, $39,537; 3. Matt Shiozawa, 97.6, $31,262; 4. Ryan Watkins, 100.7, $22,987; 5. Cade Swor, 110.4, $16,550; 6. Shane Hanchey, 123.3, $11,953; 7. Clint Robinson, 108.2 on nine, $8,275; 8. Reese Reimer, 110.1, $4,597.

postheadericon Spencer wins Wrights’ 4th title

1. Cody DeMoss, 86 points on Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Resistol’s Top Hat, $19,002; 2. Jacobs Crawley, 83, $15.018; 3. Wade Sundell, 82, $11,340; 4. Jesse Wright, 81.5, $7,969; 5. Spencer Wright, 79, $4,904; 6. Jake Wright, 78, $3,064. Average: 1. Spencer Wright, 807.5 on 10 head, $48,732; 2. Cort Scheer, 764, $39,537; 3. Jake Wright, 704.5 on nine, $31,262; 4. Jesse Wright, 688, $22,987; 5. Wade Sundell, 647.5 on eight, $16,550; 6. Jacobs Crawley, 623, $11,953; 7. Taos Muncy, 612.5, $8,275; 8. Dustin Flundra, 598.5, $4,597.

postheadericon Waiting on results, but Spencer Wright is champ

The youngest of the NFR Wright brothers won the average and gold buckles.

postheadericon Tryan, Corkill repeat as champs

1. Brandon Beers/Jim Ross Cooper, 4.1 seconds, $19,002; 2. Tom Richards/Cesar de la Cruz, 4.6, $15,018; 3. Aaron Tsinigine/Clay O’Brien Cooper, 5.5, $11,304; 4. Clay Tryan/Jade Corkill, 6.0, $7,969;  5. Jake Barnes/Junior Nogueira and Riley Minor/Brady Minor, 6.5, $3,985 each. Average: 1. Clay Tryan/Jade Corkill, 70.1 on 10 head, $48,732; 2. Jake Barnes/Junior Nogueira, 57.1, on nine $39,537; 3. Aaron Tsiningine/Clay O’Brien Cooper, 71.4, $31,262; 4. Coleman Proctor/Jake Long, 52.8 on eight, $22,987; 5. Trevor Brazile/Travis Graves, 60.5, $16,550; 6. Kaleb Driggers/Patrick Smith, 61.2, $11,953; 7. Erich Rogers/Cory Petska, 73.8, $8,275; 8. Turtle Powell/Dakota Kirchenschlager, 58.0 on seven, $4,597.

postheadericon Branquinho wins fifth gold buckle

Steer wrestling: 1. Dru Melvin, 3.4, $19,002; 2. Casey Martin, 4.0, $15,018; 3. Clayton Haas, 4.1, $11,340;  4. Seth Brockman, 4.2, $7,969; 5. Cole Edge, 4.4, $4,904; 6. Kyle Irwin, 4.5, $3,065. Average: 1. Luke Branquinho, 41.6 seconds on 10 head, $48,732; 2. Ty Erickson, 49.3, $39,537; 3. Dakota Eldridge, 56.0, $31,262; 4. Kyle Irwin, 60.7, $22,987; 5. Cole Edge, 71.8, $16,550; 6. Casey Martin, 41.1 on nine, $11,953; 7. Nick Guy, 43.3, $8,275; 8. Clayton Hass, 44.5, $4,597.

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