Archive for December, 2017

postheadericon 10th round results from 2017 NFR

Tim O'Connell

Tim O’Connell

Bareback riding: (tie) Steven Dent on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Scarlett’s Web and Mason Clements on Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Utah Top Flight, 88 points, $23,481 each; 3. Bill Tutor, 87.5, $15,654; 4. (tie) Richmond Champion and Ty Breuer, 86.5, $8,885 each; 6. J.R. Vezain, 86, $4,231; 7. Tim O’Connell, 85.5; 8. Caleb Bennett, 84; 9. Tanner Aus, 82.5; 10. Clayton Biglow, 82; 11. Orin Larsen, 81.5; 12. Wyatt Denny, 81; 13. R.C. Landingham, 79.5; 14. Jake Vold, NS. Jake Vold (out for the last two rounds after dislocated knee). Average standings: 1. Tim O’Connell, 853.5 points on 10 head; 2. Richmond Champion, 847.5; 3. J.R. Vezain, 842; 4. Caleb Bennett, 835.5; 5. Tanner Aus, 829.5; 6. Steven Dent, 825; 7. Ty Breuer, 814.5; 8. Bill Tutor, 802.5. World standings: 1. Tim O’Connell, $371,416; 2. Richmond Champion, $268,511; 3. Tanner Aus, $235,715; 4. J.R. Vezain, $220,831; 5. Clayton Biglow, $200,557; 6. Caleb Bennett, $195,088; 7. Jake Vold, $185,706; 8. Orin Larsen, $171,009; 9. Steven Dent, $170,709; 10. Mason Clements, $166,486; 11. Bill Tutor, $166,398; 12. Jake Brown, $161,866; 13. Ty Breuer, $145,645; 14. Wyatt Denny, $140,084; 15. R.C. Landingham, $106,031.

Tyler Pearson

Tyler Pearson

Steer wrestling: 1. Tyler Waguespack, 3.2 seconds, $26,231; 2. Scott Guenthner, 3.6, $20,731; 3. J.D. Struxness, 4.2, $15,654; 4. Ty Erickson, 4.5, $11,000; 5. Jon Ragatz, 4.7, $6,769; 6. Kyle Irwin, 4.8, $4,231; 7. Olin Hannum, 4.9; 8. Chason Floyd, 5.1; 9. (tie) Tyler Pearson and Dakota Eldridge, 5.2 each; 11. Ryle Smith, Baylor Roche, Tanner Milan, Nick Guy and Rowdy Parrott, NT. Average standings: 1. Dakota Eldridge, 45.4 seconds on 10 head; 2. Tyler Pearson, 45.9; 3. Kyle Irwin, 46.6; 4. J.D. Struxness, 56.5; 5. Scott Guenthner, 58.3; 6. Ty Erickson, 66.0; 7. Rowdy Parrott, 41.4 on nine; 8. Olin Hannum, 43.5. World standings: 1. Tyler Pearson, $265,457; 2. Ty Erickson, $263,267; 3. Dakota Eldridge, $245,333; 4. Tyler Waguespack, $231,277; 5. Kyle Irwin, $194,819; 6. Scott Guenthner, $186,839; 7. J.D. Struxness, $185,921; 8. Tanner Milan, $156,266; 9. Olin Hannum, $145,631; 10. Baylor Roche, $144,455; 11. Chason Floyd, $143,018; 12. Rowdy Parrott, $142,704; 13. Jon Ragatz, $137,178; 14. Nick Guy, $110,878; 15. Ryle Smith, $103,463.

Erich Rogers

Erich Rogers

Team roping: 1. Garrett Rogers/Jake Minor, 4.1 seconds, $26,231; 2. Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira, 4.7, $20,731; 3. Coleman Proctor/Billie Jack Saebens, 4.8, $15,654; 4. Chad Masters/Travis Graves, 5.4, $11,000; 5. Erich Rogers/Cory Petska, 8.3, $6,769; 6. Riley Minor/Brady Minor, 9.6, $4,231; 7. Charly Crawford/Joseph Harrison, 9.8; 8. Dustin Egusquiza/Kory Koontz, 10.0; 9. Luke Brown/Jake Long, Clay Smith/Paul Eaves, Cody Snow/Wesley Thorp, Dustin Bird/Russell Cardoza, Clay Tryan/Jade Corkill, Tom Richards/Jeremy Buhler and Jr. Dees/Tyler McKnight, NT. Average standings: 1. Chad Masters/Travis Graves, 61.2 seconds on 10 head; 2. Erich Rogers/Cory Petska, 53.9 on nine; 3. Riley Minor/Brady Minor, 56.7; 4. Coleman Proctor/Billie Jack Saebens, 61.6; 5. Charly Crawford/Joseph Harrison, 43.0 on eight; 6. Dustin Egusquiza/Kory Koontz, 45.3; 7. Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira, 58.9; 8. Luke Brown/Jake Long, 36.2 on seven. World standings: (headers) 1. Erich Rogers, $265,417; 2. Kaleb Driggers, $254,471; 3. Riley Minor, $220,183; 4. Luke Brown, $216,804; 5. Clay Smith, $197,556; 6. Chad Masters, $195,778; 7. Coleman Proctor, $184,398; 8. Dustin Egusquiza, $182,206; 9. Charly Crawford, $156,552; 10. Clay Tryan, $153,999; 11. Jr. Dees, $149,887; 12. Garrett Rogers, $133,069; 13. Dustin Bird, $114,519; 14. Cody Snow, $112,716; 15. Tom Richards, $111,511. (heelers) 1.Cory Petska, $265,417; 2. Junior Nogueira, $255,201; 3. Brady Minor, $220,183; 4. Jake Long, $208,275; 5. Travis Graves, $202,688; 6. Paul Eaves, $201,673; 7. Billie Jack Saebens, $197,295; 8. Kory Koontz, $179,421; 9. Joseph Harrison, $160,793; 10. Jade Corkill, $153,999; 11. Tyler McKnight, $150,297; 12. Russell Cardoza, $136,004; 13. Jake Minor, $133,069; 14. Wesley Thorp, $114,317; 15. Jeremy Buhler, $98,102.

Ryder Wright

Ryder Wright

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Taos Muncy, 87.5 points on Bar T Rodeo’s Son of Sadie, $26,231; 2. (tie) CoBurn Bradshaw and Jake Wright, 86.5, $18,192 each. 4. Brody Cress, 86, $11,000; 5. Clay Elliott, 83.5, $6,769; 6. (tie) Cody DeMoss and Hardy Braden, 82, $2,115 each; 8. Zeke Thurston, 79.5; 9. Jacobs Crawley, Layton Green, Sterling Crawley, Ryder Wright, Heith DeMoss, Audy Reed and Jesse Wright, NT. Average standings: 1. Brody Cress, 841.5 points on 10 head; 2. Hardy Braden, 764 on nine; 3. CoBurn Bradshaw, 757.5; 4. Sterling Crawley, 742.5; 5. Audy Reed, 721.5; 6. Jake Wright, 718.5; 7. Ryder Wright, 702.5 on eight; 8. Jacobs Crawley, 649.5. World standings: 1. Ryder Wright, $284,938; 2. Brody Cress, $282,287; 3. CoBurn Bradshaw, $274,577; 4. Hardy Braden, $262,966; 5. Jacobs Crawley, $233,274; 6. Sterling Crawley, $215,530; 7. Zeke Thurston, $199,917; 8. Jake Wright, $168,450; 9. Layton Green, $156,292; 10. Cody DeMoss, $155,887; 11. Taos Muncy, $142,402; 12. Audy Reed, $133,033; 13. Heith DeMoss, $129,568; 14. Clay Elliott, $121,755; 15. Jesse Wright, $109,053.

Tie-down roping: 1. Marcos Costa, 7.8 seconds, $26,231; 2. Cory Solomon, 8.1, $20,731; 3. Tyson Durfey, 8.2, $15,654; 4. Caleb Smidt, 8.3, $11,000; 5. (tie) Marty Yates and Cade Swor, 8.9, $5,500 each; 7. Trevor Brazile, 9.9; 8. (tie) Ryan Jarrett and Cooper Martin, 10.1 each; 10. J.C. Malone, 10.9; 11. Tuf Cooper, 11.0; 12. Matt Shiozawa, 11.4; 13. Timber Moore, 11.5; 14. Randall Carlisle, 13.7; 15. Shane Hanchey, 14.1. Average standings: 1. Marcos Costa, 81.3 seconds on 10 head; 2. Tuf Cooper, 91.0; 3. Cory Solomon, 96.5; 4. Cade Swor, 103.7; 5. Shane Hanchey, 103.9; 6. Marty Yates, 84.5 on nine; 7. J.C. Malone, 86.2; 8. Timber Moore, 87.1. World standings: 1. Marcos Costa, $317,421; 2. Tuf Cooper, $301,983; 3. Marty Yates, $233,673; 4. Cade Swor, $210,748; 5. Caleb Smidt, $209,098; 6. Shane Hanchey, $203,460; 7. Cory Solomon, $202,460; 8. Trevor Brazile, $177,010; 9. Cooper Martin, $151,284; 10. Timber Moore, $148,423; 11. Ryan Jarrett, $144,979; 12. Tyson Durfey, $139,846; 13. Matt Shiozawa, $135,094; 14. J.C. Malone, $132,261; 15. Randall Carlisle, $130,681.

Barrel racing: 1. Hailey Kinsel, 13.17 seconds, $26,231; 2. Sydni Blanchard, 13.39, $20,731; 3. Amberleigh Moore, 13.42, $15,654; 4. Taci Bettis, 13.54, $11,000; 5. Ivy Conrado, 13.60, $6,769; 6. Lisa Lockhart, 13.76, $4,231; 7. Nellie Miller, 13.85; 8. Tiany Schuster, 13.92; 9. Kathy Grimes, 13.97; 10. Tillar Murray, 14.0; 11. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 14.08; 12. Kellie Collier, 14.25; 13. Stevi Hillman, 14.35; 14. Kassie Mowry, 18.49; 15. Kimmie Wall, 21.83. Average standings: 1. Nellie Miller, 137.32 seconds on 10 runs; 2. Ivy Conrado, 137.4; 3. Lisa Lockhart, 138.12; 4. Tillar Murray, 142.89; 5. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 144.01; 6. Hailey Kinsel, 144.95; 7. Kathy Grimes, 149.55; 8. Kellie Collier, 153.08. World standings: 1. Nellie Miller, $308,498; 2. Hailey Kinsel, $288,092; 3. Tiany Schuster, $285,339; 4. Amberleigh Moore, $240,806; 5. Ivy Conrado, $232,521; 6. Tillar Murray, $203,904; 7. Lisa Lockhart, $203,550; 8. Stevi Hillman, $199,619; 9. Kassie Mowry, $189,047; 10. Taci Bettis, $162,446; 11. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, $161,173; 12. Kathy Grimes, $150,978; 13. Sydni Blanchard, $144,516; 14. Kellie Collier, $108,146; 15. Kimmie Wall, $86,294.

Bull riding: 1. Sage Kimzey, 88 points on 4L & Diamond S Rodeo’s Girl Money, $28,981; 2. Jordan Spears, 86, $23,481; 3. Joe Frost, 82.5, $18,404; 4. Ty Wallace, 80.5, $13,750; 5. Garrett Smith, Trey Benton III, Tim Bingham, Cole Melancon, Dustin Bowen, Jordan Hansen, Roscoe Jarboe, Trevor Reiste, Guthrie Murray, Brennon Eldred and Boudreaux Campbell, NS. Average standings: 1. Sage Kimzey, 601.5 points on seven head; 2. Joe Frost, 585; 3. Trey Benton III, 530.5 on six; 4. Ty Wallace, 500.5; 5. Cole Melancon, 340 on four; 6. Jordan Hansen, 338; 7. Jordan Spears, 254 on three; 8. Garrett Smith, 252.5. World standings: 1. Sage Kimzey, $436,479; 2. Trey Benton III, $322,208; 3. Ty Wallace, $305,352; 4. Joe Frost, $304,566; 5. Garrett Smith, $260,143; 6. Cole Melancon, $200,350; 7. Jordan Spears, $197,057; 8. Jordan Hansen, $180,295; 9. Roscoe Jarboe, $156,855; 10. Boudreaux Campbell, $144,601; 11. Tim Bingham, $129,515; 12. Guthrie Murray, $124,576; 13. Trevor Reiste, $107,121; 14. Dustin Bowen, $104,668; 15. Brennon Eldred, $102,991.

All-around world standings: 1. Tuf Cooper, $341,560; 2. Trevor Brazile, $319,337; 3. Dakota Eldridge, $268,553; 4. Erich Rogers, $260,470; 5. Junior Nogueira, $256,923; 6. Marty Yates, $225,784; 7. Caleb Smidt, $218,894; 8. Ryle Smith, $150,876; 9. Russell Cardoza, $149,026.

postheadericon Pearson snags bulldogging title

Tyler Pearson tries to maintain hold of his final steer during his world-championship season during the 10th round of the National Finals Rodeo. It is his first gold buckle. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Tyler Pearson tries to maintain hold of his final steer during his world-championship season during the 10th round of the National Finals Rodeo. It is his first gold buckle. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

LAS VEGAS – Tyler Pearson’s good week got better in a hurry Saturday night.

Pearson closed out his second appearance at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo with the most cherished prize in the game, the Montana Silversmiths gold buckle. He placed five times in 10 nights, wrestling 10 steers to the ground in 45.9 seconds to finish second in the average.

In all, he pocketed $155,538 in Sin City, increasing his 2017 season earnings to $265,457. He beat his good friend, Montanan Ty Erickson, by just $2,200 to claim the gold.

“I had no idea what was going to go on today,” said Pearson, a Louisville, Miss., cowboy now living in Atoka, Okla. “I knew I just needed to throw a steer down.”

Tyler Pearson

Tyler Pearson

It came down to the final night of the rodeo season after Erickson was saddled with a 26.8-second run during Friday’s ninth round, when the steer nearly slipped through his grasp – he held on and trailed the steer as he finally settled on the long time. But it pushed him down the average race. He went from first to sixth, and Pearson remained No. 2.

The $54,577 Pearson earned by having the second best cumulative time pushed the Mississippi bulldogger to the top.

“I hated it so bad for Ty last night,” Pearson said. “I knew I had a chance. I did not know what I needed to do coming in to today. I just wanted to get a good start and throw my steer down. I had no idea I won until just a little bit ago.

“It is unbelievable. This is a dream come true.”

Every cowboy and cowgirl that has come up in the sport has dreamed of that gold buckle. It’s a lifetime love affair, and it’s special. But it’s one he’s worked hard for. Bulldogging didn’t come easy, but his work ethic and focus have guided him to the top of the mountain.

“Sure, every guy wants to win the world title, but if I could pick the person who deserved it most, it would be Tyler,” said Kyle Irwin, Pearson’s traveling partner and the other half of the co-ownership of their mount, Scooter, the 2017 Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year. “I made the finals in ’14 and ’15, and he came up short, but he never stopped. He always believed in me. He helps other people.

“He went through a lot last year with a flood in Louisiana, made it through that and moved to Oklahoma. He never gave up, he never quit. He believed in our horses, himself, our team, then he trusted me to come here and haze for him. For him to win the world title means everything to me.”

It helps to have such great horsepower. In addition to Irwin and Pearson, Scooter carried Erickson and reigning champ Tyler Waguespack through 10 rounds. Combined, they earned nearly $230,000. Pearson added another $40,772 in mount money, a percentage of earnings by the other two bulldoggers.

“Horsepower is everything here,” Pearson said. “Scooter is absolutely amazing. I’m glad this thing is over so he can rest. The four of us profited a good amount.

“I came into this year’s NFR prepared. The last time I came, I was crippled, and I had been bulldogging good. To come in healthy one time and get some practice hours meant a lot. I practiced every day for about two months, and I’m sure glad it paid off.”

postheadericon O’Connell wraps up 2nd world title

Tim O'Connell rides the victory-lap horse after winning the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo average title. O'Connell also earned his second straight world championship (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Tim O’Connell rides the victory-lap horse after winning the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo average title. O’Connell also earned his second straight world championship (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

LAS VEGAS – Bareback riding can be likened to a fistfight, with animal and athlete taking blows and throwing haymakers.

While battling for his second straight world championship, Tim O’Connell has had to fight through every step of the 2017 season. It paid off to the tune of $371,416. He won the Montana Silversmiths gold buckle by $103,000 and was less than $3,000 from the earnings mark he set a year ago.

Tim O'Connell

Tim O’Connell

“I truly believe this one was harder to win than the first one,” said O’Connell, of Zwingle, Iowa. “There is a different approach to the year. There is a different mindset. There is a different hunger. To come here and compete against these guys, the brotherhood that we have in that locker room, the rankest horses in the world.”

He rode the rankest of them all and placed seven of 10 nights. He scored 91.5 points in Round 3 to tie the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo arena record.

“We have the best 105 horses to ever set foot in this arena and the best 15 bareback riders,” he said. “We just put a show on for everyone for the last 10 days. My hat’s off to those guys in the locker room for the last 10 days for pushing me to be the very best I can be.”

He started strong, then had to overcome a stomach illness to return to the winner’s circle. He didn’t let it slow him or shake him. He persevered, but that’s what world champions do.

“The middle of the week was a little rough for me with everything that happened,” O’Connell said. “The Lord took care of me. He put me on great draws all week. He didn’t put me on anything I couldn’t handle.

“My hat’s off to my Lord and savior.”

Hats are also off for O’Connell, who takes the gold back to Iowa for the second straight year.

postheadericon Braden finding NFR success

Hardy Braden rides Lancaster & Jones's Angel Fire for 85.5 points to finish in a tie for third place in Friday's ninth round of the Wrangler national Finals Rodeo. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Hardy Braden rides Lancaster & Jones’s Angel Fire for 85.5 points to finish in a tie for third place in Friday’s ninth round of the Wrangler national Finals Rodeo. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

LAS VEGAS – The shouts from Oklahoma are almost heard in the Nevada desert.

Hardy Braden knows he has many people cheering him on in the Sooner State and several rooting for him in southeast Kansas. He is from the tiny town of Welch, Okla., and attended college at Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College and Oklahoma Panhandle State University.

“It’s a special deal that I’m here to represent all that, and I’m glad it is working out well,” said Braden, who has more than doubled his season earnings while competing at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

He entered ProRodeo’s championship with $102,774 and was ninth in the world standings. Over the first nine nights of the NFR, he has pocketed $103,500. He is now fourth in the world standings with a chance to cash in even more in Saturday’s 10th go-round.

“I’m going to blame it on luck,” he said with a laugh.

On Friday night, he rode Lancaster & Jones Pro Rodeo’s Angel Fire for 85.5 points to finish in a tie for third place. He added $13,327 to his income.

“It was a little touch and go there for a bit,” Braden said. “She got up off the ground and had a lot of timing in there. Thank goodness she didn’t have any moves toward the end, because I was getting loose in the saddle, and she’s a bucker, so any moves could’ve put me on the ground.”

The talented bay didn’t, though. Braden has ridden eight of nine horses – he was bucked off in the second round, which featured the hardest-to-ride horses in the world; he was just one of eight cowboys who failed to get a score that night.

Since then, he’s ridden them all and placed seven nights.

“I got to make this kind of money riding bucking horses, doing something I love,” he said. “Not a lot of people can say that. Not many people make that much money doing something they love.

“It’s better than winning the lottery.”

And Hardy Braden has the winning ticket.


postheadericon Jarrett finds a nice place at NFR

Ryan Jarrett dismounts his talented, young horse, Snoopy, en route to a 7.9-second run to finish sixth during Friday's ninth round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Ryan Jarrett dismounts his talented, young horse, Snoopy, en route to a 7.9-second run to finish sixth during Friday’s ninth round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

LAS VEGAS – Ryan Jarrett may not like the number, 6, but he’ll take it.

Through nine nights of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the tie-down roper from Comanche, Okla., has placed four times – he won the opening round, then finished sixth in Rounds 5, 6 and 9. He hopes to change that Saturday night during the 10th round of this yea’s championship.

“I had a pretty good calf, but I should have finished third or better,” he said of his ninth-round run, in which he roped and tied his calf in 7.9 seconds to earn $4,231. “It ended up being a 7.9 instead of being 7.0 or 7.1.”

Ryan Jarrett

Ryan Jarrett

Shane Hanchey, the 2013 world champion, tied the fastest run of the week with a 6.9 to win the round, but there were fast times all night. Twice this week, Jarrett placed with runs in the 8-second range. He’ll take it. He has pushed his NFR earnings to almost $49,000.

“It all adds up, but it would be alright with me to top it off with a win (Saturday),” he said. “That would be a good way to end the 2017 season. A go-round win would have me at $75,000. That’s what I was shooting for when I arrived, but sometimes things don’t work out.”

That is ProRodeo’s grand championship in a nutshell. While saddle bronc rider Ryder Wright has earned $174,000 in Las Vegas, there are several cowboys and cowgirls that haven’t cashed in at all. For Jarrett, he’ll take whatever he can get.

“it’s the way the chips fall out here,” he said. I’ve been on the end when you could do no wrong, and I’ve been on the slow end, too.

“I’m not doing anything different. My horse has been working good. I don’t have to worry about him at all. I was curious as to how he was going to work, but he’d done great.”

While there has been some disappointment in the Nevada desert, Jarrett looks at every situation in a positive light. The money may not be where he wants it heading into the final night of the season, but he’s earned nearly $145,000 doing something he loves in 2017.

“I learn something every time I compete, so I can take that with me,” he said. “You have to learn, or you won’t get any better.”

postheadericon Aus places for the 4th time at NFR

Tanner Aus rides Cervi's William Wallace to finish fourth in Friday's ninth round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Tanner Aus rides Cervi’s William Wallace to finish fourth in Friday’s ninth round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

LAS VEGAS – The rodeo season is like a roller coaster; there are ups and downs, twists and turns that play with emotions and test talent.

The biggest ride in the world wraps up Saturday in the City of Lights. The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is the richest rodeo in the world spread out over 10 December nights, where the highs are the highest and the lows can seemingly drop right out of the sky.

Tanner Aus

Tanner Aus

Bareback rider Tanner Aus has experienced them over the last nine days. He has earned at least a share of go-round victories on two nights, and he’s felt the dangers that come with riding bucking beasts for a living.

One night after having his hand stuck in his rigging after riding Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Dirty Flirt and being slung around the arena for several seconds, he rode Cervi Championship Rodeo’s William Wallace for 86 points to finish fourth in Friday’s ninth round, worth $11,000.

“I drew Hell on Hooves, a great horse of J Bar J’s,” Aus said, explaining that the horse was having trouble in the chute, so he got an opportunity to ride the Cervi horse. “I had the same issue with (Hell on Hooves) in Killdeer (N.D.) this summer. I was having flash backs of that whole situation.

“When they offered me the re-ride, I knew it was a good chance; I went with my gut (instincts), and it paid off for me. It was a great horse.”

Heading into Saturday’s final night of the 2017 season, the Granite Falls, Minn., cowboy has returned to the No. 2 spot in the world standings. He has placed four times and earned more than $76,000 through nine rounds. He has pushed his season earnings to $212,868.

He still has on outside chance to catch the standings leader, Tim O’Connell, but many things would have to occur for that to happen. It is O’Connell’s race to lose, but Aus still has two chances to cash in while in the Nevada desert. The 10th round still has a payout, and he is No. 5 in the NFR average race. If he were to remain in that position, he would add another $23,000 to his season.

“I do have goals for winning a world title,” he said. “Tim is just on fire, and he rides so good and is so confident and so consistent. That just sets the bar higher. I’ve got to focus on the 10th round. It’s all about preparation. It is about forming a game place.

“Hopefully next year, Tim will be chasing me instead of me chasing him.”

postheadericon Round 9 results from the NFR

Bareback riding: 1. Jake Brown, 87.5 points on Beutler & Son Rodeo Nutrena’s Molly Brown, $26,231; 2. Steven Dent, 87, $20,731; 3. Caleb Bennett, 86.5, $15,654; 4. Tanner Aus, $11,000; 5. (tie) Tim O’Connell and JR Vezain, 85, $5,500 each.

Jake Brown

Jake Brown

Steer wrestling: 1. Scott Guenthner, 3.3 seconds, $26,231; 2. Dakota Eldridge, 3.5, $20,731; 3. Tyler Waguespack, 3.6, $15,654; 4. (tie) Chason Floyd, Olin Hannum and J.D. Struxness, 3.7, $7,333 each.

Team roping: 1. Kaleb Drigger/Junior Nogueira, 3.3 seconds, $26,231; 2. Clay Smith/Paul Eaves, 3.7, $20,731; 3. Coleman Proctor/Billie Jack Saebens, 3.9, $15,654; 4. Riley Minor/Brady Minor, 4.0, $11,000; 5. Tom Richards/Jeremy Buhler, 4.1, $6,769; 6. Dustin Egusquiza/Kory Koontz, 4.3, $4,231.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Ryder Wright, 87 points on Korkow Rodeos Kitty Whistle, $26,231; 2. Sterling Crawley, 86.5, $20,731; 3. (tie) Hardy Braden and Brody Cress, 85.5, $13,327 each; 5. (tie) Jake Wright and Audy Reed, 80.5, $5,500 each.

Tie-down roping: 1.Shane Hanchey, 6.8 seconds, $26,231; 2. Matt Shiozawa, 7.0, $20,731; 3. Marty Yates, 7.3, $15,654; 4. (tie) Cooper Martin and Cory Solomon, 7.4, $8,885 each; 6. Ryan Jarrett, 7.9, $4,231.

 Barrel racing: 1. Hailey Kinsel, 13.34 seconds, $26,231; 2. Nellie Miller, 13.52, $20,731; 3. Kassie Mowry, 13.66, $15,654; 4. Taci Bettis, 13.7, $11,000; 5. Tillar Murray, 13.85, $6,769; 6. Ivy Conrado, 13.87, $4,231.

Bull riding: 1. Trey Benton, on Rafter H Rodeo’s Nose Bender, and Boudreaux Campbell, on Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Reveloution, 88 points, $42,308 each; no other qualified rides.

postheadericon O’Connell ever so close to gold

Tim O'Connell spurs Korkow Rodeo's Feather Fluffer for 85 points to place fifth in Friday's ninth round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. O'Connell is closing in on his second straight world championship. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Tim O’Connell spurs Korkow Rodeo’s Feather Fluffer for 85 points to place fifth in Friday’s ninth round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. O’Connell is closing in on his second straight world championship. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

LAS VEGAS – Tim O’Connell’s second world championship is so close he can taste it.

He almost clinched the Montana Silversmith’s gold buckle on Friday night with an 85-point ride on Korkow Rodeo’s Feather Fluffer. He finished in a tie for fifth place in the ninth round, worth $5,500. He owns a lead of more than $91,000 over the No. 2 man, Tanner Aus, but Aus still has a mathematical chance to catch the reigning champ.

Tim O'Connell

Tim O’Connell

“It’s been an amazing finals,” said O’Connell, who battled through sickness earlier in the week to remain atop the world standings and the aggregate race. “I feel like I’ve drawn really well. I feel like I’ve taken advantage of the times I’ve had great horses. They definitely wanted me to work for it in the ‘eliminator’ pens; I had the 2017 horse of the year and the 2016 horse of the year.

“They put the giants in front of me, and I had to fist fight for it.”

He’s also been in a battle with the 14 other bareback riders, who placed a target on his back and gunned for it. That’s why Aus still has a shot to take him down. With one night remaining in the 2017 season, O’Connell know what he needs to do to walk away with gold buckle No. 2. He will be matched with Wayne Vold Rodeo’s Mucho Dinero.

It should be another rank night of bareback riding in Las Vegas.

“There are all those social media people that we don’t have the rankest horses here,” O’Connell said. “Times change, and I really do believe that we did pick the best 105 horses on the planet to come here. The generation, the breeding, the stock contractors … my hat is off to them.

“There is no rodeo in the world that it takes this high of a score to place every night. The guys and the quality of horses is coming together. It’s all matching up.”

He owns a seven-point lead in the average over Richmond Champion heading into the final night of the season.

“Last year I’m pretty sure I was winning the average at this point by 20-some points,” O’Connell said. “I’m pretty sure I’m on pace to break what my average was last year. Other than money, I think I’ve had a better finals than I did last year, because everybody is pushing each other.”

Make no doubt about it, the reigning world champion is pushing himself. That’s what winners do.

postheadericon Proctor finds bright spot Friday

Coleman Proctor, right, turns the steer for his heeler, Billie Jack Saebens, during their 3.9-second run during Friday's ninth-round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Coleman Proctor, right, turns the steer for his heeler, Billie Jack Saebens, during their 3.9-second run during Friday’s ninth-round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

LAS VEGAS – Much like this city itself, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is filled with exciting expectations, huge victories and days of frustration.

In his four years at ProRodeo’s grand finale, Coleman Proctor has felt them all. Heading into the ninth night of this year’s championship, he and his heeler, Billie Jack Saebens, had found the pay window just one time, a tie for third place in Monday’s fifth round.

Coleman Proctor

Coleman Proctor

After three more nights of finishing out of the money, the two Oklahomans headed to Top Golf just two miles west of the Thomas & Mack Center. They let out a little bit of frustration and enjoyed a little team bonding.

“We kind of loosened up a little and hit some golf balls,” said Proctor, who, with Saebens, stopped the clock Friday in 3.9 seconds to finish third in a fast ninth go-round, worth $15,654. “Whenever they would replay that run we had (Thursday), we tried to hit it on the screen.”

He was joking, of course, because he understands what it means to be one of the top 15 teams competing at the biggest rodeo in the world. He and Saebens haven’t had the greatest luck, but they have earned $38,981 in nine nights.

More importantly, they have toped eight steers in a cumulative time of 56.8 seconds and sit fourth in all-important average race. Should they remain in that position at the NFR’s conclusion tomorrow night, they will add $31,731. If they move up one spot to third, the bonus would be $43,154.

“It has been a great week,” said Proctor, who scored his first sub-4-second run at the NFR in his four trips. “I think what’s different this year is that we’ve been here before, and we have felt comfortable all week. We were roping good; we were just catching a few bad breaks here and there. Now it’s sifting its way back. Maybe we will win some big money tomorrow night and go home.”

There is some unfinished business. On a night when gold buckles will be presented to the world champions, Proctor and Saebens will work to find their way to a top spot in the round. Every dollar counts – in life and in the world standings.

“We are trying our best,” he said. “Billie gives it his all, and I give it my all. That is just how it shakes out sometimes in team roping. We have a great friendship. It’s a business, but he is one of my better friends. I always want to be there to pick him up, and he is always there to pick me up. That’s what allows us to bounce back like we do.”

They need to do that again Saturday, but no matter what, he has plenty of memories to take back to Pryor, Okla., and pass along to his family.

“The National Finals is awesome,” Proctor said. “There is not another experience like this. I’ve been to all the best rodeos in the world, and this is obviously the greatest one you will ever go to. We are having fun and enjoying every minute of it.”

postheadericon Struxness finds another NFR payday

J.D. Struxness turns his steer during his 3.7-second run to finish in a three-way tie for fourth in Friday's ninth round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

J.D. Struxness turns his steer during his 3.7-second run to finish in a three-way tie for fourth in Friday’s ninth round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

LAS VEGAS – J.D. Struxness is doing everything he can to make it work at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

On Friday night, he mounted his third horse in the last week and made it work with a 3.7-second round to finish tied for fourth in the ninth go-round. He pocketed $7,333 for the run and increased his Sin City earnings to $62,095.

But it was the first time he has placed since the fifth night of the championship.

J.D. Struxness

J.D. Struxness

“The last couple of rounds, we just had steers that I wasn’t meant to place on,” said Struxness of Appleton, Minn. “We haven’t been getting the start, so we made another horse change.”

That horse is Rusty, is owned by Dakota Eldridge, who won Round 7 with a 3.3-second run.

“We finally hit the start and made a good run, and we are back at the pay window,” Struxness said. “This is a good pen of cattle, so a fast round like that was fun. It is always fun to have a fast round like that and be able to be part of it.”

The top three times were 3.3 seconds, 3.5 and 3.6. Struxnesses was tied with Chason Floyd and Olin Hannum for the bottom three spots. It was fast and furious and probably the best round of this year’s NFR.

“Vegas is always a good time,” Struxness said. “The stuff we got going on with the horses is just something we have to deal with. We still have to come out here and bulldog and make the best runs we can.”

His good horse, Peso, became sick earlier this week. He switched to Todd Suhn’s horse, Max for a bit before leaning on Rusty. As of Friday, Peso remains ill.

“He’s done for the week and is ready for the road home,” said Struxness, who sits fifth in the average. “Tomorrow it would be great to come with a good steer. On Rusty, I know I’m going to get the start and have a good go. I want to make a good run, get some money in the round and then hang on to a spot in the average.”

Fifth in the average would pay an addition $22,846 and would help make his trip to the City of Lights that much better.

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