Author Archive

postheadericon Irwin ties for 2nd in Round 7

LAS VEGAS – Kyle Irwin and Tyler Pearson have done a lot of things together.

The two steer wrestlers travel together through the regular season, work together and co-own Scooter, the 2017 Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year. This year they qualified for the National Finals Rodeo together for the first time.

And on Wednesday night, they shared second place during the seventh go-round of this year’s championship, downing their steers in 3.6 seconds and pocketing $18,192 each.

“That was a good pen of steers, and the right guys had the right steers,” said Irwin, now in his third appearance at ProRodeo’s grand finale. “I think everybody showed out tonight. It goes back to what I say about this, and it’s the best guys in the world. I think tonight proved that.”

It was the third time in seven days that Irwin has earned cash in Sin City. He finished in a tie for third place in Round 2, then followed that the next night with the round victory. After three nights of not placing, Irwin found some relief in the words of a friend, Luke Branquinho, a five-time world champion.

“I saw Luke today, and he said I was overthinking it,” Irwin said. “He could read it all over my face. I knew it, too. He said, ‘Slow down and do your job,’ and that’s what we did tonight. We have three more chances to do our job, and I’m excited about it.”

It helped, too, that he had a solid steer. The previous bulldoggers had finished their runs in 4.3 seconds and 3.8 seconds, so the Robertsdale, Ala., cowboy knew he had a great opportunity. He rode Scooter through the run, exited as necessary and thought he had a chance to break the arena record – the existing mark is 3.0 seconds set by Steve Duhon in 1986 and Bryan Fields in 2001.

“What let me have hope in being fast is I knew he was going to stop, but I knew he was very friendly after,” Irwin said. “I think he was just behind me enough that if he jumps to the right there, it could be dirty fast.

“It’s fun, and when you get your feet on the ground fast in this building, it’s really fun. I’m grateful for tonight.”

He has earned $67,750 in seven nights of this year’s finale. He has earned $147,434, which is good enough for fifth place in the world standings. He also sits third in the average race with a cumulative time of 32.5 seconds on seven runs. Should he remain in that position at the conclusion of the NFR on Saturday night, he would add $43,154 to his take.

He owes a good portion of that to Scooter. In addition to Irwin and Pearson, Irwin has been the driving force for standings leader Ty Erickson and the No. 3 man, Tyler Waguespack. All four men, combined with others, have all worked to take care of the 12-year-old sorrel gelding through this rugged 10 days in the Nevada desert.

“He feels outstanding, and he worked great again,” Irwin said. “Wag was the fourth guy on him tonight, and he still placed. Scooter feels great and he’s working great. As long as we do our job the horse is going to do his.”

postheadericon Zach gets the Call to BFO finale

Zach Call jumps his bull en route to a 79-point fight Wednesday during the first Preliminary Round of the Bullfighters Only Las Vegas Championship. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Zach Call jumps his bull en route to a 79-point fight Wednesday during the first Preliminary Round of the Bullfighters Only Las Vegas Championship. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Nebraska bullfighter punches his ticket to short round of Las Vegas Championship

LAS VEGAS – A year ago, Zach Call had to battle through the Wild Card in order to advance to the Las Vegas Championship’s final round.

He managed to avoid it this year, posting a solid 79-point fight to win his section Wednesday afternoon during the first of two Preliminary Rounds of the Bullfighters Only Las Vegas Championship at the Tropicana Casino and Resort.

“I had a solid little bull from Brett Hall’s string, and he gave me an honest shot to win it,” said Call, who will be joined on Championship Saturday by the other two winners from Wednesday, Jimmy Essary and Cody Emerson.

Now the three bullfighters will await Thursday’s second Preliminary Round and Friday’s Wild Card to see who else will make it to the final day of the 2017 season.

“I think having a little bit of a break from it is going to be the key to being healthy for the short round,” said Call of Mullen, Neb. “I’m a little sore, but not bad.”

Call had the best bullfight in his three-man bout, but he still was a bit overwhelmed by his bull, which hooked him and pushed him into the panels. Call rebounded and was able to finish his bout well.

“I think there were a couple of mistakes I had that hurt my score,” he said. “I thought when I threw that fake that I should have had him make a round with me. Getting hooked confirmed that.”

He hopes to clean up those mistakes by the time the final round arrives at 2 p.m. Saturday.

“It’s just about having a confident mind when you walk into the arena,” Call said. “That’s so important, especially when you’re talking about these bulls we have here.”

When he wasn’t in the arena, Call watched many of the top young bullfighters in the game as they battled through last week’s qualifiers. The entire five days of BFO action has been world class.

“We’ve sold out the crowd almost every day, and the location at the Tropicana and being on the strip is awesome,” he said. “There have been some handy kids, and you can see the ones that are ready to be at this level. The bulls we’re running at this event are a little stronger than what we’re used to, but this is the next level.

“The guys that get up after taking a hooking will eventually figure it out, because they want to be out there.”

Advancing to Las Vegas Championship Finals
Zach Call, 79; Jimmy Essary, 85; and Cody Emerson, 81.5

postheadericon Round 7 results

Bareback riding: 1. Tanner Aus, 87 points on Three Hills Rodeo Jr Bonner, $26,231; 2. (tie) Tim O’Connell and Clayton Biglow, 85.5, $18,192 each; 4. (tie) Jake Vold, Bill Tutor and Mason Clements, 83.5, $7,333 each.

Steer wrestling: 1. Dakota Eldridge, 3.3 seconds, $26,231; 2. (tie) Kyle Irwin and Tyler Pearson, 3.6, $18,192 each; 4. Rowdy Parrott, 3.8, $11,000; 5. Olin Hannum, 3.9, $6,769; 6. Tyler Waguespack, 4.0, $4,231.

Tanner Aus

Tanner Aus

Team roping: 1. Dustin Egusquiza/Kory Koontz, 3.5 seconds, $26,231; 2. Riley Minor/Brady Minor, 3.8, $20,731; 3. Charly Crawford/Joseph Harrison, 4.4, $15,654; 4. (tie) Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueria and Luke Brown/Jake Long, 4.7, $8,885 each; 6. Jr. Dees/Tyler McKnight, 5.0, $4,231.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Hardy Braden, 88 points on Hi Lo ProRodeos Garden City Gal, $26,231; 2. Ryder Wright, 86.5, $20,731; 3. CoBurn Bradshaw, 85.5, $15,654; 4. Layton Green, 83, $11,000; 5. Jacobs Crawley, 81, $6,769; 6. (tie) Cody DeMoss and Brody Cress, 80, $2,115 each.

Tie-down roping: 1. Randall Carlisle, 7.5 seconds, $26,231; 2. Tuf Cooper, 8.0, $20,731; 3. Marcos Costa, 8.3, $15,654; 4. Cage Swor, 9.6, $11,000; 5. J.C. Malone, 9.7, $6,769; 6. Timber Moore, 11.3, $4,231.

Barrel racing: 1. Tillar Murray, 13.4 seconds, $26,231; 2. Nellie Miller, 13.52, $20,731; 3. Sydni Blanchard, 13.62, $15,654; 4. Lisa Lockhart, 13.63, $11,000; 5. Kassie Mowry, 13.68, $6,769; 6. Tiany Schuster, 13.7, $4,231.

Bull riding: 1. Joe Frost, 87 points, $26,231; 2. Ty Wallace, 86.5, $20,731; 3. Roscoe Jarboe, 84, $15,654; 4. (tie) Jordan Hansen and Guthrie Murray, 83, $8,885 each; 6. Jordan Spears, 82.5, $4,231.

postheadericon Braden earns another round win

Hardy Braden rides Hi-Lo Pro Rodeo's Garden City Gal for 88 points to win Wednesday's seventh round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Hardy Braden rides Hi-Lo Pro Rodeo’s Garden City Gal for 88 points to win Wednesday’s seventh round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

LAS VEGAS – Hi-Lo Pro Rodeo’s Garden City Gal was raised in western Kansas, just like the town for which she’s named.

Saddle bronc rider Hardy Braden didn’t know that much about the gray mare, but he made it work to the tune 88 points to win Wednesday’s seventh round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He added $26,231 to push his NFR earnings to $83,404.

Hardy Braden

Hardy Braden

“I called a few guys that had been on her that had some zeroes beside their name,” said Braden, who moved to No. 6 in the world standings with $171,009. “They said that she feels good, but she really wants you over her head the way she hits the ground, sucks back and has some moves to her.

“But they said I should be just fine on her.”

They were right, and it guided the Welch, Okla., cowboy to his second go-round victory of this year’s NFR – he also won the first round. There are many veterans that have never earned a round title; Sterling Crawley, a four-time NFR qualifier from Stephenville, Texas, earned his first this past Monday.

“Sterling named off how many rounds it had been (34 rounds without a win), and it was crazy,” Braden said. “It’s an exciting feeling to win two your first time out.”

The 2017 season has been, by far, Braden’s best in his eight years in ProRodeo. In fact, his previous best season was 2016, when he pocketed $34,511.

“And I was ecstatic about that,” he said with a laugh.

Braden has laughed a lot this week. He has reason to do so. It would be hard to suppress the giddiness of earning more than $80,000 in seven days of work.

“This whole year has been the most fun I’ve ever had,” Braden said. “The NFR is just to top it off, a celebration. It’s been incredible this year.

“I never dreamed, in my wildest dreams, that it would go this good.”

postheadericon Aus earns his 2nd round win

Tanner Aus rides Three Hill Rodeo's Jr. Bonner for 87 points Wednesday to win the seventh round at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. It was his second round title in seven days. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Tanner Aus rides Three Hill Rodeo’s Jr. Bonner for 87 points Wednesday to win the seventh round at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. It was his second round title in seven days. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

LAS VEGAS – Tanner Aus has placed in just three go-rounds, but he earned at least a share of two victories.

He added his second Wednesday night during the seventh round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, earning $26,231 in the process. He’s ridden well, but missing out on four round checks is a testament to the bareback riding inside the Thomas & Mack Center.

Tanner Aus

Tanner Aus

“The competition is just so tough,” said Aus, 27, of Granite Falls, Minn. “I had to wait out a re-ride with Orin (Larsen), and he’s been riding outstanding, so you never know if he’s going to get past you.”

Aus matched moves with Three Hills Rodeo’s Jr. Bonner for 87 points to claim the round title. He knew he had a great opportunity when he saw the posted random draw Wednesday evening.

“I’ve been on that horse before, so I’ve been looking forward to it,” he said. “He had a great trip today. He just angled across there to the end. He felt good. He got a little wolfy there at the end.”

Wolfy or not, it paid off. Aus has earned more than $65,000 over seven nights of competition. After falling a bit in the standings, he returned to the No. 2 spot behind Iowan Tim O’Connell. He is about $87,000 behind the reigning world champion, but more big paychecks can make up most of that ground in a hurry.

“Getting this second round win is a dream come true, and we get to go back to the South Point,” he said of the Montana Silversmiths Go-Round Buckle Presentation, where the round winners earn their prizes. “To be able to stand out one night or even two nights in this field of competition is just an outstanding feeling.

“I’m very thankful.”

He should be, but he also took advantage of the opportunity provided him. That’s what made the most difference.

postheadericon Jarrett ropes to another NFR check

LAS VEGAS – Slowly but surely, Ryan Jarrett is making his way up the chart at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

After opening ProRodeo’s grand finale with the first-round victory, Jarrett went into a bit of a skid. He didn’t return to the top of the charts until the fifth night, when he finished sixth. He did it again during Round 6, when he tied his calf in 8.0 seconds to collect another $4,231.

Ryan Jarrett

Ryan Jarrett

“This is a tough place to rope sometimes,” said Jarrett, an 11-time NFR qualifier from Comanche, Okla. “Hopefully we can make some good runs and make the last four rounds really satisfying.”

Through six nights in the City of Lights, Jarrett has accumulated $44,692. He has pushed his season earnings to $140,748 and sits ninth in the world standings.

“There was sure room for improvement in that run,” he said. “I messed up my tie a little bit, but all we can do is move forward. I just hope we draw well and make another good run.”

The competition at the NFR is fierce. Marty Yates of Stephenville, Texas, posted the fastest run of this year’s NFR with a 6.9-second run Tuesday night. It takes fast times and virtually flawless runs to make everything work inside the Thomas and Mack Center, the championship’s home since 1985.

He’s had a little help while in Las Vegas. His father, DeJuan, has been in town since the beginning and has cared for Jarrett’s horse, Snoopy. Jarrett’s wife, Shy-Anne, has tried to bring some normalcy to his life while living in Sin City for two weeks.

Now he hopes to make the steps he needs to better his performance.

“I’m not roping up to my expectations,” he said, noting that he has taken some time to get a little practice. “I rode my horse and made sure things felt good. There’s nothing in particular that I’ve been working on; I just tried to make it feel a little more fluid.”

His first chance to test it again is Wednesday night during the seventh round.

postheadericon Larsen has a good feel for NFR

Orin Larsen straps his rigging to J Bar J's Beyond Bugs as he prepares to ride Tuesday night during the sixth round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He has earned almost $72,000 in six nights. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Orin Larsen straps his rigging to J Bar J’s Beyond Bugs as he prepares to ride Tuesday night during the sixth round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He has earned almost $72,000 in six nights. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

LAS VEGAS – There’s a certain feel that comes to riding a bucking horse that few people will ever realize.

Orin Larsen knows that feeling. He knows what it means to strap his rigging to a horse’s back, then tangle with the beast for a long 8 seconds. On Tuesday night during the sixth go-round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the Inglis, Manitoba, cowboy fought his way to another paycheck with an 85.5-point ride on J Bar J’s Beyond Bugs.

“Everyone doesn’t just come to the finals for the money, but it’s also because it’s our Super Bowl,” said Larsen, who lives much of the year in Gering, Neb. “To have the money available to us, that makes or breaks a lot of our years.”

Orin Larsen

Orin Larsen

He has been making money. Tuesday’s ride was worth $15,654 and pushed his NFR take to nearly $72,000. He has moved up to fifth in the world standings with $171,009.

“You have always dreamed of having a good finals,” said Larsen, who won intercollegiate championships at both the College of Southern Idaho and Oklahoma Panhandle State University. “it might have taken me three years to get there, but it’s everything I’ve wished for and worked for.

“It is a pretty awesome feeling to be one of those people to say that you had a good finals.”

In his first venture to Sin City in 2015, he placed in just three rounds and earned just $23,000. While that seems like a pretty good 10 days, go-round winners pocket more than $26,000. A year ago, he suffered a rib injury early and spent the first five rounds learning to ride through the pain. Once he figured it out, he reached the pay window each of the final five nights.

“I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing: One a ta time,” he said. “It is an awesome feeling to be on a hot streak. We all go through spells every now and then, whether you’re riding good or not. When you’re hot, you’re not, and when you’re not, you’re not. But when you are hot, you can spur Godzilla, and it is pretty.”

He doesn’t have to try to ride the fictional monster, but he does face the rankest bucking horses every night. Only the top animals are selected to perform at the NFR, and Larsen has proven he likes them.

Now he has four more nights to make it count.

postheadericon Champion enjoying NFR run

Richmond Champion is thoroughly enjoying his 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo campaign. He has earned nearly $78,000 in six nights. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Richmond Champion is thoroughly enjoying his 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo campaign. He has earned nearly $78,000 in six nights. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

LAS VEGAS – Nobody can wipe the smile off Richmond Champion’s face.

With just four more nights of the 2017 ProRodeo season on the horizon, the bareback rider from The Woodlands, Texas, doesn’t want it to end. Why should he?

Through six rounds of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Champion has placed five times and pocketed $77,622. He has earned more money than any other bareback rider competing in the City of Lights this week, and he has four more nights to cash in.

Richmond Champion

Richmond Champion

“It has never been like this; it is so much fun,” said Champion, a three-time NFR qualifier who lives primarily in Stephenville, Texas, home of his alma mater, Tarleton State University.
“I’m not even thinking about the money. Every day is a new day, and literally every day is the biggest day of my life.

“I’m pretty sure my heart is going to bust one of these days. I’m loving every second of it.”

On Tuesday night, he rode Calgary Stampede’s You See Me for 84 points to finish in a tie for fifth place in the sixth go-round. That was worth $5,500 and pushed his season earnings to $178,212. He is second in the world standings.

Although he trails the world standings leader, reigning world champion Tim O’Connell, by just less than $93,000, he still has room to climb the charts and make a push for that prestigious gold buckle. Go-round winners earn more than $26,000 a day, and there are four more chances to get that money.

“I’m having fun, but this is also the most wound-up I’ve been in my own brain,” Champion said. “I feel like I’m the only one here sometimes. It happens 30 or 40 times a day before I get on. It’s something I’m not used to, but at the same time, when I get in the chute and get on that horse, it is a consistent thing – the bucking chute, the rigging and the horse.

“That’s what I have been relying on. You can feel however you want, but when you get on there, you don’t need to think about it, because you know how to do it.”

He has shown how well he does it. During his ride on You Can See Me, he was able to maintain control over the strong bucking horse. It was the second time this season the two have been matched together.

“He’s still young and trying to figure his tracks out, and I thought he was really good tonight,” he said. “I knew he wasn’t going to shine quite as well as a couple of the other horses, but I knew he was solid. You take every opportunity you can get, and I knew my job was to dominate.”

He’s been doing a pretty good job of that, and Las Vegas is the place to do it. Just like those at the blackjack and roulette tables, the NFR is where the money is great and the championship is lined with gold.

“If we could do this for 20 nights, I’d be stoked,” Champion said. “You don’t’ want to wish this away. It’s a dream come true, and there are so many things you can absorb and learn from here.”

postheadericon Aus finds way back to pay window

Tanner Aus watches the replay of the action during Tuesday's sixth round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He has placed in two go-rounds so far. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Tanner Aus watches the replay of the action during Tuesday’s sixth round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He has placed in two go-rounds so far. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

LAS VEGAS – Tanner Aus understands the ups and downs that come with rodeo.

In his inaugural Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in 2015, he placed in just three rounds, including the, a share of the 10th-round victory, and earned $74,000. Last year, he earned $100,000 and left Sin City No. 5 in the world standings.

Tanner Aus

Tanner Aus

This year, has been more downs than ups. He shared the second-round victory but didn’t place any other time until Tuesday’s sixth go-round. He matched moves with Calgary Stampede’s Tootsie Roll for 84 points to finish in a tie for fifth place, worth $5,500. He has earned $38,981 through the first six nights of ProRodeo’s championship.

“I’ve felt good,” he said. “I stumbled the first round a little bit; I think I could have ridden that horse better. Last night and tonight looked good, and I felt strong, and there are only four rounds left.

“I can only do what I can do, and I knew that coming in here. I drew outstanding last year, and I was really thankful for that. This year has been a little up and down.”

He’s ridden well – he was 86 points in the fifth round, for example; while that would have placed third on Tuesday, it wasn’t worth a paycheck Monday. The bareback riding has been a true showcase of amazing athletes, both equine and human.

“It has been incredible, and it has been awesome to watch,” said Aus, 27, of Granite Falls, Minn. “That is what I thrive off of, what makes me love it. The fact that I get to stand on the back of the bucking chutes and watch it is pretty incredible.”

The bareback riders all agree that this has been one of the best competitions they’ve seen in the game in years. What’s even greater is that they have been a support system together. It makes for a great team atmosphere, despite the competition.

“Everybody is there for one another,” he said. “That’s what makes it cool.

“It is incredible. Everyone is feeling good, for the most part, after six rounds, and that is a testament to the preparation we all have put in. We are fortunate right now. Bring on the next four rounds.”

postheadericon NFR results from Round 6

Bareback riding: 1. (tie) Clayton Biglow on Frontier Rodeo Night Fist and J.R. Vezain on Pickett Pro Rodeo Scarlet Belle, 88 points, $23,481 each; 3. Orin Larsen, 85.5, $15,654; 4. Jake Vold, 85, $11,000; 5. (tie) Tanner Aus and Richmond Champion, 84, $5,500 each.

Steer wrestling: 1. Baylor Roche, 3.6 seconds, $26,231; 2. Ty Erickson, 3.8, $20,731; 3. (tie) Tyler Waguespack, Dakota Eldridge and Nick Guy, 3.9, $11,141 each; 6. Tanner Milan, 4.0, $4,231.

Trey Benton III

Trey Benton III

Team roping: 1. (tie) Riley Minor/Brady Minor and Cody Snow/Wesley Thorp, 3.7 seconds, $23,481 each; 3. Clay Tryan/Jade Corkill, 3.8, $15,654; 4. Jr. Dees/Tyler McKnight, 3.9, $11,000; 5. (tie) Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira, Erich Rogers/Cory Petska and Garrett Rogers/Jake Minor, 4.1, $3,667.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Ryder Wright, 89 points on Cervi Brothers Rodeo 2 Cookies, $26,231; 2. Brody Cress, 88.5, $20,731; 3. Jesse Wright, 86, $15,654; 4. (tie) Sterling Crawley and Layton Green, 85.5, $8,885 each; 6. Heith DeMoss, 84.5, $4,231.

Tie-down roping: 1. Marty Yates, 6.9 seconds, $26,231; 2. (tie) Caleb Smith and Marcos Costa, 7.4, $18,192 each; 4.Cade Swor, 7.7, $11,000; 5. Timber Moore, 7.9, $6,769; 6. Ryan Jarrett, 8.0, $4,231.

Barrel racing: 1. Hailey Kinsel, 13.49 seconds, $26,231; 2. Tiany Schuster, 13.52, $20,731; 3. Tillar Murray, 13.63, $15,654; 4. Taci Bettis, 13.72, $11,000; 5. (tie) Ivy Conorado, Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi and Stevi Hillman, 13.74, $3,667.

Bull riding: 1. Trey Benton III, 92.5 points on Rocky Mountain Rodeo Bomb Pop, $27,077; 2. Sage Kimzey, 86, $21,577; 3. Jordan Hansen, 84.5, $16,500; 4. Cole Melancon, 83.5, $11,846; 5. Roscoe Jarboe, 71, $7,615.

Our Partners