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postheadericon Tie-down roping results Round 9

Hunter Herrin

Hunter Herrin

1. Hunter Herrin, 6.6 seconds, $26,231; 2. Matt Shiozawa, 7.0, $20,731; 3. Caleb Smidt, 7.3, $15,654; 4. (tie) Trevor Brazile and Monty Lewis, 4.5, $8,885; 6. Cory Solomon, 7.6, $4,231.

postheadericon Bareback and team roping results Round 9

Kaycee Feild

Kaycee Feild

Bareback riding: 1. Kaycee Feild, 82 points on Cervi Championship Rodeo’s Control Freak, $26,231; 2. Seth Hardwick, 81.5, $20,732; 3. (tie) Austin Foss and Jake Brown, 81, $13,327; 5. (tie) Will Lowe and Bobby Mote, 80.5, $5,500

Team roping: 1. Trevor Brazile/Patrick Smith, 4.0 seconds, $26,231; 2. Colby Lovell/Kory Koontz, 4.1, $20,731; 3. Derrick Begay/Clay O’Brien Cooper, 4.2, $15,654; 4. Riley Minor/Brady Minor, 4.3, $11,000; 5. JoJo LeMond/Junior Nogueira, 4.7, $6,769; 6. Luke Brown/Kollin VonAhn, $4,231.

postheadericon Steer wrestling results Round 9

Casey Martin

Casey Martin

1. Casey Martin, 3.5 seconds, $26,231; 2. Trevor Knowles, 3.6, $20,731; 3. Luke Branquinho, 3.8, $15,654; 4. (tie) Hunter Cure and Baylor Roche, 4.2, $8,885 each; 6. (tie) Tanner Milan and Ty Erickson, 4.3, $2,115 each.

postheadericon Martin gift-wraps round win

LAS VEGAS – Reese Martin got the perfect gift for her 10th birthday on Friday night at National Finals Rodeo.

Her daddy, Casey, won the ninth round in steer wrestling, scoring a 3.5-second run to collect $26,231, his biggest NFR go-round check in his five trips to Sin City. Not only is it the idea present for Martin’s oldest child, it was much needed. It was just his fourth payday since the 10-day competition began last week.

Casey Martin

Casey Martin

“I’ve got six kids and a wife at home, and we all have to eat and we have a baby on the way,” Martin said.

He was having just a mediocre NFR before Friday. That changed in a hurry. He now improved his Las Vegas earnings to $56,269 and moved up five spots to eighth in the world standings. His 2015 bank account has reached $131,425.

He and hazer Sean Mulligan had a game plan for the steer once they saw the draw.

“I liked him; they were 4.1 on him earlier in the week,” Martin said. “We had talked about it before. I told ‘Mully’ that the steer wants to keep his head high and to get him shoved to me where I can get his head down and make him wear it. It worked.”

He also got a solid start, riding Ote, which is owned by traveling partner Bray Armes. The key is to be on the barrier that sits at the front of the timed-event box, which is there to allow the steer the appropriate head start. Breaking through that roped barrier costs the contestant a 10-second penalty and takes the cowboy out of the money.

“I missed (in the third round), and I’ve been trying to be on (the barrier) that much every night,” Martin said. “The horse … that’s probably the most important part. These are the best in the world, so we all know how to do our jobs, but the faster you can get your feet on the ground and get everything lined out, that’s the most important part of it.”

It worked out well on Friday. He’d love for it to happen again Saturday during the final night of the ProRodeo season.

It would add a fine bow to Reese’s present.

postheadericon Strong mental game helps Ratliff

LAS VEGAS – The National Finals Rodeo is a true test of a cowboy’s grit, determination and ability to overcome challenges over ProRodeo’s 10-day championship.

Bareback rider Winn Ratliff knows that as well as anyone. He’s placed in just two of eight go-rounds and has seen his share of struggles – he had a no-score in the second round, then posted a 66 in Round 5 and a 59 on the seventh night.

Winn Ratliff

Winn Ratliff

“I’d lie to you if I said I wasn’t disappointed with 59 points; it ain’t very fun being 59,” said Ratliff, a three-time NFR qualifier from Leesville, La. “I give myself a five-minute rule: Give yourself five minutes to stew over it or get off by yourself and think about it. When you come back, it’s over with. It’s a new opportunity and a new night.

“That’s what I’ve always tried to do every time. It’s about being mentally tough. Not everybody is going to have a perfect night. As long as I get to put my boots and spurs on and use the talent that God’s given me, I’m happy. There’s no point in being sour about it.”

That mental approach paid off Thursday night with a 74.5-point ride on Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Wonderland to finish fifth in Round 8, earning a check for $6,769. That, combined with his fourth-place finish in the fourth round, has earned the Louisiana cowboy $17,769.

What’s more impressive is that Ratliff’s second paycheck came in the “eliminator” pen, the toughest-to-ride bareback horses in the game.

“As an NFR qualifier, that’s why it’s the E pen,” he said, noting that most of the scores were below 80 points. “I think it should look something like that. It’s the National Finals Rodeo, and you should have some of those strong buckers in there. There’s going to be scores in the 70s and 60s. That’s just part of having buckers like that.

“That’s just part of rodeo and part of being in the eliminator pen. For one, you can’t always make the perfect ride, but you’ve got to give it your best and try hard. I can say this for everybody else that they tried hard and gave it their best.”

That also is Ratliff’s style. He earned his third trip to Vegas by battling through the season that had its share of hills and valleys. Rodeo can be fickle, because the only way to get a paycheck is to finish better than most of the field. Slumps come and go, so having a strong mental game is vital.

“It’s a blessing to get up every morning and have a new opportunity,” Ratliff said. “You know that you’ve got a new horse and a new night. You’ve just got to come out and do your best every not and not reflect on your attitude. My joy doesn’t come from the arena.

“You’ve got to be mentally tough. If you can’t, you’re in the wrong sport.”

Two nights remain in the 2015 season, so that means he has a couple more chances to cash in.

“I just want to finish strong and ride like I rode all year,” he said. “I showed signs of it (Thursday). I felt like Winn Ratliff. I’m content with that. That’s what I’d be happy with. I’m all about finishing what I started.”

postheadericon Jarrett cashes in on tough calf

LAS VEGAS – None of the tie-down ropers at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo wanted the calf that Ryan Jarrett had drawn in the eighth round.

“She kicked the first time, and that’s the calf that took Shane Hanchey out of the average in the fifth round,” said Jarrett, a nine-time NFR qualifier from Comanche, Okla. “I’d pretty much drawn at the bottom of the herd.”

Ryan Jarrett

Ryan Jarrett

He proved Thursday night that he can handle the challenge, roping and tying the calf in 8.0 seconds to finish fifth in the round to earn $6,769.

“I knew if she didn’t jump at the gate or do something crazy that she’d try to outrun you,” he said. “I didn’t want to reach with my throw, but I wanted to get a little closer and not throw so much rope so I could get her off her feet on ground and use that momentum to flank her. She’s a stout calf.

“It dang sure wasn’t the best check available for the night, but for what I had drawn, I thought I made the situation work OK.”

He did better than OK, becoming the first roper to earn a paycheck on the tough calf. He now has pushed his NFR earnings to nearly $18,000.

Jarrett is 14th in the world standings with $113,736 in earnings this season. Still, he’s just $72,000 behind the leader, four-time and reigning world champion Tuf Cooper. While Jarrett doesn’t have a shot at winning the world championship – the most he could win over the final two nights is $52,462 – he knows there are opportunities to cash in.

“Nobody has just walked away with the money like in the years past,” Jarrett said. “It’s spread out amongst a lot of different people. Usually one or two guys are clicking it all in.”

While his NFR payout hasn’t been just what he’d like, he knows he can’t stray from his game plan. Just like he did on Thursday night, Jarrett will focus on doing the best job he can on the calves he is matched with in Rounds 9 and 10.

“You’ve just got to take advantage of those good calves when they come along,” said Jarrett, the 2005 all-around world champion. “You can definitely get caught up in all that’s going on out here and not take care of business.

“Hopefully I’ll get some good draws these last two rounds and can take advantage of them.”

postheadericon Little check helps Irwin at NFR

LAS VEGAS – The National Finals Rodeo hasn’t gone the way Kyle Irwin had dreamed.

“It’s been a long week,” said Irwin, a 25-year-old steer wrestler from Robertsdale, Ala. “There are a couple things I could’ve done better, but other than that, I just got beat. The draw has taken its toll on me. But I’m a dreamer. I came in here with every intention of winning every round and the average.”

On Thursday night, Irwin reached the pay window for just the third time through eight rounds of ProRodeo’s grand finale. He grappled his steer to the ground in 4.1 seconds to finish in a tie for sixth place with traveling partner Tyler Waguespack; they each pocketed $2,115.

Kyle Irwin

Kyle Irwin

“These little checks still help,” said Irwin, who attended Western Oklahoma College and Northwestern Oklahoma State University on rodeo scholarships. “They ain’t been the prettiest runs, and the draw’s been kind of tough; I’ve felt like I’ve run some hogs this week. But there are a lot of positives that are coming from it.”

So far, Irwin has earned nearly $34,000 in eight days. That’s a significant week in any occupation, much less one that requires athletes to beat most of the field if they expect to earn any money. Irwin placed second in the opening round, then shared third place with two other cowboys last Saturday.

“I have remained confident through it all,” he said. “I felt like I made a good run last night. Every other night, that steer went right, but last night he went left, so that slowed me down a little bit. This is rodeo, and anything can happy; you just keep your confidence. You got here for a reason, so I know I can do it and know I will do it.”

With two nights left in the 2015 rodeo season, the Alabama cowboy knows he still has an opportunity to cash in. He sits seventh in the average race with an eight-run cumulative time of 58.4 seconds. If he maintains that position, he will cash in an extra $11,423 at the conclusion of the NFR.

But with go-rounds paying more than $26,000 per night, he has no plans of playing it safe.

“We create our opportunities, but I’ve felt like I’ve done my job so far,” Irwin said. “If you really pick apart your runs, there are always things you can do better. For me, everybody’s behind me and supports me. Even your worst round at the NFR is a round at the NFR.

“Plus there’s still (more than) $50,000 up for grabs in the rounds, so why not try to go get it.”

In addition to competing with one of his traveling partners, Irwin and Waguespack are utilizing the help of another member of their hauling posse in Tyler Pearson, a steer wrestler from Louisville, Miss., that just missed the NFR this year. Pearson owns the horse, Sketch, that both cowboys are riding and serves as their hazer.

“Really the only thing missing this year is that Tyler isn’t competing,” Irwin said. “I can’t thank that guy enough. I hope he does one day know what it means to me to have him here. That hazing is so crucial at the NFR, and that horsepower is just important in this sport.

“It’s Wags’ first time, and that kids got all the talent in the world. He got a go-round win, and I’m proud to be here with him. It’s fun to be here with your buddies.”

Even through the struggles he has experienced over the past eight days, Irwin continues to see the bright spots along the way. He has family and friends who support him, whether it’s in Las Vegas, Alabama, Oklahoma or anywhere else along the way.

“My sister brought her little baby boy, and he’s 3 months old,” he said. “Seeing him out here and watching him laughing and giggling is priceless. It’s the little things in life. We’re not promised tomorrow. Sure everybody wants to be on top, but the positivity they bring to it helps me realize my blessing.

“I get to rodeo for a living, and I love it.”

postheadericon Scheer excited about Round 8 ride

LAS VEGAS – When his eight-second ride was over Thursday night, saddle bronc Cort Scheer leaped off his horse, Frontier Rodeo’s Griz, and bounded across the arena.

He flashed a brilliant smile for the more than 17,000 inside the Thomas & Mack Center and all those watching the national television broadcast.

Cort Scheer

Cort Scheer

“It’s kind of fun to land on my feet and jog to the gate in a good mood,” said Scheer, who rode Griz for 84.5 points to finish third in the eighth go-round of the National Finals Rodeo. “That meant a whole lot. That’s one of those horses that if you would’ve rodeo bad, you would’ve been depressed the next few rounds.

“I got to actually go at one, and it felt pretty fun.”

Scheer added $15,654 for the ride and pushed his NFR earnings to more than $36,000. He now sits eighth in the world standings with $135,122. What might be more impressive is that he’s done that in just two rounds – he finished second in Wednesday’s sixth round.

“The purse this year is a huge jump from what it has been,” said Scheer, 29, of Elsmere, Neb. “It’s amazing. Every time you nod your head, something’s going to change in the world standings. It keeps everybody going, and it’s exciting.”

The reality is, he has seen his share of struggles so far in the 10-day championship. He’s suffered two no-scores – he was penalized for failing to mark out his horse in the second round and was bucked off in the fifth – and failed to place in the first five rounds.

“The NFR is tough because you’re going the whole time you’re here with autograph signings, spending time with family and friends, dealing with the draw and maybe adjusting your saddle some,” said Scheer, who attended Garden City (Kan.) Community College, Montana State University and Oklahoma Panhandle State University on rodeo scholarships.

“Plus you have the variables that change everything. The hardest thing about Vegas is settling down, having fun and taking care of business.”

He has found the groove to do that, earning paydays in two of the last three rounds. With two nights remaining in ProRodeo’s grand championship, the Nebraska cowboy knows there are opportunities in front of him and a lot of money on the table for him to grab.

“We all love it that way, and we all push each other,” he said. “With the rounds paying the way they do, you’ve got nothing to lose. Everybody’s going for it.

“The NFR is tough. A lot of people don’t understand what goes it to it, and there are so variables that get in the way. When they get you down, they just jump on you. It’s like getting down at the (gaming) tables; they’ll just keep taking your money. You ride for the good days and forget about the bad ones.”

There have been more good days than bad for Scheer, and he realizes that.

“I love hanging out in the locker room with all my buddies,” Scheer said. “We’re a tight group. We’re always helping each other. I live for that locker room. That’s the cool part about it.”

So is his smile.

postheadericon Predictions through Round 8

Steven Peebles is making a serious run at his first world championship and is trying to knock off four-time reigning titlist Kaycee Feild in bareback riding.

Steven Peebles

Steven Peebles

With two rounds remaining at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Peebles earned his fourth go-round buckle Thursday night with an 89.5-point ride. What makes it more impressive is that it happened in the “eliminator” pen of bucking horses, matching moves with past Bareback Horse of the Year Full Baggage of Frontier Rodeo. The second-place ride in the round was Seth Hardwick’s 80.5 Powder River Rodeo’s Craig at Midnight.

Peebles owns a 37-point lead over Feild in the average. Feild, who has won the last four NFR average titles, sits third after his 67-point ride in the eighth go-round. Hardwick is second in the aggregate, but he’s well behind Peebles.

As of Thursday night, Peebles trails Feild by less than $10,000. The difference from first to third in the average is $24,115. With go-round winners earning $26,231 a night, there is room for Feild to make a move toward his fifth straight gold buckle.

But if things continue in this fashion, Peebles will outlast Feild for the 2015 title.

Dakota Eldridge

Dakota Eldridge

As always, the steer wrestling race will come down to the final night. Clayton Hass leads the standings, but he’s out of the average race. Dakota Eldridge is in solid position to move up; he trails Hass by $40,000 but sits first in the average. It’s the Nevada cowboy’s title to lose.

The team roping championships are going to be hard to decide. It’s such a tight race that there are no projections. Derrick Begay and Clay O’Brien Cooper lead their respective disciplines, but they’re 10th in the average. JoJo LeMond, who was an injury replacement for Jake Barnes, leads the average with Junior Nogueira. It’s going to be a fun race to watch.

Rusty Wright

Rusty Wright

Saddle bronc rider Rusty Wright moved into the lead with his third round win on the ninth night, but Jacobs Crawley owns the average as one of just three men to ride all eight horses. He also is third in the world standings and is just $6,500 behind Wright. It’s going to be tight, but the pick at this stage is Crawley.

Trevor Brazile

Trevor Brazile

Trevor Brazile wants to clinch his 24th world title and his third Triple Crown. He won his first in 2007, the same year his son, Treston, was born. He did it again in 2010, the year his daughter, Style, was born. Now he’s in line for another the same year Swayzi was born. I expect him to do it.

Callie duPerier

Callie duPerier

Callie DuPerier has quietly earned nearly $60,000 and owns the lead in the average, but Sarah Rose McDonald has made a big move over the first eight rounds. McDonald leads the standings but is third in the average. Lisa Lockhart, who is No. 2 in the world standings, jumped out of an average title contention with her second downed barrel. She will need some miraculous things to happen to claim the gold buckle. McDonald, who has earned more than $102,500 at the NFR, stands in the best place to claim the gold buckle.

Sage Kimzey

Sage Kimzey

Cody Teel, who won the 2012 gold buckle, is itching to get No. 2. He leads the average with 574 points on seven qualified rides. Reigning world champion Sage Kimzey still owns $33,648 lead over Teel in the world standings and sits second in the average. While Teel is the only man to cover seven bulls, Kimzey has ridden five. Look for Kimzey to remain the champ.

postheadericon Rank horse leads Aus to payday

LAS VEGAS – Some guys just like riding tough horses.

Tanner Aus is one of them. He got his second chance at the “eliminator” pen of bareback horses on Thursday night’s Round 8 of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, and it paid off. Aus matched moves with Harry Vold Rodeo’s Joke for 77.5 points to finish third in the round, worth $15,654.

Tanner Aus

Tanner Aus

“I’ve been looking forward to the E pen at the finals forever,” said Aus, a first-time NFR qualifier from Granite Falls, Minn. “I felt like I could ride rank horses well. The first time around, I didn’t do, at all, what I wanted to, so I was really looking forward to tonight.”

The second-generation bareback rider scored just 69 points on Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Empty Pockets during his first run-in with the eliminator pen on Saturday night.

“I spurred over the (horse’s) neck on one jump, and that made it for 77 points,” he said. “But I felt a lot better about my performance tonight than I did in the third round.”

The ride marked the second time during the 10-day championship that the 25-year-old Minnesotan has placed. He has earned more than $36,000 in eight days, so it’s not been too bad. But missing out on opportunities six other nights has left a bitter taste in his mouth. He got a little boost from an aunt that helped remind Aus about his amazing season.

“Yesterday I walked out of the arena kind of frowning,” said Aus, who sits 10th in the world standings with $132,045, “and she reminded me, ‘Remember where you’re at and there’s a lot of people watching that wish they could be there. Be sure you smile and remember what you’re doing here.’

“It helped to realize that.”

With just two nights left in the 2015 ProRodeo season, he knows there are opportunities for him to cash in. He sits sixth in the average race with an eight-ride cumulative score of 605 points. If he remains in that position, he could pocket an addition $16,500 when the Thomas & Mack Center closes down Saturday.

“Being focused is what it takes,” Aus said. “I think I’ve been taking myself way too seriously. I’m trying to enjoy the parts in between the rodeo, because I know it’s a privilege to be here.”

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