1. Dean Gorsuch, 3.1 seconds, $18,630; 2. Bray Armes, 3.5, $14,724; 3. K.C. Jones, 3.6, $11,118; 4. Matt Reeves, 3.8, $7,813; 5. Jule Hazen, 4.0, $4,808; 6. Jason Miller, 4.1, $3,005.
LAS VEGAS – Very quietly, tie-down roper Ryan Jarrett has made a significant run at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Over the first three nights of competition, the Comanche, Okla., cowboy has placed in two go-rounds and earned $20,733. Better yet, he’s moved up from 13th to 10th in the world standings, and there are seven rounds remaining in ProRodeo’s grand finale.
On Saturday night, Jarrett posted his fastest run of the rodeo, roping and tying his calf in 7.5 seconds. It earned him a fourth-place check worth $7,813. He’ll need to continue his streak if he hopes to continue up the world standings – in rodeo, dollars equal points, and the contestants in each event who finish the NFR with the most season earnings will be crowned world champions.
Jarrett knows that feeling well. In his first venture to the Nevada desert for rodeo’s super bowl, the Georgia-raised cowboy won the tie-down roping average championship and parlayed that into the all-around gold buckle, the most coveted trophy in the game.
LAS VEGAS – The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is a showcase that draws tens of thousands of rodeo fans daily to the Nevada desert during its 10-day run in the City of Lights.
Each go-round features a sell-out performance, with more than 17,000 fans cheering on ProRodeo’s brightest stars in one of the most electric arenas in sport. It’s a showcase, and the roar of the crowd can be deafening when they like what they see.
Saturday night’s feature was celebrated by some of the fastest times in the game, notably in steer wrestling, where all six placers finished runs in less than 4 seconds.
“You could really sense that the place had electricity,” said Hunter Cure, a Holliday, Texas, bulldogger who was one of four cowboys to grapple their steers to the ground in 3.8 seconds. “Our job, though, is you need to block that out as much as you can.”
Cure did. He joined Wade Sumpter, Jule Hazen and Casey Martin in finishing second in the third go-round; each cowboy earned $9,615 for their work. For Cure, now in his second trip to the NFR, he has earned $20,733 over three nights in Las Vegas.
“It’s almost as much as I made at 2009’s Wrangler National Finals,” he said. “I’m extremely excited about the fact that we’re just this far along in the money this early in the week.”
He should be.
“I think that was, top to bottom, the best set of cattle that are here,” said Cure, who attended Howard College in Big Spring, Texas, and Texas Tech University on rodeo scholarships. “I figured the winning time might even be faster than 3.6 (seconds).”
In fact, the quartet of bulldoggers had the fastest time of the go-round until the 14th cowboy to run, four-time world champion Luke Branquinho, snagged the victory. Fellow Texan Matt Reeves scored a 3.9 to round out the top 6.
“I think it makes it exciting not only for the fans, but also the cowboys, because you know you can’t make a mistake, and it needs to be a flawless run,” Cure said.
Flawless came with the assistance of hazer Riley Duvall and Cure’s horse, Charlie.
“Riley got that steer perfectly hazed right down the middle,” Cure said. “That gave my horse a great look at one, and it allowed me to get my feet in the right place to make that kind of run.”
With that formula in place, Cure has seven more nights to cash in all his chips in Vegas.
LAS VEGAS – In his second qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, saddle bronc rider Tyler Corrington is having a lot of fun.
His amusement increased Saturday night on the back of Carr Pro Rodeo’s Cool Runnings, an 11-year-old black gelding that matched moves with Corrington for 85.5 points, a score worthy of second place in the third go-round. That paid the Minnesota cowboy $14,724 and gave him some much needed momentum heading into the final seven nights of ProRodeo’s grand finale.
“That was a really fun horse,” said Corrington, who last competed in Las Vegas in 2011. “It feels great to get a check somewhat early and try to keep it rolling.
“I haven’t seen that horse much. He mainly stays in Texas with Pete Carr, but he was aweseom. He was really fun.”
Bronc busters live to ride great horses, and it paid off quite well for Corrington on Saturday. Based on the 100-point scale, half the score is attributed to the horse’s bucking style, and half is awarded to how well the cowboy rides through the animal’s bucking motion. The best bronc riders in the world have the rhythm and timing to match moves with their partners while spurring the horse.
Corrington had an outstanding 2013 campaign, finishing the regular season fourth place in the world standings. He also qualified for the Canadian Finals Rodeo, which took place in early November. But success can be fleeting, so the third-round performance was key for the Minnesota cowboy’s demeanor.
“I’m feeling confident, but I was a little shaky after having a bad Canadian Finals,” Corrington said.
He has dropped to fifth in the world standings, but he remains in contention for that coveted gold buckle that is awarded to the world champion. Now Corrington has seven more nights to make it happen.
“I’m not even going to think about it right now,” he said. “I’m just going to have fun and let the chips fall where they may.”
When a cowboy rides broncs for a living, that’s a winning approach.
LAS VEGAS – Chet Johnson likes his role as a veteran saddle bronc rider at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
He also likes the fact that he’s earned money in the first three rounds of the 2013 championship. On Saturday’s third night of competition, the Douglas, Wyo., bronc buster matched moves with J Bar J Rodeo’s Sweatin’ Bullets for 77.5 points to finish sixth and collect a check worth $3,005.
“I’m way more comfortable this year than I’ve ever been here,” said Johnson, now in his fourth NFR qualification. “I have way more experience than the first three times I was here. I’m one of the older guys, too, so I’m not as intimidated.
“When I first came here (in 2005), the veterans were Billy Etbauer, Dan Mortensen, Glen O’Neal and Rod Hay. They were my heroes, and I was riding against them. There was an intimidation factor there. Now I’ve been rodeoing with these guys my entire career. A lot of them are just new guys; they still ride really good, but it’s just different.”
Over three nights in the City of Lights, Johnson has pocketed more than $7,000. This is the place where big money can be made, with go-round winners earning $18,630 each night of the 10-round championship, but the Wyoming cowboy likes that he’s earned something in the opening few nights.
Most importantly, his cumulative score of 229.5 points through three rides is third best.
“I honestly didn’t think I was going to place in that round,” he said Saturday. “A lot of the horses didn’t have their day. You get out of rhythm, and I think horses do, too. I don’t know if it’s the weather, but it seems like a lot of them are worse in the chute, and they’re just not having their day.
“I thought it would take 82 or 83 points to place tonight. The horses just haven’t been doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Like everything, you don’t know what all is affecting them.”
Only the top 6 scores earn money each night, and Johnson’s was one of two money-makers who didn’t surpass the 80-point marking. Based on the 100-point scale, half the score comes from the ride, half comes from the animal.
“Everything I’ve been on, the horses just don’t have the action, so you’ve got to do it all yourself,” Johnson said. “I can’t complain; I’m still getting checks.”
That, especially in Las Vegas, is a good thing.
LAS VEGAS – The true competitive spirit that burns inside header Brandon Beers and heeler Jim Ross Cooper was sparked during the first two rounds of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
The team roping tandem failed to score a time in the opening go-round, then suffered a 5-second penalty on Night 2. They entered ProRodeo’s championship event third in the world standings and well within striking range of their first world championships
“Doing bad lit a little bit of a fire underneath us,” said Cooper, a four-time NFR qualifier from Monument, N.M. “We came in here thinking we were going to be solid and make good runs, but that’s not how we got where we were all year long. We got there by letting our hair down and having a good time and going fast. We just decided to get back to that plan.”
During the third go-round Saturday night, that’s just what happened. Beers and Cooper stopped the clock in 4.2 seconds to finish in a three-way tie for first place with Riley and Brady Minor and Drew Horner and Buddy Hawkins.
Cooper said he noticed the steers were a little jittery during their pre-NFR runs, so he adjusted his positioning so that his movement didn’t push the animals too far toward Beers.
“I stayed back too far in the first two, and that made Brandon miss the first one and put me in a bad position on the second one,” Cooper said. “I realized tonight that I needed to get out there and take our chances and deal with them where I want and see what happens.”
What happened was the first check of the NFR for the tandem. Each cowboy collected $14,824.
“This has been our M.O. at the NFR,” he said. “We’d miss one or two, then we’d get ticked off and go on a good roll. We’re going to try to rope angry the rest of the week.
“It’s all about the money this week, and the average take care of itself in the end. You just go fast and have fun. As a kid, you back in to the box and say, ‘This is in the NFR,’ and you make a practice run. That’s what we need to do the rest of the week.”
Maybe it’ll be making angry practice runs, or many it’s just an assertive focus toward their tasks, but it’s what they have on their minds for the next seven nights.
“That’s aggressive as I’ve ever been at the NFR,” Cooper said. “This is my fourth year here, and that’s the first time I’ve ever won a round.”
1. Cody Campbell on Wild Card Rodeo’s Magic, 90 points, $18,630; 2. J.W. Harris, 88.5, $14,724; 3. Cooper Davis, 85.5, $11,118; 4. Cody Teel, 82.5, $7,813; no other qualified rides.
1. Taylor Jacob, 13.65 seconds, $18,630; 2. (tie) Kayley Bass and Christy Loflin, 13.83, $12,291 each 4. (tie) Lisa Lockhart and Sherry Cervi, 13.87, $6,310; 6. Mary Walker, 13.94, $3,005.
1. Cody Ohl, 6.7 seconds, $18,630; 2. Shane Hanchey, 6.9, $14,724; 3. Clif Cooper, 7.3, $11,118; 4. Ryan Jarrett, 7.5, $7,813; 5. Shane Slack, 7.7, $4,808; 6. Tuf Cooper, 7.8, $3,005.
1. Wade Sundell on Big Stone, Moreo and Growney’s Big Muddy, 86.5, $18,630; 2. Tyler Corrington, 85.5, $14,724; 3. Isaac Diaz, 84, $11,118; 4. Cole Elshere, 80.5, $7,813; 5. Jesse Wright, 79, $4,808; 6. Chet Johnson, 77.5, $3,005.