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postheadericon Trevor splits tie-down with Swor

1. (tie) Cade Swor and Trevor Brazile, 7.6  seconds, $17,010 each; 3. Tuf Cooper, 7.7, $11,340; 4. Hunter Herrin, 7.8, $7,969; 5. Timber Moore, 7.9, $4,904; 6. Matt Shiozawa, 9.2, $3,065.

postheadericon Sundell moves up standings with win

1. Wade Sundell, 82.5 points on Big Bend Rodeo’s Broken Camp, $19,002; 2. Jake Wright, 82, $15,018;  3. Spencer Wright, 83, $11,340; 4. (tie) Dustin Flundra and Chad Ferley, 79.5, $6,436; 6. Jesse Wright, 76.5, $3,065.

postheadericon Feild wins for the second time

1. Kaycee Feild, 85.5 points on J Bar J’s Dirty Rags, $19,002; 2. Jake Vold, 84, $15,018; 3. (tie) Richie Champion and Bobby Mote, 83, $9,654 each; 5. Justin McDaniel, 82.5, $4,904; 6. Tilden Hooper, 82, $3,065.

postheadericon Sartain, Skelton win team roping

1. Nick Sartain/Rich Skelton, 3.9 seconds, $19,002; 2. Kaleb Driggers/Patrick Smith, 4.1, $15,018; 3. Tom Richards/Cesar de la Cruz, 4.4, $11,304; 4. Aaron Tsinigine/Clay O’Brien Cooper, 4.5, $7,969; 5. Coleman Proctor/Jake Long, 4.6, $4,904; 6. Clay Tryan/Jade Corkill, 5.2, $3,065.

postheadericon Nevada bulldogger wins Round 9

1. Dakota Eldridge, 3.3, $19,002; 2. Luke Branquinho, 3.9, $15,018; 3. Bray Armes, 4.1, $11,340;  4. Nick Guy, 4.2, $7,969; 5. Cole Edge and Kyle Irwin, 4.3, $3,984 each.

postheadericon Final 2 nights of NFR vital to Pierce

LAS VEGAS – The Thomas & Mack Center’s arena is not the optimum place to race around the cloverleaf pattern that is barrel racing.

Carlee Pierce

Carlee Pierce

The women and their blazing fast horses sprint down a blind alley, then must find the first barrel as quickly as possible. Even veteran Wrangler National Finals Rodeo horses struggle at times through the 10-round championship.

Carlee Pierce isn’t riding a veteran. In fact, she’s riding Lolo, a 6-year-old sorrel mare now competing at a rodeo for just the 10th time in her life. On Thursday night during the eighth round, the tandem finished the pattern in 14.10 seconds.

While that is amazingly fast, it was well off the pace to collect a check. The biggest component, though, was that first barrel, where Pierce and Lolo took a wide turn. In an event that is separated by hundredths of a second, that extra time made all the difference in the world. They finished 10th in the round – only the top six times cash a check.

Pierce has remained steady on the filly. Their cumulative time of 123.74 seconds is eighth in the average race. If she holds that position, the Edmond, Okla., cowgirl can add $4,597 when the rodeo concludes Saturday night.

But Pierce looks to cash in a little sooner than that. Each round offers a $61,298 purse, with the winners pocketing $19,000. There are two nights remaining on the 2014 ProRodeo season, and she looks to make a little more bank in the process. So far, she has earned $25,439.

postheadericon Champion solves Sudoku for 3rd

LAS VEGAS – Richmond Champion found himself on top of a difficult puzzle Thursday night.

The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is a mixed bag of amazing animals, but Champion found a way to put the pieces of the package together, riding Sankey Rodeo’s Sudoku for 82 points to finish the eighth round in third place. That was worth an additional $11,340.

Richmond Champion

Richmond Champion

The young cowboy is having the time of his life riding the greatest – and, as was the case Thursday, the most difficult – bucking horses in the sport. The eighth round featured the eliminator pen, the nastiest bareback horses in this year’s finale, and Sudoku definitely fit the bill.

Champion, of The Woodlands, Texas, is just days away from his 22nd birthday, but he’s riding like a veteran. In fact, he has performed better than a number of veterans. Of the 15 men in the bareback riding field, only three others have earned more.

He has placed in four of the last five go-rounds – including victories in Rounds 5 and 7 – and has collected more than $50,000. That’s a pretty good wage for eight days of work, but Champion has made a habit out of cashing in on the backs of bucking horses.

In March, he won $1.1 million at The American, a non-Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association sanctioned event that offered a large incentive for qualifiers. Champion not only won the bareback riding title but was the only contestant who worked through the qualifier system to do so.

He’s done awfully well in the PRCA, too. He qualified for his first NFR as the No. 7 man in the world standings. He has now pushed his season earnings past $140,000 and sits fifth with two rounds remaining.

Champion also sits fourth in the average race with 646.5 points. If he finishes in that position, he will add another $23,000 on Saturday night. But he’s just half a point out of third place, which pays a little more than $31,000. Of course, winning rounds pays $19,000, and the Texas cowboy knows that as well as anybody in the field.

postheadericon Irwin wins NFR round for third time

LAS VEGAS – Steer wrestler Kyle Irwin arrived in the Nevada desert on fire, placing in the first three go-rounds of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

That included sharing the second-round title with four-time world champion Luke Banquinho and winning the third round outright. But the Alabama cowboy found a cool streak among the sandy terrain and cacti – for four nights.

Kyle Irwin

Kyle Irwin

He found the branding iron again Thursday with 3.7-second run, tying him for the eighth-round victory with Montana cowboy Ty Erickson. For that, each cowboy earned $17,010.

“I’m not going to say I have or haven’t had the steers to place or to win go-rounds on, but the draw does play a huge role,” said Irwin, 24, of Robertsdale, Ala. “I have made some mistakes and a lot of that was me, but I got by what I think are some pretty trashy steers … ones that can take you out of it.

“(Thursday) I had one that I knew was going to give me a good chance, and I took full advantage of him. When you get a good one, win on him; when you get an OK one, get by him.”

That philosophy is working well for Irwin, who attended Western Oklahoma College and Northwestern Oklahoma State University on rodeo scholarships. He has earned nearly $58,000 in just eight nights and has pushed his 2014 earnings to $117,431. He is fourth in the world standings.

He also found a little positive karma prior to the performance.

“I took a ride with Joe Beaver today in a cab, and we were talking about everything,” Irwin said. “He said, ‘I’ve been lucky before, so I’m going to shake your hand and rub some off on you.’ I don’t know what Joe’s got going on tomorrow, but we’re getting in a cab and riding around again tomorrow.”

Joe Beaver is one of the ProRodeo’s legends, an eight-time world champion who also serves as an analyst for the NFR broadcasts. His words – and that handshake – helped the first-time NFR qualifier. He collects his third round victory, this time with another NFR rookie in Erickson.

“I think that says a lot about our industry and about the youth coming up,” Irwin said. “No part of me thinks this was a fluke, that I’m here because I deserve to be here, and I put in just as much effort and went to just as many rodeos, paid as many entry fees as everybody else, so I’m going to celebrate this round win. I think Ty should feel the same way.”

postheadericon Tate Branch team struggles Thursday

LAS VEGAS – No matter how many times one rolls the dice, it sometimes just comes up craps.

Clint Cooper

Clint Cooper

That was the case with the “Riding for the Brand” cowboys on Thursday night. While saddle bronc rider Taos Muncy had a qualified ride and tie-down roper Clint Cooper scored a quick run, neither they nor heeler Jim Ross Cooper placed in the eighth go-round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Clint Cooper, who grew up in Lovington, N.M., and resides in Decatur, Texas, roped and tied his calf in 7.4 seconds. He finished seventh in the round, one spot out of the money. His 2014 earnings stand at $108,316, eighth in the world standings.

Jim Ross Cooper and his header, Brandon Beers, suffered their third straight no-time. Cooper, of Monument, N.M., sits 10th in the world standings with $97,267.

Muncy, a two-time world champion from Corona, N.M., has watched his lead in the bronc riding dwindle. He has earned less than $15,000 at the NFR and sits third in the world standings with $141,437. He also is fourth in the average race, having ridden seven of eight horses for 536 cumulative points.

Two nights remain in the 2014 season. Muncy trails the No. 1 man, Heith DeMoss, by more than $22,000, but the New Mexican holds a better position in the average race.

postheadericon Kimzey crowned king

Sage Kimzey

Sage Kimzey

By finishing third in Thursday’s eighth go-round, 20-year-old sensation Sage Kimzey of Strong City, Okla., has clinched the 2014 bull riding world championship.

Kimzey has earned $250,897 with two rounds remaining at the NFR, $107,731 of which came in Las Vegas. He is just the second bull rider in ProRodeo history to have won the gold buckle as a rookie.