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postheadericon Colletti shares fifth-round victory

LAS VEGAS – Some guys find pain relief in high-dollar medicine; bareback rider Casey Colletti has a different form.

“Eighteen thousand (dollars) makes all the pain go away,” Colletti said after his 87.5-point, round-tying ride Monday night during the fifth round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Casey Colletti

Casey Colletti

Colletti rode Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Top Flight for what was the round victory and was in position to win the round outright with the potential to collect $18,630. However, four-time world champion Bobby Mote later matched the score with his ride on Andrews Rodeo’s PTSD Power Play, so the cowboys each pocketed $16,677.

Still, it’s a great night of work for the Pueblo, Colo., cowboy, who attended Garden City (Kan.) Community College. What’s more impressive is that Colletti is riding with a severely sprained MCL in his right knee.

“It’s not very easy,” he said. “Tonight was a little bit easier because that horse was just super amazing and outstanding, leaping in the air and giving me a lot of time.

“My hat’s off to the Justin Sportsmedicine team. Those guys and Dr. Tandy Freeman are amazing. I don’t even want to take off the tape right now. I want to leave it on for five more days.”

If it works, he might just do it. This marks the second straight year the Colorado cowboy has won the fifth go-round, known for featuring the most electric bucking animals in the business. Colletti was the third cowboy to ride, so he had to sit through the rest before finding out the results.

“It’s kind of tough sitting up there on the top of the bucking chutes,” he said. “You can name off every horse in that pen, and everybody’s going to beat you.”

It didn’t happen. What did was a confidence-booster.

“I was fighting my head bad,” he said of his attitude prior to Monday’s ride. “I didn’t know what to do. I’ve been pretty healthy the last couple of years. I’ve had my ups and downs last year. It’s tough being hurt, because there’s nothing you can do.

“My confidence was at ground level yesterday, then today, I just knew I had a chance because J.R. Vezain won the 10th round on Top Flight (last year). I’m through the ceiling with confidence.”

That makes the pain go away, too.

postheadericon Lisa Lockhart wins barrel racing

1. Lisa Lockhart, 13.72 seconds, $18,630; 2. Mary Walker, 13.73, $14,724; 3. (tie) Christy Loflin and Sherry Cervi and Taylor Jacob, 13.82, $7,913 each; 6. Shada Brazile, 13.93, $3,005.

postheadericon Ohl makes it three in a row

1. Cody Ohl, 7.3, $18,630; 2. (tie) Clif Cooper and Trevor Brazile, 7.4, $16,677 each; 4. (tie) Timber Moore and Stetson Vest, 7.7, $9,465 each; 6. Scott Kormos, 7.9, $3,005.

postheadericon Sundell gets Lunatic Fringe for the win

1. Wade Sundell on Burch Rodeo’s Lunatic Fringe, 87.5 points, $18,630; 2. (tie) Jake Wright and Cody Wright, 85.5, $12,291 each; 4. Heith DeMoss, 84.5, $7,813; 5. (tie) Tyler Corrington and Bradley Harter, 83, $3,906 each.

postheadericon Mote, Colletti claim fifth-round title

1. (tie) Bobby Mote on Andrews Rodeo’s PTSD Power Play and Casey Colletti on Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Top Flight, 87.5, $16,677 each; 3. Wes Stevenson, 86.5, $11,118; 4. Caleb Bennett, 86, $7,813; 5. Will Lowe, 85, $4,808; 6. (tie) Kaycee Field and Steven Peebles, 84.5, $1,503 each.

postheadericon Crawford, Motes take Round 5

1. Charly Crawford/Ryan Motes, 5.8 seconds, $18,630; 2. Clay Tryan/Jade Corkill, 6.1, $14,724; 3. Luke Brown/Kollin VonAhn, 7.3, $11,118; 4. Kaleb Driggers/Travis Graves, 9.7, $7,813; 5. Turtle Powell/Dugan Kelly, 10.0, $4,808; 6. Drew Horner/Buddy Hawkins II, 11.0, $3,005.

postheadericon Cure wins steer wrestling

1. Hunter Cure, 4.1 seconds, $18,630; 2. (tie) Luke Branquinho and Jule Hazen, 4.2, $12,921 each; 4. (tie) Jason Miller and Dean Gorsuch, 4.8, $6,310 each; 6. Wade Sumpter, 4.9, $3,005.

postheadericon Hazen places for 2nd straight night

LAS VEGAS – Jule Hazen is a man on a mission, and that is to make good money during his 10-night business venture to the City of Lights.

Jule Hazen

Jule Hazen

On Sunday night at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the Ashland, Kan., steer wrestler padded his pocketbook a little bit more with a 4.0-second run to finish fifth in the fourth go-round, earning $4,808 in the process. He pushed his NFR earnings to nearly $14,500 and sits seventh in the world standings.

Sunday’s run marked the second straight payday for Hazen, who pointed to his sponsorship agreement with Boot Hill Casino in Dodge City, Kan., as a key reason why he is competing at ProRodeo’s grand championship. The Kansas cowboy has moved his 2013 earnings to $83,689. But Las Vegas is where big money can be made, and he hopes to cash in his fair share of the chips.

Hazen rides Bam Bam, a 12-year-old black gelding that has been one of the driving forces behind a solid season. Still, he’s well within striking distance to his ultimate goal, claiming the gold buckle that is awarded to the season’s world champion.

With go-rounds paying $18,630 each night for 10 rounds, cowboys can make a significant move in the standings each day. Hazen is $42,677 behind world standings leader Casey Martin; if everything goes exactly right, Hazen can catch Martin in three rounds.

That’s what he’ll be trying to do in the final six nights of the 2013 championship.

postheadericon Bennett moves to 9th in the world

LAS VEGAS – Even in great riding shape, the aches and pains of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo have hit bareback rider Caleb Bennett.

“For the most part, I feel like I’m holding up pretty good,” Bennett said Monday afternoon, just hours after earning his third paycheck in four nights of competition in the City of Lights. “I was a little sore, but I think that has a lot to do with last night and the night before.”

Caleb Bennett

Caleb Bennett

Wedging one’s hand into a rigging that’s strapped tightly to the nastiest bucking beasts in the game will do that.

“I’ve been utilizing the Justin Sportsmedicine team, and that helps an awful lot,” said Bennett, a two-time NFR qualifier from Morgan, Utah. “There are a lot of advantages being down here compared to the regular rodeo season.”

Yes, there are. Through the toughest schedule over the summer, cowboys will get on at least one bucking horse a day, then travel overnight to get to the next rodeo. While competing on the best animals over 10 nights in December can be tough, there are the comforts of home that can’t be found while sleeping in the back of a moving vehicle.

“You can choose to have a full night’s rest, and you can choose to use the spa and a hot tub,” he said. “You can utilize it the right way, and you can benefit the way you get through the finals.”

So far, he’s doing quite well. On Sunday night, Bennett posted an 81-point ride on Bar T Rodeo’s Double Vision to finish in a fifth-place tie in the fourth round. He pocketed $3,906 and pushed his NFR earnings to a little more than $24,000. He also has moved from 15th to ninth in the world standings.

“I didn’t know a lot about that horse,” Bennett said. “I watched a couple guys get on him, even (fellow NFR cowboy) Steven Dent. Some of the guys said he was pretty strong, but Steven said he was just alright. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I should’ve prepared more for the stronger version.

“I didn’t necessarily ride as well as I should have. I had a chance to finish in the top 3, and it was my fault I was lower.”

He’s also ready to compete in Friday’s fifth go-round, which feature the greatest bareback horses in the world. Bennett is matched against Scarlet’s Web of the Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo string, a horse that carried Casey Colletti to the fifth-round victory a year ago.

“Overall, I’m pretty happy and satisfied with how things are going,” Bennett said. “I know I’ve got a really good one, one that they finish first or second in the round on every year.

“This pen of horses features the ones that really get your motor running and get you excited for the right reasons to ride bucking horses.”

The Utah cowboy has plenty of reasons to be excited.

postheadericon Armes finds revenge in 4th round

LAS VEGAS – Steer wrestler Bray Armes has a way of turning a negative into a positive.

He made it pay off Sunday night with a 3.5-second run to finish runner-up in the fourth go-round at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo – the run was worth $14,724 and pushed the Ponder, Texas, cowboy up to 12th in the world standings.

Bray Armes

Bray Armes

“I got a great start, and Ote put me right up his back,” Armes said, referring to the horse he rides. “I had a good steer, and I was just lucky to get him on his side.”

It was fortunate, and it was a reversal of fortunes. In the third round, Armes made a beautiful run, but as he went to put the finishing touches to stop the clock in one of the fastest times of the NFR, his left arm just missed the steer’s nose. The result was a 4.0-second run, just one-tenth out of the money.

“I had a little anger with myself built up,” said Armes, who was raised in Gruver, Texas. “I was not going to miss the nose on that steer.

“I typically have a 15-minute rule to think about a run, and I exceeded that one and went a little over it. I was just angry with myself that I let one slip away. We’re not perfect. We only can control what we can. God is going to take care of the rest. We’ve just always got to remember He’s got it already laid out, so we’ve just got to worry about our job.”

Human nature doesn’t always work that way, but Armes is a man of strong faith. He also has faith in himself and the rest of his team, Ote and his hazer, Riley Duvall.

“I feel good,” Armes said. “There are definitely things I wish I’d done a little better at. The main thing the first two rounds was that I wasn’t getting my start, and the start sets everything up. I’ve got Ote locked in. He’s doing great and getting me where I need to be.

“Riley’s getting everything lined out great. I’m just going to be backing in every night trying to win first, so we’ll see what happens.”

In addition to his earnings, Armes has a four-round cumulative time of 17.6 seconds, which puts him No. 3 in the aggregate standings. Should he remain in that spot through the conclusion of the NFR, he would add $30,649 – the average champion will win nearly $48,000.

“That average is a great check, but for what I’m here to do, I need go-rounds,” said Armes, who finished fourth in the NFR average a year ago. “I’ll just go for go-rounds, and hopefully the average will take care of itself again.”