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1. Jake Wright on J Bar J’s Special Time, 84.5 points, $18,630; 2. Chad Ferley, 83.5, $14,724; 3. Cort Scheer, 80.5, $11,118; ¬†4. (tie) Cody Wright and Taos Muncy, 79.5, $6,310 each; 6. Jacobs Crawley, 75, $3,005.
LAS VEGAS ‚Äď Bray Armes must like Las Vegas.
A year ago, the Ponder, Texas, cowboy ‚Äď competing at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for the first time ‚Äď earned more than $85,000. He‚Äôs well on his way to matching, and possibly exceeding, that total at this year‚Äôs championship.
On Wednesday night, Armes manhandled his steer to the ground in 3.9 seconds to finish runner-up in the seventh go-round, earning $14,724 in the process. He has earned $37,660. Most importantly, his seven-run cumulative time of 31.5 seconds is the best among bulldoggers, and he has a 2.7-second lead over the No. 2 man in the average, Casey Martin.
Martin leads the world standings race with more than $129,000. Armes has moved from 14th on the money list to eighth. Should Armes remain No. 1 in the average race, he‚Äôll pocket a $47,776 bonus, but second place pays $38,762 ‚Äď that means Martin holds an advantage.
‚ÄúIt would be awesome to win the average, but I‚Äôm for that gold buckle,‚ÄĚ said Armes, who grew up in Gruver, Texas. ‚ÄúI need to get a lot of money in the go-rounds, so that‚Äôs what I‚Äôm going for. I‚Äôm just going to keep throwing them down and see what happens.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs worked quite well so far. The powerful Texan has placed in four go-rounds. The steer he ran Wednesday had a pretty good track record, so he knew there was something special brewing before he backed into the timed-event chute.
‚ÄúHe runs real hard, but I knew if I got a good start, I dang sure could place on him,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI got a great start, and he fell off to the right on me. (Hazer) Riley Duvall did a great job bringing him back to me. I got my hands on him, slowed down and dumped him over.‚ÄĚ
Of course, a big part of that is having the right mental approach. After admitting that he had been letting the pressure of the moment get to him, Armes has changed his focus. It‚Äôs been rather beneficial.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm a lot more relaxed, just letting it happen,‚ÄĚ he said.
1. Cody Teel on Bar T Rodeo’s Slim Chance, 85, $18,630; 2. Cooper Davis, 84, $14,724; 3. Parker Breding, 80.5, $11,118; 4. Josh Koschel, 79.5, $7,813; 5. Tyler Willis, 74.5, $4,808; no other qualified rides.
Cort Scheer is about to mount his fourth saddle bronc of the night. He was just rewarded a third re-ride after the performance closed.
1. Taylor Jacob, 13.47 seconds, $18,630; 2. Michelle McLeod, 13.48, $14,724; 3. Mary Walker, 13.58, $11,118; 4. Trula Churchill, 13.67, $7,813; 5. Sherry Cervi, 13.72, $4,808; 6. Lisa Lockhart, 13.83, $3,005.
1. Cody Ohl, 6.7 seconds, $18,630; 2. Trevor Brazile, 7.3, $14,724; 3. (tie) Shane Hanchey and Scott Kormos, 7.7, $9,655 each; 5. Stetson Vest, 7.9, $4,808; 6. Clif Cooper, 8.2, $3,005.
1. Kaycee Feild on Calgary Stampede’s Shadow Warrior, 83 points, $18,630; 2. Clint Cannon, 82.5, $14,724; 3. Ryan Gray, 80, $11,118; 4. (tie) Steven Dent and Wes Stevenson and Steven Peebles, 79.5, $5,208 each.
1. (tie) Clay Tryan/Jade Corkill and Dustin Bird/Paul Eaves, 4.1 seconds, $16,677 each; 3. Riley Minor/Brady Minor, 4.6, $11,118; 4. Trevor Brazile/Patrick Smith, 4.8 $7,813; 5. Justin Davis/Clay O’Brien Cooper, 6.3, $4,808; 6. Brandon Beers/Jim Ross Cooper, 7.3, $3,005.
1. Matt Reeves, 3.1 seconds, $18,630; 2. Bray Armes, 3.9, $14,724; 3. (tie) Stan Branco and Dean Gorsuch, 4.0, $9,465 each; 5. Trevor Knowles, 4.1, $4,808; 6. Casey Martin, 4.3, $3,005.
Here are your money leaders
We‚Äôve got just four go-rounds remaining in the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, and here are the contestants in each event who have won the most so far:
‚Äď¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Bareback rider Caleb Bennett, $46,575
‚Äď¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Steer wrestler Dean Gorsuch, $46,575
‚Äď¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Team ropers Brady and Riley Minor, $48,117
‚Äď¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Saddle bronc rider Wade Sundell, $52,985
‚Äď¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Tie-down roper Shane Hanchey, $58,894
‚Äď¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Barrel racer Sherry Cervi, $70,413
‚Äď¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Bull rider J.W. Harris, $67,007
Other end of the spectrum
There are several contestants who haven‚Äôt found that type of success. In fact, ??? haven‚Äôt found any at all:
‚Äď¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Bareback rider Jared Smith
‚Äď¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Steer wrestler Straws Milan
‚Äď¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Barrel racer Jean Winters
‚Äď¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† And bull riders Cole Echols and Tyler Willis
LAS VEGAS ‚Äď Tyler Corrington rides saddle broncs for a living.
He loves his job, and he‚Äôs showing it this week in his second qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Corrington, 27, of Hastings, Minn., has placed in each of the last four go-rounds, including a sixth-place finish Tuesday night that was worth $3,005. He rode Barnes PRCA Rodeo‚Äôs Cat Power for 80 points, and that move propelled his NFR earnings to $32,752.
So far this season, Corrington has earned $130,679 riding bucking horses. He is sixth in the world standings but just about $17,000 behind the world standings leader, two-time world champion Cody Wright.
Go-round winners earn $18,630 each of the 10 December nights of ProRodeo‚Äôs grand finale, so if things go well, the Minnesota cowboy could move into the top spot on the money list. That‚Äôs easier said than done, though, because the NFR features the 15 greatest bronc busters from the 2013 season.
Still, Las Vegas is the place for cowboys to find their riches. What‚Äôs most valuable, though, is that the contestants in each event who finish the NFR with the most money will walk away from the Thomas & Mack Center with the most coveted prizes in the sport, a world champion‚Äôs gold buckle. That‚Äôs one of the things for which Corrington is riding.
But he also is having a blast. You see, each night the top 15 bucking horse riders are matched against the greatest broncs in rodeo. That makes it fun for the cowboys and exciting for the more than 17,000 fans who pack the Thomas & Mack every night.
On Wednesday night, the bronc riders will face their biggest tests of the NFR, being matched against the ‚Äúeliminator‚ÄĚ pen of bucking horses, the nastiest, hardest-to-ride animals in the game. Corrington‚Äôs blind draw has him matched against Killer Bee of Oklahoma-based Beutler & Son Rodeo. Last Friday, Killer Bee bucked off five-time NFR qualifier Heith DeMoss.
Corrington knows the challenges he faces over the remaining four rounds, but he‚Äôs ready for them. He likely will handle his business with a smile on his face.
LAS VEGAS ‚Äď Every year at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, several contestants make powerful statements with their performances during the 10-day championship.
Steer wrestler Hunter Cure of Holliday, Texas, is one of them.
Through six go-rounds inside the Thomas & Mack Center, Cure has placed four times, including a Round 5 victory. He has earned $44,571 of Vegas money and has moved up to fourth in the world standings race ‚Äď his 2013 earnings are inches close from $110,000.
On Tuesday night during the NFR‚Äôs sixth go-round, Cure grappled his steer to the ground in 3.9 seconds to finish in a three-way tie for fourth place. He pocketed $5,208 for his run.
To compare this year‚Äôs championship to the only other time he has competed at the NFR, he already has placed in more go-rounds than he did in 2009. Oh, and there are still four rounds to go, so the possibilities of increased success stand out quite well in the Nevada desert.
Cure also has the seventh fastest cumulative time, downing six steers in 34.2 seconds. The top eight in that aggregate at the conclusion of the NFR will earn bonus checks, with the average champion earning nearly $48,000. Should the Howard College (Texas) and Texas Tech University graduate remain in seventh, he will add another $8,100 to his paycheck in the City of Lights.
LAS VEGAS ‚Äď When steer wrestler Bray Armes walked into the Thomas & Mack Center late Tuesday afternoon, it was a different stride, a more confident walk.
‚ÄúThis evening when I got here, I just decided to back off and have fun,‚ÄĚ Armes said, explaining that he felt as though he‚Äôd been pressing some through the first few rounds of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. ‚ÄúI backed in the (timed-event) box and was relaxed and got a great start.‚ÄĚ
Yes, he did; then Armes put his faith in his trusty steed and his own ability.
‚ÄúOte slid me right up the steer‚Äôs back,‚ÄĚ he said of the palomino horse. ‚ÄúI did all I could do and got the steer on his side, then I was just lucky enough to place.‚ÄĚ
The Ponder, Texas, cowboy stopped the clock in 3.9 seconds to finish in a three-way tie for fourth place in the sixth round. He added $5,208 to his NFR earnings, which are nearly $23,000. It was a nice rebound from a tough run the night before.
‚ÄúI just don‚Äôt know what I did last night,‚ÄĚ said Armes, who sits third in the all-important average race with a six-run cumulative time of 27.6 seconds. ‚ÄúI guess I was just trying too hard.‚ÄĚ
So he changed his attitude and his game plan.
‚ÄúWhen you slow down, you do things right,‚ÄĚ Amres said. ‚ÄúWhen you try to go fast, you usually screw up. I‚Äôm just going to back in the box and try to blow the barrier out every night and try to make a smooth run. I think smooth will win.‚ÄĚ
In timed events, contestants must give the livestock on which they compete a head start. A barrier line is pulled tightly in front of a steer wrestler and is released once the steer has received the adequate distance. Blowing the barrier out means Armes will try to time his run to hit the barrier just as it is release ‚Äď not behind it, because then he‚Äôs late; not before it, because he‚Äôll suffer a 10-second penalty.
And when you‚Äôre as good as Armes, it‚Äôs a little frustrating when something happens like the fifth-round run, which stopped the clock in 6.1 seconds and was well off the pace to earn money. But the cowboy who grew up near Gruver, Texas, has a supportive, yet rodeo-educated, family: wife Neelley, daughter Breely and son Drake, who had a few words for Dad after his struggles Monday.
‚ÄúWhen I picked him up, he said, ‚ÄėDaddy, you bulldogged like a girl,‚Äô ‚ÄĚ Armes said. ‚ÄúI said, ‚ÄėYeah, bubba, I did.‚Äô ‚ÄĚ
Bray Armes is a big, burly man with a long stride and a winning demeanor. That‚Äôs what he hopes to bring to the NFR party each round for the final four nights.
LAS VEGAS ‚Äď How focused is bareback rider Caleb Bennett?
‚ÄúI go to bed thinking about making a statement with my riding,‚ÄĚ said Bennett, now in his second straight qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. ‚ÄúI go to bed thinking about great bucking horses and riding great bucking horses. I wake up, and I think about it all day long.
‚ÄúThoughts become things, and I just picture myself winning go-rounds and drawing great horses and winning lots of money.‚ÄĚ
He‚Äôs right, because thoughts are becoming things. On Tuesday night, Bennett matched moves with Three Hills Rodeo‚Äôs Peaches N Cream for 84 points to finish as the runner-up in the sixth go-round. He added $14,724 to his NFR earnings, which have reached $46,575.
‚ÄúThree Hills brought a great horse,‚ÄĚ said Bennett, who has placed five of six nights, including the victory in Round 1. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs another one I‚Äôve never been on, and I‚Äôve wanted to get on her and have watched her for years. I really thought that was the one to win the round on tonight. She‚Äôs very consistent, the same trip every time.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs been a special week for the Utah cowboy, who has moved from 15th to sixth in the world standings and is the No. 1 man in the average race ‚Äď his six-ride cumulative score of 497 points is just half a point better than another Utah bronc buster, two-time reigning world champion Kaycee Feild.
‚ÄúRight now I‚Äôm just trying to keep a level head,‚ÄĚ Bennett said. ‚ÄúI just keep thinking about the good ones and hope that they‚Äôre by my name every time and try to ride them the best I can.‚ÄĚ
Cowboys are matched with their livestock by a blind draw, and the NFR features 100 of the very best bareback horses in the game. It takes equal parts of quality horse and a quality ride to make for big scores.
‚ÄúI am humbled,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThis is unreal. I read a deal that Wade (Sundell) said that he was far enough down that he had nothing to lose, so he was just going to make a statement here.‚ÄĚ
So he visited with traveling partner J.R. Vezain of Cowley, Wyo., about those thoughts, then put them into his own words.
‚ÄúI know I‚Äôm 15th, and I know I squeaked in there,‚ÄĚ Bennett said. ‚ÄúI know a lot of guys aren‚Äôt really looking for me to do that good this year. I‚Äôm going to be like Wade, and I‚Äôm going to try to make a statement.‚ÄĚ
He is ‚Ä¶ to nearly $50,000 in six nights.
Vezain has been wearing a vest specially made by Ty Skiver, who is the step-father of another traveling partner, R.C. Landingham. Skiver made the vest in support of his wife and Landingham‚Äôs mother, Wendy Skiver. All the bareback riders will sign the vest, and it will be part of a raffle; tickets are being sold at the Barstow booth at Cowboy Christmas, and money raised will go to help with Wendy Skiver‚Äôs medical bills.
‚ÄúWe really want to help them as much as we can, and I think this is a great way to tie it all together,‚ÄĚ Bennett said.