The final weekend of the Wrangler NFR is always a frenzied affair, with various activities wrapping up and the 10-day extravaganza coming to a close. With world champions being crowned, a pageant ending, charity donations coming in left and right and records falling, it’s a heck of a final few days of the world’s grandest rodeo.
There is tons to write about, and I could go on for days, but I decided to condense it all as much as possible with a “miscellaneous” collection of tidbits for this column. Here are the highlights.
Hail to the champs
Names were added to rodeo’s history books in Round 10, with nine world championships being officially recognized. Trevor Brazile wrapped up his ninth all-around gold buckle in Round 4, and Kaycee Feild clinched his first world title after Round 9, and they were congratulated by fans after Saturday night’s performance.
They were joined by Luke Branquinho (third world title), Turtle Powell (first), Jhett Johnson (first), Taos Muncy (second), Tuf Cooper (first), Lindsay Sears (second) and Shane Proctor (first) on the world champions’ stage at the Thomas & Mack Center, and that’s always a special scene.
They came to the Wrangler NFR press room after the performance for interviews, but Proctor was noticeably absent. He had already clinched his first PRCA world title when J.W. Harris was bucked off the ride before, and got hung up in his bull rope after being bucked off Powder River Rodeo’s Black Attack. Proctor was attended to by the Justin Sportsmedicine Team, and they reported he suffered a broken left (free) arm and will undergo surgery to repair the injury in a few days.
Hundreds of people headed back to The Mirage after the performance for the 10th Night PRCA Champions Awards Party.
Cooper’s victory made him and his Hall of Fame father Roy “Super Looper” Cooper the seventh father-son world championship tandem in ProRodeo history. Feild and his father became the sixth dynamic duo after Round 9.
Not only did Feild join his Hall of Fame father Lewis as a world champ, but he utterly dominated the Wrangler NFR. His Round 10 win – with an 87 on Carr Pro Rodeo’s MGM Deuces Night – was his sixth victory in 10 days. No roughstock rider in the history of ProRodeo had ever won six rounds at the Wrangler NFR in the event’s history before Feild did it Saturday.
His $179,327 in earnings set a Wrangler NFR single-event record (by a whopping $20,589), and his 860.5 points on 10 head broke Justin McDaniel’s mark of 859 points set in 2008. Feild also set a new bareback riding single-season earnings record of $319,986, nearly $10,000 more than Bobby Mote’s record of $310,219 from 2009.
“It’s awesome, and I don’t really know how to explain it all,” said Feild, who was wearing a white shirt signed by U.S. troops from Afghanistanfrom his Wrangler Patriot Tour earlier this year. “Deuces Night was the horse I wanted for sure, and I was just blessed to draw him. To come here and win the last round is just awesome.
“I dreamed of (all this), but to have it become a reality is just awesome. I’m so happy.”
Feild’s Round 10 victory also secured him the coveted Ram Truck Top Gun Award for earning the most money at this year’s Wrangler NFR. For his efforts, Feild will receive a 2012 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty Laramie truck.
“To win a brand new truck is just icing on the cake,” he said.
Saddle bronc rider Jesse Wright broke the Wrangler NFR average record of 847 points set by his brother, World Champion Cody Wright, last year. Jesse scored 80 points on Harry Vold Rodeo’s Painted Valley to break his older brother’s record by 1.5 points, and he also set a new Wrangler NFR earnings record for his event with $160,962.
Powell’s and Johnson’s $125,625 set a Wrangler NFR team roping earnings record for both headers and heelers.
Wrangler NFR rookie barrel racer Carlee Pierce set the only event score or time record, establishing a new single-run record with a 13.46-second run in Round 5.
Saturday’s Round 10 also marked the final Wrangler NFR performances for a pair of my media mates. Jeff Wolf, the longtime Las Vegas Review-Journal writer who is covering his 12th Wrangler NFR this year, has taken a job in auto racing in Indianapolis and covered his final Wrangler NFR round tonight.
Jeff is a great guy, has been a fan and friend of ProRodeo for years and helped the Wrangler NFR gain exposure inLas Vegas. I first met him while working for the PRCA, and he was always appreciative of our efforts to take care of the media in the press room.
Jeff could be a harsh critic – of the media operation, the Wrangler NFR and the PRCA in general – but it was just because he justifiably had high standards for the event. He more routinely praised the association and wrote about the cowboys with gusto. He was always the guy you wanted to go the extra mile for and make sure he had what he needed, and Jeff was the one journalist who would go out of his way to sing your praises to your boss if you had done a good job.
Jeff was surprised during the bareback riding in Round 9 when Wrangler NFR announcer Boyd Polhamus honored him with some kind words for his dedicated coverage through the years. It was arranged by PRCA Director of Communications Kendra Santos, and Jeff was greatly touched by the gesture. I was glad I was sitting next to him on the media deck next to the announcer’s stand when it happened, and we later heard he earned a round of applause from the Wrangler NFR press room when he appeared on the telecast.
The media staff even fashioned a No. 1 back number for the “Wolfman,” and he fittingly wore it for part of the final round.
In addition, PSN Staff Writer Marvin Olberding worked his final Wrangler NFR. I suggested to Santos a few years ago that we hire Marvin to fill a spot on the PSN staff, and I’m glad we did.
Marvin will soon be moving from Colorado Springs, Colo., to St. Louis, and it’s a decision he’s at peace with.
As he says, “You see, there’s a girl.”
As rodeo people know, when love calls, you answer and do what you need to do, and Marvin is doing just that. I’m sure you’ll still see his bylines in the PSN or elsewhere in the rodeo world in 2012 and beyond.
Marvin really took to the sport of rodeo, writing about it with great enthusiasm and skill. He did a great job for the magazine and was an asset to the department, especially for his hard work with the PRCA’s operations of the event during the Wrangler NFR.
We cracked open some bubbly at the end of Round 10 to celebrate Jeff’s and Marvin’s new chapters of their lives, and I’m sure they will do great with everything they do from here on out.
I am lucky to count them both as friends, and they will be greatly missed at the Wrangler NFR.
A new queen
Miss Rodeo Oregon Mackenzie Carr won the title of Miss Rodeo America 2012 before the final performance at the MGM Grand. Miss Rodeo Utah Jamie Udell was the first runner-up, while Miss Rodeo California Brittany Slaton finished as the second runner-up.
Carr won the appearance, personality, horsemanship and speech categories and also took home the Raeana Wadhams Spirit Award, first place in the scrapbook award race and the Chap Award (a scholarship from the WPRA).
The world of ProRodeo is full of giving individuals, and many of the funds change hands in Las Vegas.
Crown Royal Riders Tilden Hooper, Steve Woolsey and Wesley Silcox presented a check for $10,000 to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund and its program manager Cindy Schonholtz. The JCCF, which helps injured contestants who are unable to work, also got a huge shot in the arm from the 24th Annual Pro Rodeo League of Women Luncheon and Fashion Show, which was held at the South Point on Thursday.
For the second consecutive year, the luncheon raised $100,000 for the JCCF, which will put the funds to good use.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and the city of Las Vegas presented a check for $9.825 million to PRCA Commissioner Karl Stressman and PRCA Chairman of the Board Keith Martin during the 10th performance to represent the city’s total investment to the Wrangler NFR.
Before the barrel racing, Feild helped Wrangler present a $500,000 check to the Wrangler National Patriot Fund in honor of funds raised to help veterans andU.S. soldiers.
There were numerous other donations, fundraisers and check presentations that took place during the 10 days of the rodeo, but those are the most recent.
What an amazing 10 days it’s been in Las Vegas, and it always goes by in a flash. For 53 years, the Wrangler NFR has thrilled fans as the most impressive and monumental rodeo in the world.
This year was no different.