What an amazing Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) we have had. Six rounds of competition and we have had dominance in the team roping, but in most of the other events they are really spreading the money around.
That always keeps it interesting and we love seeing fresh faces in the media room. When the same people win night after night, it seems like we are asking the same questions over and over. So, we like having different people winning rounds and coming to see us.
Steven Peebles has dominated the bareback riding so far with two round wins and a tie for first in another. The guy he tied with, Kaycee Feild came back and won the next round. The sixth round was the first that Steven didn’t get a check in, but he is one spot ahead of Kaycee in the overall standings. It looks like the bareback riding will be a dog fight between these two until the end.
Steer wrestling had the closest spread coming in and is still nearly anyone’s game. The lead in the world standings has changed nearly every night. Clayton Hass and K.C. Jones have each won two rounds, but also have come up empty and are out of the average. Ty Erickson was in the driver’s seat until Tuesday night, but a broken barrier and 10-second penalty changed that once again. Hunter Cure leads the world by just $103 over Clayton.
It’s a really good time to be part of Team Navajo Nation in the team roping. A portion of each round win has gone to headers Aaron Tsinigine or Derrick Begay. Aaron is roping with Ryan Motes and they are also second overall. Derrick and Clay O’Brien Cooper had their second no-time in the sixth round and are seeing their dreams of a gold buckle slip away, but are still going to go home with lots of money. The other representative on the team, Erich Rogers and his heeler Cory Petska lead the overall (average) by 1.2 seconds. Derrick and Clay are first place in the world standings, but with their two-no times that isn’t likely to last. Derrick and Aaron are tied in the earnings here with $75, 942. Erich has won $45,269 bringing the total to $197,153 for Team Navajo Nation.
Saddle bronc riding has seen five different men make victory laps with round wins. Rookie contender CoBurn Bradshaw won rounds two and five and is third overall. Wade Sundell won the first round and has placed in three others. He leads the overall standings. Other round winners include Cody DeMoss (three); Rusty Wright (four); and Isaac Diaz (six). Jacobs Crawley is second in the overall standings and has taken over first place in the world standings.
Tie-down roping has seen the biggest upsets and surprises. Tuf Cooper is currently at the bottom of the pack in the overall standings. He is still first in the world standings, but his brother-in-law Trevor Brazile has made a big move winning two rounds and being fourth in the overall standings. Trevor is now second in the world standings.
We had a different round winner each night through the first five rounds of barrel racing. Round six saw two repeat winners at the top of the board. Taylor Jacob won round three. Round four saw Sarah Rose McDonald in first place. These two ladies tied for the win on Tuesday night with 13.91 second runs. Lisa Lockhart hasn’t gotten a go-round buckle yet this year, but is at the top of the world standings. It’s no surprise that the consistent duo of Lisa and Louie (An Oakie With Cash) lead the average race as well. They have placed in every round and have already won $85,462 bringing their total earnings to $246,982. McDonald is currently second with $220,965, but a five-second penalty in the first round has put her in fifth in the average.
Bull riding may have been full of the most surprises of all the events here. Not only has Sage Kimzey not won a round yet, there have been six different round winners. Parker Breding came into the competition in second place, won the first round and has been nursing injured ribs since then. The second round went to Clayton Foltyn who was the only bull rider to ride eight seconds. 2012 world champion Cody Teel has ridden five out of six bulls so far, is leading the overall standings, and is putting pressure on Sage. Other round winners include Joe Frost, Wesley Silcox and Bret Stall.
The 2015 All-Around World Champion is officially Trevor Brazile for the 13th time in his career. He clinched the title with his tie-down roping win in the sixth round. This moves his gold buckle count up to 23. Big news right? No one expected Trevor to not win this title.
Trevor Brazile, always gracious, expects more of himself than anyone else ever could. He works at success, plans for it and when it happens remembers all of the people that have helped him along the way and gives credit to them as well as to God.
“The greatest thing about rodeo and sports in general is the family and bonds you make along the way,” Trever said. “What motivates me now is I don’t want (the all-around title) to go to anybody else. I don’t want my fairy tale to end like that. I want to be as good as I can for as long as I can. I want to be a good steward of the talents that God has given me and I want to leave the sport better than when I found it.”
There have been some other big surprises at this year’s NFR, like Sage Kimzey bucking off his first bull and slapping his second for a two-round shut out. Sage has ridden four and is second in the average and leads the world standings. I find it hard to believe that we are be heading into the seventh round and that the standings leaders in team roping, tie-down roping, barrel racing and bull riding haven’t won a round yet.
There have been some contestants that have had extreme misfortune here and have yet to get a paycheck. Sixty-year-old Rookie of the Year contender in the barrel race, Vickie Carter is one of those. Her story is so amazing. Her journey to get to the NFR started with a horse that belonged to a young woman, Rachel Hendrix, who tragically lost her life in an auto accident. So Vickie and the horse, Blazin Ta Fame, have been “Riding for Rach” all year long. Tragedy struck again last month when Blaze Man had to have colic surgery. He was having a rough time, so at 7 o’clock Sunday morning, Vickie got on an airplane and headed to Utah.
She went to the vet clinic, spent some time with Blaze Man, got back on the plane and was ready to run in the fourth round of the rodeo. It was reported that the horse perked up and is expected to make a full recovery. I hope he does and that he and Vickie are here again next year so the story will continue!
I always tell people that once the rodeo starts it all goes by so fast. It truly is a whirlwind for everyone out here, but one that we are all blessed to be part of.