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LAS VEGAS ‚Äď The true competitive spirit that burns inside header Brandon Beers and heeler Jim Ross Cooper was sparked during the first two rounds of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
The team roping tandem failed to score a time in the opening go-round, then suffered a 5-second penalty on Night 2. They entered ProRodeo‚Äôs championship event third in the world standings and well within striking range of their first world championships
‚ÄúDoing bad lit a little bit of a fire underneath us,‚ÄĚ said Cooper, a four-time NFR qualifier from Monument, N.M. ‚ÄúWe came in here thinking we were going to be solid and make good runs, but that‚Äôs not how we got where we were all year long. We got there by letting our hair down and having a good time and going fast. We just decided to get back to that plan.‚ÄĚ
During the third go-round Saturday night, that‚Äôs just what happened. Beers and Cooper stopped the clock in 4.2 seconds to finish in a three-way tie for first place with Riley and Brady Minor and Drew Horner and Buddy Hawkins.
Cooper said he noticed the steers were a little jittery during their pre-NFR runs, so he adjusted his positioning so that his movement didn‚Äôt push the animals too far toward Beers.
‚ÄúI stayed back too far in the first two, and that made Brandon miss the first one and put me in a bad position on the second one,‚ÄĚ Cooper said. ‚ÄúI realized tonight that I needed to get out there and take our chances and deal with them where I want and see what happens.‚ÄĚ
What happened was the first check of the NFR for the tandem. Each cowboy collected $14,824.
‚ÄúThis has been our M.O. at the NFR,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôd miss one or two, then we‚Äôd get ticked off and go on a good roll. We‚Äôre going to try to rope angry the rest of the week.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs all about the money this week, and the average take care of itself in the end. You just go fast and have fun. As a kid, you back in to the box and say, ‚ÄėThis is in the NFR,‚Äô and you make a practice run. That‚Äôs what we need to do the rest of the week.‚ÄĚ
Maybe it‚Äôll be making angry practice runs, or many it‚Äôs just an assertive focus toward their tasks, but it‚Äôs what they have on their minds for the next seven nights.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs aggressive as I‚Äôve ever been at the NFR,‚ÄĚ Cooper said. ‚ÄúThis is my fourth year here, and that‚Äôs the first time I‚Äôve ever won a round.‚ÄĚ
1. Cody Campbell on Wild Card Rodeo’s Magic, 90 points, $18,630; 2. J.W. Harris, 88.5, $14,724; 3. Cooper Davis, 85.5, $11,118; 4. Cody Teel, 82.5, $7,813; no other qualified rides.
1. Taylor Jacob, 13.65 seconds, $18,630; 2. (tie) Kayley Bass and Christy Loflin, 13.83, $12,291 each 4. (tie) Lisa Lockhart and Sherry Cervi, 13.87, $6,310; 6. Mary Walker, 13.94, $3,005.
1. Cody Ohl, 6.7 seconds, $18,630; 2. Shane Hanchey, 6.9, $14,724; 3. Clif Cooper, 7.3, $11,118; 4. Ryan Jarrett, 7.5, $7,813; 5. Shane Slack, 7.7, $4,808; 6. Tuf Cooper, 7.8, $3,005.
1. Wade Sundell on Big Stone, Moreo and Growney’s Big Muddy, 86.5, $18,630; 2. Tyler Corrington, 85.5, $14,724; 3. Isaac Diaz, 84, $11,118; 4. Cole Elshere, 80.5, $7,813; 5. Jesse Wright, 79, $4,808; 6. Chet Johnson, 77.5, $3,005.
1. (tie) Drew Horner/Buddy Hawkins II and Riley Minor/Brady Minor and Brandon Beers/Jim Ross Cooper, 4.2 seconds, $14,824 each; 4. Trevor Brazile/Patrick Smith, 4.3, $7,813; 5. Turtle Powell/Dugan Kelly, 4.4, $4,808; 6. Luke Brown/Kolin VonAhn, 4.5, $3,005.
1. Luke Branquinho, 3.6 seconds, $18,630; 2. (tie) Wade Sumpter and Casey Martin and Hunter Cure and Jule Hazen, 3.8, $9,615 each; 6. Matt Reeves, 3.9, $3,005.
1. Steven Peebles on Andrews Rodeo’s Cool Water, 85.5, $18,630; 2. Austin Foss, 84.5, $14,724; 3. Bobby Mote, 81.5, $11,118; 4. (tie) Clint Cannon and Steven Dent, 79.5, $6,310 each; 6. Jessy Davis, 79, $3,005.
LAS VEGAS ‚Äď Sometimes just getting through is a good thing.
Take Chet Johnson on Friday night during the second round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The Sheridan, Wyo., cowboy rode C5 Rodeo‚Äôs Biff for 74 points, pocketing $3,005 in the process.
‚ÄúI had one of the weaker horses in the pen, which is not always a bad thing in the eliminator pen,‚ÄĚ Johnson said, referring to the toughest-to-ride horses in this year‚Äôs NFR. ‚ÄúJust getting a check and getting two ridden is always a big relief.‚ÄĚ
Yes it is. In fact, most of the bronc riders in the field failed to score an eight-second qualifying ride. Of the 15 cowboys in the mix at ProRoeo‚Äôs championship event, only six earned scores.
Most importantly for Johnson, he‚Äôs ridden both broncs he‚Äôs attempted to ride and has collected $4,006 in the process. While that‚Äôs a long ways from the top of the heap ‚Äď traveling partner Cort Scheer has won nearly $26,000 in two nights ‚Äď it is important for Johnson to continue to ride well.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm pretty happy with it,‚ÄĚ said Johnson, who credits his sponsorship with Wyoming Tourism and Rodeo Austin as keys to his fourth NFR qualification. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs good to get two checks. I really want to get something going. Obviously I‚Äôd like to be placing higher, but I‚Äôll take this. I feel good, but I just don‚Äôt believe I‚Äôve had the best chances. Hopefully I‚Äôll get to placing higher here pretty quickly.‚ÄĚ
Staying on is important, too. In addition to go-round winners earning $18,630 each night, the top 10-ride cumulative score will claim the coveted NFR average title and a check worth nearly $48,000. Since the rodeo season ended more than two months ago, several of the top cowboys have taken time away from the rodeo arena to get themselves ready. Johnson went about things another way, competing in the Canadian Finals Rodeo the second weekend in November.
He‚Äôs in good riding shape as he handles the rigors of the 10-round title bout. It has helped, especially after Johnson‚Äôs first horse of the rodeo had a bad start and fouled the Wyoming cowboy, hitting Johnson‚Äôs leg on the chute gate and dumping him to the dirt. He was rewarded a second chance on another horse and finished the first round in a tie for sixth place.
‚ÄúThat horse hit me pretty good on the gate, so I was a little sore,‚ÄĚ Johnson said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre staying at the Monte Carlo, and they‚Äôve taken good care of us. We try to go to the spa every day to take care of the body.‚ÄĚ
As long as it works, Johnson will hit the spa every day. He‚Äôs got eight more chances to make a significant living in Las Vegas, so it‚Äôs well worth it.
LAS VEGAS ‚Äď Caleb Bennett likes the way things are going so far during his business venture to the City of Lights.
Over the course of the first two of 10 go-rounds, the Morgan, Utah, cowboy has a round victory and a share of sixth place, the latter of which happened Friday night when he spurred the Pete Carr‚Äôs Classic Pro Rodeo horse Fancy Free for 82 points. That was worth $1,502.
In all, though, Bennett has pocketed $20,132 at the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. That‚Äôs a great two days‚Äô work, but it‚Äôs just the beginning right.
‚ÄúThis start is a lot better than last year,‚ÄĚ said Bennett, now in his second straight NFR qualification. ‚ÄúI feel like I‚Äôm riding a little bit stronger and better than last year. I couldn‚Äôt be more tickled. I just want to keep the ball rolling the way it‚Äôs going.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs going pretty well for the cowboy who entered ProRodeo‚Äôs championship No. 15 in the world standings. He‚Äôs already moved up to 10th ‚Äď in rodeo, dollars equal points, and the cowboy with the most money at the conclusion of the NFR will be crowned world champion. Each of the last two seasons, the gold buckle has found a home in Utah with Payson cowboy Kaycee Feild; Bennett would like it to return, but with his name engraved on the wearable trophy.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm going to try to place in every round,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm going to try to make that a goal and hopefully get a couple more go-round buckles.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs what it takes. In order to do that, though, he‚Äôs going to continue to ride as well as he has the first two nights. On Friday, he put on a strong spur ride on Fancy Free, a horse he‚Äôd never seen before.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve seen a lot of guys win money on her,‚ÄĚ Bennett said of the bay mare. ‚ÄúI knew she could be a little more of a handful. On that third or fourth jump, I felt her try to pull on my. I realized this wasn‚Äôt going to be a day off and that I‚Äôd better take care of business.‚ÄĚ
He did. He made a few in-ride adjustments that worked.
‚ÄúWhen you feel a horse pull on you, I just automatically squeeze my hand a little harder, grit my teeth a little more and spur a little bit harder,‚ÄĚ he said.
He may have to do that Saturday in the third round, when he is matched against Frontier Rodeo‚Äôs Delta Ship.
‚ÄúI got on him last year at the NFR, and he dang near bucked me off,‚ÄĚ Bennett said. ‚ÄúI owe him one, so this is revenge.‚ÄĚ
Call it revenge or call it confidence, but Bennett is out to make a statement in Las Vegas.
LAS VEGAS ‚Äď Bray Armes has been to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo before, and he understands the pressure and the fireworks that come with playing on ProRodeo‚Äôs biggest stage.
Now in his second straight qualification to the NFR, he recalls just how nervous he was last December when he walked into the Thomas & Mack Center for the first time as one of the top cowboys in the game. He didn‚Äôt realize, however, that those nerves would return with him.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt think I was near as nervous on the first night this year as I was last year,‚ÄĚ said Armes, the 14th-ranked steer wrestler from Ponder, Texas. ‚ÄúIf you don‚Äôt walk into that building and not get wound up, then something is wrong. I just didn‚Äôt control it on the first night.‚ÄĚ
That changed Friday during the second go-round. Armes grappled his steer to the ground in 5.3 seconds to finish sixth on the night, collecting $3,005.
‚ÄúI felt like the second night, I was still kind of charged up and ready to go, but I controlled it,‚ÄĚ he said.
It worked out quite well. A year ago during his first trip to the NFR, Armes didn‚Äôt find the pay window until the third round. He‚Äôs hoping that momentum is the key to success.
‚ÄúMy steer was supposed to be the hardest running steer, but my horse got me there and helped me out,‚ÄĚ he said of Ote, a palomino now owned by fellow NFR steer wrestler Matt Reeves. ‚ÄúI missed the barrier a little, and my horse ran him down.‚ÄĚ
A bulldogger‚Äôs best friend is the horse he rides, and it looks like the palomino is a good fit.
‚ÄúI need to get a little better start, but I think it‚Äôll take off,‚ÄĚ Armes said. ‚ÄúThe nice thing about that horse is that you don‚Äôt have to worry about being able to catch one because they run too hard, because I know Ote would get him caught.‚ÄĚ
During Saturday‚Äôs third round, Armes will be one of several NFR contestants wearing Gold for Childhood Cancer Awareness in honor of a boy name Taylor Tornado, who is fighting neuroblastoma. Armes hopes to bring awareness to the cause while also chasing his gold buckle dreams in Las Vegas. He knows, though, that the next eight days will feature a great race for the 2013 world championship.
‚ÄúBulldogging is so tight; I think it‚Äôs going to be a great race,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúAs of right now, the world title is anybody‚Äôs to grab. We‚Äôve got eight more nights, and you can win $18,000 more each night; I think it‚Äôs anybody‚Äôs game.‚ÄĚ
LAS VEGAS ‚Äď To be one of the elite saddle bronc riders in the world, cowboys must be able to handle any kind of horse.
On Friday night during the second round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, they were tested by the nastiest bucking beasts in the game ‚Äď horses that are so hard to ride, they‚Äôre called eliminators. How tough were the broncs? Of the 15 guys in the competition, only six stayed on for the qualifying eight seconds.
Cort Scheer was one of them, riding through the rank moves of Rafter H Rodeo‚Äôs Spade for 87 points to finish in second place in the go-round. He won $14,724, pushing his NFR earnings to $25,841 ‚Äď that‚Äôs the most of any bronc rider competing in Las Vegas. More importantly, the Elsmere, Neb., cowboy has moved to the No. 3 spot in the world standings with eight rounds remaining.
‚ÄúI was real happy with the way it turned out,‚ÄĚ said Scheer, who mounted Spade for the first time in his career. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve seen that horse a lot. I‚Äôve seen him rip bareback riders‚Äô arms off. I was dang sure nervous as heck. You just have to get through those first moves at the start. Once you do, I know he‚Äôs really good.
‚ÄúHe feels really good, but he‚Äôs hard to get started on.‚ÄĚ
Spade has the early moves that tend to push a cowboy‚Äôs stirrups back, which gives the horse a big advantage. Oftentimes when bronc riders buck off, it‚Äôs because their feet slip back behind them, and they are bucked off over the top of the big black horse. Scheer, though, took care of business.
‚ÄúI believe you can ride anything,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs about getting your mind right. Whatever doubts you have in your mind, you just have to throw it out.
‚ÄúWhen you get to the eliminator pen, they‚Äôre huge, fire-breathing rascals, so to get through that night the way we did was awesome.‚ÄĚ
Placing in the first two rounds of ProRodeo‚Äôs grand finale is a great way to start the rugged 10-day championship. The key, though, is to keep that momentum going forward.
‚ÄúHonestly the key is not even thinking about it,‚ÄĚ Scheer said. ‚ÄúYou just don‚Äôt think about what‚Äôs going on. It gets a little redundant, but you just ride each horse the best you can and see what happens. I just try to relax and take it a day at a time. I know it‚Äôs clich√©, but if you can do that, you add just a little fuel to the fire.‚ÄĚ
The fire already is burning brightly for Scheer.