Story courtesy of the PRCA
December 10, 2017
LAS VEGAS - Ahead of Saturday's Round 3 draw for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Polaris RANGER, there was plenty of hope among rodeo fans that bareback riding defending World Champion Tim O'Connell would be matched with reigning Bareback Horse of the Year C5 Rodeo's Virgil.
O'Connell himself prayed for a decent draw.
Everyone got what they wanted, and O'Connell made it count.
On a night when the bareback riding stock was as impressive as the riders aboard them, the reigning world champion tied the Thomas & Mack Center arena record by riding Virgil for 91.5 points on Saturday, Dec. 9, to cash in for $26,231.
"I was actually really relieved to be honest with you," said O'Connell, who has placed in each of the first three rounds. "We were sitting at dinner and it had been like an hour after they drew and it's the E-pen (Eliminator Pen Round). You're just sitting there and you're anticipating the draw sheet to come out, you're wondering, and you've got things running through your head. I remember I was just sitting there and I grabbed my cross and my wedding band that's around my neck. I just prayed to God to put me at ease and give me what I needed. He did exactly that. He gave me the world champion bucking horse."
O'Connell tied Justin McDaniel (2007), Bobby Mote (twice in 2008) and Will Lowe (2007) for the arena record.
O'Connell entered the WNFR with the largest lead of any cowboy in the WEATHER GUARD® PRCA World Standings. His win Saturday put him in first place in the aggregate scores in the race for the average title.
O'Connell tied for third in each of the first two rounds before winning Round 3. He wanted to be consistent at the Finals, and so far, so good.
"I want to be consistent every time I nod my head," said O'Connell. "I want the fans to know I'm the world champion. I've worked really, really hard to be the best in the world. I feel like the second one (title) will prove it."
O'Connell leads the world standings with $264,800. Tanner Aus is second with $170,138.
Kinsel shatters arena barrel racing record
Immediately after watching the arena record get broken, barrel racer Hailey Kinsel posted a blistering time of 13.11 seconds to set the Thomas & Mack arena record.
After two barrels, Kinsel knew something special might be happening.
"(My horse) Sister was a little different than normal tonight," Kinsel said. "She felt a little bit more focused than ever. I felt like she was going to do something good. I mean, I didn't know it was going to be that good. She smoked the first barrel and then she smoked the second, and I sat up and rode my third good, so I can take a little credit there, but I let her work and I don't know what else to say. This is one night I sure won't forget."
Right before Kinsel's run, she watched Kassie Mowery finish in 13.36 to break the previous arena record of 13.37.
"I can't downplay what Kassie did," Kinsel said. "That was a smoking run. We know from record books that it was an awesome run. ... I mean, Ivy Conrado ran a 13.59 and any other night that might win the round. So, smoking runs by everybody. Hats off to the ground crew. They help us out a lot."
Bull riders Melancon, Kimzey tie with 91.5 points
In Cole Melancon's first trip to the WNFR he has his first round win. And he tied three-time defending World Champion Sage Kimzey to do it.
Melancon scored 91.5 points on Smith, Harper & Morgan's Hot and Ready, while Kimzey scored 91.5 on Rafter H Rodeo Livestock's Nose Bender to split the first-place winnings in Round 3.
"This is my first time here and my first win, and to ride one last night calmed my nerves a bit and then to get a 91.5 is awesome and something I'll never forget," Melancon said. "This is the biggest stage in rodeo, and to be a 91.5 at the Super Bowl is a great feeling."
Kimzey continues to sit atop the world standings. He tied for second on Friday before returning to tie for the win on Saturday. Kimzey has $291,575 in earnings for 2017.
"Oh, man, I'm blessed, and I started this year putting the work in and it's nice to see that hard work paying off," said Kimzey, who notched his first score of at least 90 points at the WNFR. "I work for everything I get, and this year is a prime example of that. I went to the most rodeos, besides Boudreaux Campbell, and got on 170 bulls and rode 65 percent of them and put on 50,000 miles (on the road) and had 50 airline tickets."
Kimzey was excited by breaking the 90-point threshold.
"This was my first time being 90 here, and the few opportunities I have had I let slip past me and this is pretty special for sure," he said.
Tying with Kimzey was perfectly fine for Melancon, who sits seventh in the world.
"Sage is known as one of the greatest bull riders going, and I see myself as one of the greatest ones too, to be here," Melancon said. "But to split it with Sage, it's a great feeling to be able to do it at my first NFR and be in the 90s."
Irwin posts top steer wrestling time of 2017 WNFR
Steer wrestler Kyle Irwin posted the fastest steer wrestling time of this year's WNFR after stopping the clock in 3.4 seconds in Round 3 on Saturday.
It also gave him the second most money won at the WNFR in steer wrestling with $49,558.
"I'm going to say it was the horse (Scooter) I was riding and the hazer (Tyler Pearson)," Irwin said. "That horse, Tyler (Pearson) and I are co-owners of him, and he was the (2017) horse of the year and he makes my job so much easier because I know he's going to do his job. We knew that steer tonight would be OK, but I had to get a good start and get my feet on the ground fast, and Scooter let me do that, and it all came together."
Scooter wasn't just a good horse for Irwin. He was the horse for the top four steer wrestlers of the night, helping Ty Erickson take second, Pearson third and Tyler Waguespack fourth.
"Scooter gets stronger with the second and third who ride him," Irwin said. "I was first out on him, and that just tells you how good he is. It's good to have those other guys riding him. It's fun. We compete against each other, and it's cool to see Scooter handle the pressure over and over again."
The win has Irwin in ninth place in the world standings with $129,242.
Erickson continues to lead with $193,883.
Brown and Long heating up in team roping
A night after team ropers Luke Brown and Jake Long got on the board with a fifth-place finish, they came right back with a win in 3.9 seconds.
The win has them finding their timing.
"We've roped so much and we've practiced for this," Brown said. "There's one other team I know that practiced just as hard as we did, and honestly, I think we did everything we needed to do before we came here and we're going to stick to what we do."
Brown was able to hook the steer early and turn him for Long, setting them up for the win.
"Well, anytime you see (Luke) get it on one that fast, you know the ball's in your court and you don't ever want to miss that shot, because it's a layup to win first," Long said.
The win gives header Brown $154,611 for the 2017 season and heeler Long $146,082, good for fourth place in the world standings for each of them.
Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira lead the world standings, with Driggers atop the headers with $183,535, and Nogueira leading heelers with $184,265.
Brown and Long are planning on continuing to do what's working for them and hope things work out when the 10th round ends.
"Luke is really solid, and one thing he told me was, if we make nine good runs like we've practiced, we'll win plenty of money and get out of here good," Long said.
Former world champ scores 87.5 to win saddle bronc riding
The 2015 saddle bronc riding World Champion Jacobs Crawley had yet to score through two rounds at the WNFR.
Then came Saturday night.
Crawley notched 87.5 points on Sutton Rodeos' South Point to win Round 3 and $26,231.
"It's been another great year as far as the regular season is concerned, so you hope to get hot and stay hot, and I caught a spark tonight," said Crawley, tops in the world standings.
The winning money gives Crawley $220,158 for the 2017 season. CoBurn Bradshaw is second with $186,577.
Crawley won the saddle bronc riding title in 2015, but the first two rounds of 2017 had been a struggle. That's not the case anymore.
"It means I got the monkey off my back and getting a nice check with a lot of opportunities is where I would like to be," he said. "Obviously, I would have liked to have done better last night, but I'm happy to be in this position."
He's not planning on doing anything differently as he continues to push for his second world title.
"... If you think about changing the plan based on a round win, I don't think it's a good idea," said the 29-year-old Texas cowboy. "I'm happy to get it and I'm ready for seven more."
Moore notches first round win of 2017 WNFR
Tie-down roper Timber Moore is no stranger to the WNFR after making this his sixth trip to the Finals in Las Vegas.
But last year Moore failed to place in any round.
On Saturday, he rectified that with a 7.1-second time and a first-place check worth $26,231.
"I came in second in the standings at the NFR last year and thought I had a good chance to win the world and nothing went my way and I had all kinds of trouble," Moore said. "This win feels really good to get some money, especially after the year I had last year at the NFR. This is a big confidence boost. The run was very good and I had a really good calf and I had a really good start."
The victory has Moore up to ninth place in the world standings.
Still leading the way is Tuf Cooper, who tied for fifth in Round 3, with $205,945. Cooper's brother-in-law, Trevor Brazile, is in second with $171,510 after placing third on Saturday.
Brazile leading all-around, RAM Top Gun standings
Trevor Brazile moved into first place in the RAM Top Gun Award race after taking third in tie-down roping.
The finish gave Brazile $70,077 at the WNFR in the race for the most money won at the Finals.
It also gave him $313,837 in the standings for all-around cowboy, where he leads Tuf Cooper, who has $245,521.
Third Performance Results, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017
Bareback riding: 1. Tim O'Connell, 91.5 points on C5 Rodeo's Virgil (tied arena record), $26,231; 2. Richmond Champion, 89.5, $20,731; 3. Jake Vold, 87, $15,654; 4. Caleb Bennett, 86, $11,000; 5. R.C. Landingham, 84, $6,769; 6. Steven Dent, 83, $4,230; 7. Tanner Aus, 81.5; 8. Ty Breuer, 78.5; 9. J.R. Vezain, 78; 10. Orin Larsen, 73; 11. Wyatt Denny, 72.5; 12. Bill Tutor, 71; 13. Clayton Biglow, Jake Brown, Mason Clements, NS. Average standings: 1. Tim O'Connell, 263.5 points on three head; 2. Jake Vold, 261.5; 3. Richmond Champion, 258; 4. Caleb Bennett, 254; 5. R.C. Landingham 251; 6. Tanner Aus, 248.5. World standings: 1. Tim O'Connell, $264,800; 2. Tanner Aus, $170,138; 3. Jake Vold, $167,372; 4. Richmond Champion, $155,408; 5. Clayton Biglow, $138,153; 6. Orin Larsen, $134,202; 7. J.R. Vezain, $130,081; 8. Caleb Bennett, $129,793; 9. Jake Brown, $119,982; 10. Wyatt Denny, $119,353; 11. Steven Dent, $109,998; 12. Mason Clements, $109,441; 13. Bill Tutor, $106,039; 14. R.C. Landingham, $106,031; 15. Ty Breuer, $99,106.
Steer wrestling: 1. Kyle Irwin, 3.4 seconds, $26,230; 2. Ty Erickson, 3.7, $20,731; 3. Tyler Pearson, 4.0, $15,654; 4. (tie) Tyler Waguespack and Baylor Roche, 4.1, $8,885 each; 6. Rowdy Parrott, 4.3, $4,231; 7. Scott Guenthner, 4.5; 8. Jon Ragatz, 4.6; 9. Tanner Milan, 4.9; 10. (tie) Dakota Eldridge and Nick Guy, 5.0 each; 12. Ryle Smith, 5.1; 13. J.D. Struxness, 9.6; 14. Olin Hannum and Chason Floyd, NT. Average standings: 1. (tie) Tyler Pearson and Tyler Waguespack, 11.9 seconds on three head;3. Kyle Irwin, 12.3; 4. Jon Ragatz, 13.0; 5. Scott Guenthner, 13.3; 6. Ty Erickson, 13.7. World standings: 1. Ty Erickson, $193,883; 2. Tyler Pearson, $177,034; 3. Tyler Waguespack, $153,290; 4. Kyle Irwin, $129,242; 5. Olin Hannum, $120,951; 6. Tanner Milan, $120,304; 7. Baylor Roche, $118,224; 8. Scott Guenthner, $117,032; 9. Jon Ragatz, $108,198; 10. Ryle Smith, $103,463; 11. Nick Guy, $99,737; 12. Rowdy Parrott, $95,319; 13. J.D. Struxness, $93,973; 14. Dakota Eldridge, $90,981; 15. Chason Floyd, $88,723.
Team roping: 1. Luke Brown/Jake Long, 3.9 seconds, $26,231 each; 2. Jr. Dees/Tyler McKnight, 4.1, $20,731; 3. Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira, 4.2, $13,327; 3. Garrett Rogers/Jake Minor, 4.2, $13,327; 5. Clay Smith/Paul Eaves, 4.9, $6,769; 6. Erich Rogers/Cory Petska, 9.1, $4,231; 7. Coleman Proctor/Billie Jack Saebens, 9.4; 8. Riley Minor/Brady Minor, 9.5; 9. Dustin Egusquiza/Kory Koontz, 9.6; 10. Chad Masters/Travis Graves, 10.3; 11. Cody Snow/Wesley Thorp, Dustin Bird/Russell Cardoza, Clay Tryan/Jade Corkill, Tom Richards/Jeremy Buhler, Charly Crawford/Joseph Harrison, NT. Average standings: 1. Clay Smith/Paul Eaves, 14.1 seconds on three head; 2. Jr. Dees/Tyler McKnight, 17.7; 3. Erich Rogers/Cory Petska, 19.2; 4. Chad Masters/Travis Graves, 21.1; 5. Riley Minor/Brady Minor, 23.8; 6. Kaleb Driggers/ Junior Nogueira, 30.50. World standings: (headers) 1. Kaleb Driggers, $183,535; 2. Clay Smith, $161,171; 3. Erich Rogers, $156,827; 4. Luke Brown, $154,611; 5. Jr. Dees, $130,425; 6. Dustin Bird, $114,519; 7. Charly Crawford, $113,821; 8. Riley Minor, $110,818; 9. Coleman Proctor, $108,033; 10. Chad Masters, $99,739; 11. Garrett Rogers, $98,940; 12. Dustin Egusquiza, $98,437; 13. Tom Richards, $91,415; 14. Clay Tryan, $91,383; 15. Cody Snow, $89,236. (heelers) 1. Junior Nogueira, $184,265; 2. Paul Eaves, $165,289, 3. Cory Petska, $156,827; 4. Jake Long, $146,082; 5. Russell Cardoza, $136,004; 6. Tyler McKnight, $130,835; 7. Billie Jack Saebens, $120,930; 8. Joseph Harrison, $118,063; 9. Brady Minor, $110,818; 10. Travis Graves, $106,649; 11. Jake Minor, $98,940; 12. Kory Koontz, $95,652; 13. Jade Corkill, $91,383; 14. Wesley Thorp, $90,836; 15. Jeremy Buhler, $78,006.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Jacobs Crawley, 87.5 points on Sutton Rodeos' South Point, $26,231; 2. Ryder Wright, 87, $20,731; 3. Taos Muncy, 85.5, $15,654; 4. (tie) CoBurn Bradshaw, Hardy Braden, Heith DeMoss and Audy Reed, 84, $5,500 each; 8. Layton Green, 83.5; 9. Sterling Crawley, 83; 10. Brody Cress, 82.5; 11. Clay Elliott, 82; 12. (tie) Zeke Thurston and Jake Wright, 79.5 each; 14. Jesse Wright, 78.5; 15. Cody DeMoss, NS. Average standings: 1. CoBurn Bradshaw, 260.5 points on three head; 2. Sterling Crawley, 246; 3. Brody Cress, 244.5; 4. Jake Wright, 241; 5. Audy Reed, 240; 6. Taos Muncy, 233. World standings: 1.Jacobs Crawley, $220,158; 2. CoBurn Bradshaw, $186,577; 3. Zeke Thurston, $184,122; 4. Cody DeMoss, $151,657; 5. Ryder Wright, $145,746; 6. Hardy Braden, $144,504; 7. Brody Cress, $131,319; 8. Sterling Crawley, $123,723; 9. Layton Green, $120,613; 10. Taos Muncy, $116,171; 11. Heith DeMoss, $107,780; 12. Jake Wright, $107,527; 13. Clay Elliott, $99,332; 14. Audy Reed, $97,918; 15. Jesse Wright, $86,630.
Tie-down roping: 1. Timber Moore, 7.1 seconds, $26,231; 2. Cooper Martin, 7.2, $20,731; 3. Trevor Brazile, 7.3, $15,654; 4. Matt Shiozawa, 7.4, $11,000; 5. (tie) Tuf Cooper and Cade Swor, 7.9, $5,500 each; 7. Marcos Costa, 8.0; 8. Tyson Durfey, 8.2; 9. J.C. Malone, 8.7; 10. Marty Yates, 9.4; 11. Cory Solomon, 9.7; 12. Randall Carlisle, 10.1; 13. Shane Hanchey, 10.5; 14. Ryan Jarrett, 19.2; 15. Caleb Smidt, NT. Average standings: 1. Trevor Brazile, 22.60 seconds on three head; 2. Cade Swor, 23.70; 3. Marcos Costa, 24.00; 4. Tyson Durfey, 26.00; 5. (tie) Tuf Cooper and Cooper Martin, 26.30 each. World standings: 1. Tuf Cooper, $205,945; 2. Trevor Brazile, $171,510; 3. Marcos Costa, $165,748; 4. Caleb Smidt, $156,425; 5. Shane Hanchey, $138,729; 6. Cade Swor, $132,691; 7. Ryan Jarrett, $132,286; 8. Tyson Durfey, $124,192; 9. Timber Moore, $122,193; 10. Cooper Martin, $116,169; 11. Matt Shiozawa, $114,363; 12. Marty Yates, $107,173; 13. Cory Solomon, $106,210; 14. J.C. Malone, $103,068; 15. Randall Carlisle, $95,566.
Barrel racing: 1. Hailey Kinsel, 13.11 seconds (new arena record), $26,231; 2. Kassie Mowry, 13.36, $20,731; 3. Amberleigh Moore, 13.57, $15,654; 4. Ivy Conrado, 13.59, $11,000; 5. Nellie Miller, 13.66, $6,769; 6. Lisa Lockhart, 13.67, $4,231; 7. Taci Bettis, 13.68; 8. Kathy Grimes, 13.70; 9. Stevi Hillman, 13.84; 10. Tiany Schuster, 14.20; 11. Kellie Collier, 14.58; 12. Tillar Murray, 18.76; 13. Sydni Blanchard, 18.90; 14. Kimmie Wall, 18.95; 15. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 19.18. Average standings: 1.Hailey Kinsel, 40.45 seconds on three runs; 2. Nellie Miller, 41.04; 3. Ivy Conrado, 41.38; 4. Kathy Grimes, 41.45; 5. Lisa Lockhart, 41.61. 6. Tiany Schuster, 42.37. World standings: 1. Tiany Schuster, $260,378; 2. Stevi Hillman, $195,952; 3. Nellie Miller, $184,537; 4. Amberleigh Moore, $172,691; 5. Kassie Mowry, $166,624; 6. Hailey Kinsel, $166,245; 7. Kathy Grimes, $132,785; 8. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, $123,660; 9. Lisa Lockhart, $110,685; 10. Sydni Blanchard, $108,131; 11. Taci Bettis, $107,023; 12. Ivy Conrado, $103,412; 13. Tillar Murray, $102,789; 14. Kellie Collier, $97,569; 15. Kimmie Wall, $86,294.
Bull riding: 1. (tie) Sage Kimzey on Rafter H Rodeo's Nose Bender and Cole Melancon on Smith, Harper & Morgan's Hot and Ready, 91.5 points, $26,231 each; 3. Trey Benton III, 87, $18,404; 4. Ty Wallace, 86.5, $13,750; 5. Garrett Smith, Joe Frost, Tim Bingham, Jordan Spears, Dustin Bowen, Jordan Hansen, Roscoe Jarboe, Trevor Reiste, Guthrie Murray, Brennon Eldred, Boudreaux Campbell, NS. Average standings: 1. Trey Benton III, 262.5 on three head; 2. Sage Kimzey, 257; 3. Garrett Smith, 172.5 on two head; 4. Joe Frost, 170.5; 5. Cole Melancon, 170; 6. Roscoe Jarboe, 87 on one head. World standings: 1. Sage Kimzey, $291,575; 2. Garrett Smith, $253,797; 3. Ty Wallace, $180,827; 4. Trey Benton III, $176,106; 5. Joe Frost, $155,925; 6. Jordan Spears, $141,423; 7. Cole Melancon, $144,081; 8. Roscoe Jarboe, $133,586; 9. Tim Bingham, $129,515; 10. Jordan Hansen, $109,429; 11. Trevor Reiste, $107,121; 12. Dustin Bowen, $104,668; 13. Brennon Eldred, $102,991; 14. Boudreaux Campbell, $102,294; 15. Guthrie Murray, $97,288.
All-around world standings: 1.Trevor Brazile, $313,837; 2. Tuf Cooper, $245,522; 3. Junior Nogueira, $185,987; 4. Caleb Smidt, $166,221; 5. Erich Rogers, $151,880; 6. Ryle Smith, $150,876; 7. Russell Cardoza, $149,026; 8. Dakota Eldridge, $114,200; 9. Josh Peek, $105,470.