LAS VEGAS, NEV - December 2, 2016
After an opening round that saw three events won by first time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifiers (Pamela Capper in the barrel race, 18 year-old Ryder Wright in the bronc riding and Canadians Levi Simpson and Jeremy Buhler in team roping)—round two featured a pair of four-legged superstars from the north side of the 49th parallel as the best of the Canadian contingent.
In a sensational round of bronc riding that featured the eliminator pen, the eighteen year-old Utah sensation, Ryder Wright, did it again, this time with an 86 score on the three time Saddle Bronc of the Year in Canada (including 2016), Northcott-Macza’s Get Smart.
“I’d never been on him but I’d seen him with my dad a couple of years ago here,” the youngest of the five Wrights at this WNFR commented. “He tried to buck me off every jump but I managed to sneak by him.”
The back to back wins have moved the teenage talent from 14th place coming into the Finals all the way to 4th place with over $133.000 won.
Eight one hundredths of a second doesn’t seem like a long time but when you’re on the back of the Beutler and Son bronc, Killer Bee, it’s awful close to an eternity. Big Valley’s Zeke Thurston won Tucson in 2015 on the great gelding with 90 points but this time it was the horse’s turn with the stopwatch showing 7.92 seconds when the two time WNFR qualifier hit the ground. It was a happier story for Hudson Hope, BC’s Jake Watson as he posted an 83 on Frontier Rodeo’s Tip Off to take home the fourth place cheque of $11,000. The third Canadian bronc rider, Nanton’s Clay Elliott, who just a few weeks ago claimed his first Canadian bronc riding title, finished out of the money in round two with a 75.5 point ride on Pickett Rodeo’s Faded Memories. And another of the Wright clan, Jake, placed 5th in the round with an 80.5 point ride on the Calgary Stampede’s Tiger Warrior.
And to cap off a great night for Canadian stock contractors, Wayne Vold’s spectacular yellow bull, Cooper’s Comet, carried Roscoe Jarboe of New Plymouth, Idaho to a whopping 88.5 score to top the field in the bull riding. The bull had a great trip and the watch read exactly 8.0 seconds when the Idaho cowboy hit the ground. The 88.5 score is the highest to date at this year’s Finals and a Thomas and Mack packed house roared its approval when the score was announced.
The two Canadian rough stock successes meant that two of the three go-round winner buckles went to Canadian stock contractors.
In the bareback riding, season leader Tim O’Connell of Zwingle, Iowa added to his season lead, splitting the round with California cowboy and 2016 Medicine Hat Stampede Champion Clayton Biglow, both recording 85 points. Canadians Jake Vold and Orin Larsen struggled in the round—Vold posting a 69.5 on Frontier Rodeo’s Senora and Larsen managing a 73 score on Beutler and Sons What Happens.
The Canadian team roping pair of Simpson and Buhler added a sixth place cheque to their first round win - posting a 4.9 to pocket $4230 a man. Second in the round were 2016 defending Canadian Champions, Dustin Bird and Russell Cardoza; the $20,732 cheque moved Bird, the Cutbank, Montana header, to #1 in the world All-Around standings.
In the steer wrestling, it was the 2013 PRCA Resistol Rookie of the Year Jason Thomas, a Benton, Arkansas bulldogger, smoking a 3.5 second run to capture the round. And Brazilian tie down roper Marcos Costa turned in a 7.6 second run to edge veteran Cade Swor by a tenth of a second for the go-round win.
On a night that featured nine runs under 14 seconds, the fastest of the fast was Utah cowgirl, Kimmie Wall, with a blistering 13.79.