Rough Stock Events – Bareback, Saddle Bronc and Bull Riding:
Casey Colletti used his 2011 Cheyenne Frontier Days championship in the bareback riding to propel him to his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He hopes to repeat that title with two solid rides here this week. Six of the current top 15 will be competing over the next two days in the bareback riding. Wyatt Denny is coming off a big win from the Days of 47 Rodeo on Monday, where he won $50,000 to move him to second in the world standings. Clayton Biglow, Wyatt’s traveling partner, is also on winning streak. He was first at California Rodeo in Salinas on Sunday, putting him seventh in the world standings.
Also, watch for former college champs, Tilden Hooper and Ty Breuer. Hooper is sitting 26th in the standings and with success on two head could move into a qualifying spot for the NFR, while Breuer is currently 13th in the standings and hoping to move into a more secure position for a chance at a gold buckle.
The Wright family is a dominant force in the saddle bronc riding with seven family members who have been to the NFR competing today. Brothers Cody, Jesse, Jake, Spencer and Alex, along with their brother-in-law, Coburn Bradshaw, will be joined by Cody’s sons Rusty and Ryder. Alex has yet to compete at the NFR. Five of the Wrights and Bradshaw are in the top 15 in the world standings. Bradshaw, a former College National Finals Rodeo champion, was the PRCA Resistol Saddle Bronc Riding Rookie of the Year in 2015.
Canada’s Clay Elliot is also trying to secure his second NFR berth. Elliott owns Gold Spring Custom Hats in his hometown of Nanton, Alberta. After his mom Mona died in 2010, Clay and his family set up Mona’s Cowboy Inspirational Fund to help ranching and rodeo families who experience life-changing illnesses or disabilities.
Ty Wallace is third in the bull riding world standings. Wallace won Nampa, Idaho’s Snake River Stampede and continues to crawl up the world standings. He’s has drawn Dakota Rodeo’s Crossfire, who has yet to be ridden this year. Today’s performance also features Joe Frost, who is just behind Wallace in the standings, and Tim Bingham, who is sixth.
Timed Events – Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, Tie-Down Roping and Barrel Racing:
Oakdale, California’s Ryle Smith, just jumped from a little over $27,000 in earnings this year and around 27th in the standings to more than $77,000 in steer wrestling earnings after winning the Days of 47 Rodeo in Salt Lake City. He is now third in the PRCA all-around standings will compete here in steer wrestling and tie-down roping. Smith and his wife, Nika are new parents to their month-old daughter, Remy Nicole. J.D. Struxness, the defending CFD champion at age 22, would love to win his favorite rodeo again. No steer wrestler has won back to back CFD titles since California’s John W. Jones did it in 1988 and 1989 A win from CFD would also help Struxness move into the top 15. (He’s 19th now.) Struxness won the college championship for Northwestern Oklahoma State University in 2016. His college rodeo coach and fellow NFR competitor, Stockton Graves will also compete tomorrow and will likely be doing the hazing for Struxness.
The tie-down roping has a tough group competing in the fifth and sixth performances. All the contestants are in the top 45 of the PRCA world standings. Five of them are sitting in the top 15, including reigning world champion Tyson Durfey, but none of them have won a CFD championship.
Several CFD team roping champions will compete today. 2015 CFD champion header Luke Brown will be roping with Jake Long. Long’s horse, Zans Colonel Shine, won the prestigious 2016 American Quarter Horse Association heeling horse of the year award. Brown currently is third in the heading world standings and Long is fourth in the heeling standings. Tyler Wade and Dakota Kirchenschlager are ready to defend their 2016 CFD championship, but there is a catch. They each are roping with new partners this year. Wade will be heading for Clint Summers. Kirchenschlager will be heeling for Jake Cooper.
Reigning world all-around champion Junior Nogueira will be heeling behind Kaleb Driggers today. Nogueira is the first Brazilian to win a world title in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
Women’s Professional Rodeo Association cowgirls are ready to turn and burn in tomorrow’s barrel race with four competitors sitting in the top 20 in the world standings. Kassie Mowry is the number three cowgirl in the world standings. Amy Wilson, a Kansas native who lives in Springfield, Tenn., is a former Miss Rodeo America and the host of RFD-TV’s Western Sports Roundup. The best opportunity for all of today’s competitors to win a check here is today in the second round.