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LAS VEGAS ‚Äď How focused is bareback rider Caleb Bennett?
‚ÄúI go to bed thinking about making a statement with my riding,‚ÄĚ said Bennett, now in his second straight qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. ‚ÄúI go to bed thinking about great bucking horses and riding great bucking horses. I wake up, and I think about it all day long.
‚ÄúThoughts become things, and I just picture myself winning go-rounds and drawing great horses and winning lots of money.‚ÄĚ
He‚Äôs right, because thoughts are becoming things. On Tuesday night, Bennett matched moves with Three Hills Rodeo‚Äôs Peaches N Cream for 84 points to finish as the runner-up in the sixth go-round. He added $14,724 to his NFR earnings, which have reached $46,575.
‚ÄúThree Hills brought a great horse,‚ÄĚ said Bennett, who has placed five of six nights, including the victory in Round 1. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs another one I‚Äôve never been on, and I‚Äôve wanted to get on her and have watched her for years. I really thought that was the one to win the round on tonight. She‚Äôs very consistent, the same trip every time.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs been a special week for the Utah cowboy, who has moved from 15th to sixth in the world standings and is the No. 1 man in the average race ‚Äď his six-ride cumulative score of 497 points is just half a point better than another Utah bronc buster, two-time reigning world champion Kaycee Feild.
‚ÄúRight now I‚Äôm just trying to keep a level head,‚ÄĚ Bennett said. ‚ÄúI just keep thinking about the good ones and hope that they‚Äôre by my name every time and try to ride them the best I can.‚ÄĚ
Cowboys are matched with their livestock by a blind draw, and the NFR features 100 of the very best bareback horses in the game. It takes equal parts of quality horse and a quality ride to make for big scores.
‚ÄúI am humbled,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThis is unreal. I read a deal that Wade (Sundell) said that he was far enough down that he had nothing to lose, so he was just going to make a statement here.‚ÄĚ
So he visited with traveling partner J.R. Vezain of Cowley, Wyo., about those thoughts, then put them into his own words.
‚ÄúI know I‚Äôm 15th, and I know I squeaked in there,‚ÄĚ Bennett said. ‚ÄúI know a lot of guys aren‚Äôt really looking for me to do that good this year. I‚Äôm going to be like Wade, and I‚Äôm going to try to make a statement.‚ÄĚ
He is ‚Ä¶ to nearly $50,000 in six nights.
Vezain has been wearing a vest specially made by Ty Skiver, who is the step-father of another traveling partner, R.C. Landingham. Skiver made the vest in support of his wife and Landingham‚Äôs mother, Wendy Skiver. All the bareback riders will sign the vest, and it will be part of a raffle; tickets are being sold at the Barstow booth at Cowboy Christmas, and money raised will go to help with Wendy Skiver‚Äôs medical bills.
‚ÄúWe really want to help them as much as we can, and I think this is a great way to tie it all together,‚ÄĚ Bennett said.
1. Trevor Kastner on Corey & Lange Rodeo’s Wild Eyes, 88 points, $18,630; 2. J.W. Harris, 86, $14,724; 3. Cody Teel, 85.5, $11,118; 4. (tie) Chandler Bownds and Parker Breding and Tyler Smith, 85, $5,208 each.
LAS VEGAS ‚Äď Casey Colletti is pretty excited about his back-to-back go-round victories at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
‚ÄúI‚Äôd almost do a happy dance for you, but I‚Äôd probably hurt myself,‚ÄĚ said Colletti, 27, of Pueblo, Colo., who suffered a sprained MCL in his right knee during a rough get-off in the third round.
While he limps around Las Vegas, his bum knee doesn‚Äôt seem to bother Colletti on the back of the best bucking horses in the world. On Tuesday night, he posted an 86.5-point on J Bar J Rodeo‚Äôs Smack Daddy to win the sixth round. He cashed in another $18,630 and pushed his NFR earnings to $40,515.
‚ÄúI had her in San Angelo (Texas), and finished second in the long round,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúShe grew up. When I had her, she was about 200 pounds lighter and a little bit smaller. I was so tickled to have her. It was kind of an underdog, because a lot of guys didn‚Äôt know what she was. In the back of my head, I was going, ‚ÄėIf she does what she does, it‚Äôs going to be good.‚Äô
‚ÄúShe kind of bucked. She wasn‚Äôt super rank bucking, but she was phenomenal.‚ÄĚ
So was Colletti, who has credited the Justin Sportsmedicine Program for getting him ready to ride each night.
‚ÄúThe ride felt good,‚ÄĚ Colletti said. ‚ÄúWhat a bareback ride should feel like, hurt or unhurt, that‚Äôs just what it felt like.‚ÄĚ
It seems to be working so far.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs kind of a dream come true to me,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI just set my goals of other things when I get here, and one of the things was to win back-to-back go-round buckles.
‚ÄúShe jumped out and had a hard move to the right, which I did not expect that. All I was thinking was, ‚ÄėZing your feet because you‚Äôre not going to win not spurring her.‚Äô There are 15 of the best guys in the world trying to compete for go-rounds. I‚Äôm just going to try to win first every night.‚ÄĚ
1. Taylor Jacob, 13.37 seconds, $18,630; 2. Mary Walker, 13.64 seconds, $14,724; 3. Brittany Pozzi, 13.69, $11,118; 4. Sherry Cervi, 13.75, $7,813; 5. Fallon Taylor, 13.76, $4,808; 6. Lisa Lockhart and Christy Loflin, 13.87, $1,502 each.
Rookie Taylor Jacob posted a 13.37-second run on Tuesday night to win the sixth round and claim a new arena record, bettering the mark of Carlee Pierce, who posted a 13.46 in 2011.
1. Justin Maass, 7.2 seconds, $18,630; 2. Shane Hanchey, 7.3, $14,724; 3. (tie) Tyson Durfey and Clif Cooper, 7.4, $9,465 each 5. Tuf Cooper, 7.5, $4,808; 6. Shane Slack, 7.8, $3,005.
1. Jesse Wright on Stace Smith’s Goin’ South, 83.5, $18,630; 2. (tie) Chad Ferley and Taos Muncy, 82, $12,291 each; 4. (tie) Cole Elshere and Jacobs Crawley, 81, $6,310 each; 6. Tyler Corrington, 80, $3,005.
Trevor Brazile has won a record 19th world championship, clinching the all-around title Tuesday with a first-place finish in team roping with partner Patrick Smith.
1. Trevor Brazile and Patrick Smith, 4.8 seconds, $18,630; 2. Riley Minor/Brady Minor, 5.0, $14,724; 3. Nick Sartain/Rich Skelton, 5.2, $11,118; 4. Luke Brown/Kolin VonAhn, 5.4, $7,813; 5. Colby Lovell/Martin Lucero, 5.8, $4,808; 6. Drew Horner/Buddy Hawkins II, 5.9, $3,005.
1. Dean Gorsuch, 3.2 seconds, $18,630; 2. Tyler Pearson, 3.6, $14,724; 3. Dakota Eldrigde, 3.8, $11,118; 4. (tie) Wade Sumpter and Bray Armes and Hunter Cure, 3.9, $5,208 each.
1. Casey Colletti on J Bar J’s Smack Daddy, 86.5, $18,630; 2. Caleb Bennett, 84, $14,724; 3. Wes Stevenson, 83.5, $11,118; 4. Will Lowe, 83, $7,813; 5. J.R. Vezain, 82.5, $4,808; 6. (tie) Clint Cannon and Ryan Gray, 81.5, $1,502 each.
We’re moments away from the fireworks in anticipation of the sixth round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, and here are a few notes.
‚Äď It looks as though this is the last year the NFR will be telecast on GAC. The PRCA reported today the annual championship’s broadcasting home will move to CBS Sports.
‚Äď Steve Woolsey is expecting to ride tonight after suffering a pretty intimidating injury in Round 5. Woolsey was stepped on by Andrews Rodeo’s Strike Back and suffered a concussion and shoulder abrasions. Woolsey has a hoof-imprint type bruise on the back of his head.
LAS VEGAS ‚Äď Caleb Bennett has placed four times at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, and three came on the backs of Pete Carr‚Äôs Classic Pro Rodeo horses.
His most recent triumph came Monday night when he rode Scarlet‚Äôs Web for 86 points for a fourth-place finish in the fifth go-round. He earned $7,813 with the ride.
‚ÄúAll three of those horses have been really good,‚ÄĚ said Bennett, who won the opening round on Wise Guy, then placed sixth the next night on Fancy Free. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve been drawing really good, and I hope to keep it that way.‚ÄĚ
In rodeo, cowboys are matched with livestock based on a blind draw. Based on the 100-point scale, half the score goes to the animal for how well it performs, while the other half is attributed to how well the cowboy rides. In bareback riding, that involves spurring from the horse‚Äôs neck back to the rigging that is strapped to the animal‚Äôs back.
‚ÄúI‚Äôd never been on Scarlet‚Äôs Web before,‚ÄĚ said Bennett, 25, of Morgan, Utah. ‚ÄúI finally drew her, and guys win money on that horse every time they nod their head. I knew, once again, that I had a chance to win some money.
‚ÄúI almost got a little too worked up on her. I feel like my start wasn‚Äôt as good as I wanted, but I think I finished her well.‚ÄĚ
He did. A qualifying ride lasts eight seconds, and cowboys must make the most of every moment they have in the arena.
‚ÄúThe start I‚Äôm having to the NFR so far is great,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúJust to place in four rounds so far is amazing. I had some goals coming in, and I feel like those goals are starting to become a reality right now.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve still got five more rounds to go, so I‚Äôm going to try to take it a horse at a time.‚ÄĚ
It may be clich√©, but it‚Äôs the only way to approach this type of competition. At the halfway point of the NFR, Bennett has pocketed $31,851 and has moved up from 15th to ninth in the world standings.
‚ÄúI think I‚Äôm finally getting through the soreness that comes with this,‚ÄĚ Bennett said. ‚ÄúThe stiffness in my neck and back is pretty much gone, and I think the forearm pain and the elbow stuff will fade through. The Justin Sportsmedicine team has been working with me real hard to try to get ahead of that.‚ÄĚ
While he‚Äôs been matched with great horses much of his early performance at ProRodeo‚Äôs grand finale, Bennett also has been performing quite well. He‚Äôs scored a five-ride cumulative total of 413 points and is third in the average race. The average champion will earn a $47,776 bonus at the end of the NFR; should the Utah cowboy stay in third through remaining five rounds, he would add $30,649.
‚ÄúI think the key is just staying relaxed,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI think I‚Äôve been having a little bit more fun this year. I‚Äôve just been enjoying what I do because I love what I do. My goal here is to enjoy it and thrive off it.‚ÄĚ
LAS VEGAS ‚Äď The first time Tyler Corrington watched Big Bend Rodeo‚Äôs Kool Toddy, he wasn‚Äôt very old.
He was sitting in front of his family‚Äôs television in Hastings, Minn., watching the great bay mare buck at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. On Monday night during the 2013 championship‚Äôs fifth round, Corrington felt just what the bucking machine was like while on her back.
It must‚Äôve felt pretty good; the two danced across the Thomas & Mack Center‚Äôs dirt for 83 points to finish in a share of fifth place in the fifth round, adding $3,906 to his season earnings.
‚ÄúShe‚Äôs been around forever and has been right up there for bucking horse of the year two or three times,‚ÄĚ said Corrington, now in his second trip to the NFR. ‚ÄúShe‚Äôs been awesome forever.‚ÄĚ
The top bronc busters in the game know that, and they know a few other things about the horse. For instance, she has a tendency to hesitate when the chute gate opens, and the stalling delays the start; if she were to fail to leave the chute, the cowboy would then have to get on another horse. But that‚Äôs not what they want, because she‚Äôs that good when she‚Äôs in the arena.
‚ÄúShe has that stalling deal, and she sure wants your feet in the saddle; if you stay down in the saddle, she‚Äôs going to do the work for you,‚ÄĚ Corrington said, explaining that the horse leaps high into the air, then her front end will drop; on Monday night, the Minnesota cowboy kept pushing his feet forward to match his spur stroke with her bucking motion.
‚ÄúShe‚Äôs just real droppy and kind of quick. If you sit on your foot (because of the spurring motion back to the saddle) or make any kind of mistake, she‚Äôs going to drill you.‚ÄĚ
So how do the best cowboys in the game get through all of her early antics?
‚ÄúYou can‚Äôt mark her out too early,‚ÄĚ he said, referring to the rider‚Äôs start, where he must have the heels of his boots over the front of the horse‚Äôs shoulders. ‚ÄúYou know the stall is coming, and you just hope she gets out because she‚Äôs so good.‚ÄĚ
At the NFR‚Äôs halfway point, Corrington has earned $29,748 and has pushed his annual income to $127,674. He is fourth in the world standings.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm happy where I am right now,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThe last time I was here, I won $40,000 out of the whole deal, and I wasn‚Äôt sad leaving.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs such a great rodeo that you can‚Äôt complain about anything.‚ÄĚ
LAS VEGAS ‚Äď Too look at Jule Hazen, one recognizes quickly he is the epitome of a steer wrestler. He stands 6-feet-3 and weighs in at just shy of 250 pounds.
He needed every bit of it Monday night at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, where the burly bulldogger from Ashland, Kan., maneuvered his steer to the ground in 4.2 seconds, sharing second place in the fifth go-round with Luke Branquinho and adding nearly $13,000 to his season earnings.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs such a mental game, and this is what we do,‚ÄĚ said Hazen, now riding in Las Vegas for the third time in his career. ‚ÄúOn that steer, if you get in too big of a hurry, he‚Äôll get you set down on your rear and keep your head up. You‚Äôve just got to slow down and keep pulling.‚ÄĚ
It was the second run for the stronger set of steers, and Hazen knew he was going to be in a battle from the start. What he didn‚Äôt expect is that the steer left the chute a little slower, so the cowboy had to use all the horsemanship skills his late grandfather, Richard Degnan, had shown him to make the run possible.
You see, Hazen started his great horse, Bam Bam, then had to slow the horse down so he didn‚Äôt break the barrier and suffer a 10-second penalty for not allowing the steer an appropriate head start.
‚ÄúWhen you pull on the reins on a horse that runs like that in a little building, and your horse still lets you be 4.2, that‚Äôs telling you‚Äôre your horse is pretty special,‚ÄĚ Hazen said. ‚ÄúThe first time these steers were out, I gave it all I had, and it still wasn‚Äôt enough. This time maybe I drew a little better and reached down and found a little more.‚ÄĚ
Through five nights of ProRodeo‚Äôs championship, Hazen has the best cumulative time of 22.2 seconds to lead the average by more than a second over the runner-up, Nevadan Dakota Eldridge; he also has pocketed $27,344. That helps make his Las Vegas experience a little more fun, but more importantly, it helps with the financial costs that come with the game.
‚ÄúWith the help of Boot Hill Casino, it helps me with my fuel and other expenses,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúUntil I had a sponsor like that, there were times I was winning $5,000-$6,000 a week, and it wasn‚Äôt paying my bills. Whatever you win here, that‚Äôs what you make in a year.
‚ÄúBoot Hill Casino has taken the pressure off. I think it‚Äôs helping my bulldogging here. I know I‚Äôm going to be making a little money with them behind me, so I just have to come in here and do my job. I have to win so I can put Pull-Ups on Joslyn.‚ÄĚ
Joslyn Hazen is 2 years old, and she has needs that Hazen wants to meet. It‚Äôs proof of where his priorities are.