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LAS VEGAS â€“ Cort Scheer entered the 2014 National Finals Rodeo with hopes of a world championship.
Instead, he pocketed more than $93,000 over the 10 days of ProRodeoâ€™s grand championship event and left Las Vegas with a big piece of disappointment. How can that be?
He needed $10,000 more.
Instead, he finished the season No. 2 in the world standings with $195,586, $9,800 behind world champion Spencer Wright of Milford, Utah. It was a fantastic finish for the gold buckle, and it came down to the final round to decide the champion.
Scheer, 28, of Elsmere, Neb., placed in five go-rounds, including a first-round victory. He also finished second in the average behind Wright â€“ they were the only two men to ride all 10 horses; it marked the second straight season Scheer finished second in the average and rode all 10 broncs at the NFR. By finishing with 764 cumulative points, he added $39,537 in average money.
Scheer, who attended Montana State University, Garden City (Kan.) Community College and Oklahoma Panhandle State University on rodeo scholarships, had a strong NFR. The main difference between first and second was their payoffs in the average. Still Wright â€“ who brought his bronc riding family their fourth gold buckle, joining big brothers Cody (2) and Jesse â€“ earned more than $145,000 in Sin City.
None of that takes away from the exceptional season Scheer had in 2014. In the PRCA alone, he had eight event titles, including big-rodeo victories in Pendleton, Ore., and Denver. He also added championships at Cinch Shoot-Outs throughout the season.
That all added up to a great way to make a living on the backs of bucking horses. But thatâ€™s what fans have come to expect of Scheer, who has been among the top 5 in the final world standings each of the past two seasons. He has consistently been one of ProRodeoâ€™s elite bronc riders â€“ the only season in which he hasnâ€™t made the NFR came in 2011 when he suffered a knee injury and finished 25th.
Where he goes from here remains to be seen, but heâ€™s proven a gold buckle is within reach.
Now he just needs to grasp it.
CLAREMORE, Okla. â€“ David Petty was in shock and couldnâ€™t think of the words to say; his wife, Dawn, couldnâ€™t stop crying. Bob Morton just grinned and took it all in.
Their hearts and souls â€“ countless man-hours â€“ have gone into the labor of love they call the Will Rogers Stampede. Claremoreâ€™s rodeo had just been named the 2014 small rodeo of the year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, determined by a vote of the organizationâ€™s membership and announced during the PRCAâ€™s annual awards banquet on Dec. 3 in Las Vegas, held in conjunction with the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
â€śThis is a tremendous honor for us,â€ť said Petty, chairman of the volunteer committee that organizes the rodeo every Memorial Day weekend. â€śWe have a small group of people who work really hard every year to put on this rodeo for our community.
â€śTwo years ago, we hired Pete Carr and his crew to produce the rodeo, and thatâ€™s made a major difference in the rodeo. It feels like all our years of hard work are paying off, and the people of Rogers County and surrounding areas can enjoy a world-class rodeo right here in Claremore, Oklahoma. Itâ€™s humbling to share this national spotlight with the Daddy of â€™em All, Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days, and rodeos like Deadwood (S.D.) Days and the San Antonio Stock Show.â€ť
PRCA members felt the same way. Rodeos are classified in four categories: small, medium, large and large indoor. The small-rodeo category encompasses more than 400 PRCA rodeos nationwide and allows the smaller committees to be judged with events of the same size.
â€śWeâ€™ve been blessed to have produced that rodeo the last couple of years,â€ť said Pete Carr, owner of Pete Carr Pro Rodeo. â€śThatâ€™s one of the hardest working committees in rodeo, and Iâ€™m glad to see they were recognized this year. Those people have earned that award.â€ť
Carr was nominated for stock contractor of the year, while other pieces of the 2014 Stampede also were recognized: Sandy Gwatney was nominated for secretary of the year, while entertainer John Harrison earned the Coors Man in the Can and the Comedy Act of the Year awards.
Days later, Miss Rodeo Oklahoma Lauren Heaton became the first Oklahoma cowgirl to be crowned Miss Rodeo America; she, too, was part of the pageantry that is the Will Rogers Stampede.
â€śClaremore was part of my 10-day Oklahoma run,â€ť she said. â€śThatâ€™s such a great rodeo that had John and Sandy Gwatney working with Pete Carr; all three of them are working the finals. John Harrison was the clown there.
â€śThat shows me that Claremore is putting on a phenomenal rodeo. They know what they need to do and where they need to be headed. Iâ€™m really excited to see Claremore win that award.â€ť