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Wright takes world standings lead with record ride

by Matt Naber | Dec 14, 2017

LAS VEGAS – There’s just something about the bright lights of Las Vegas that Ryder Wright loves. 

Wright won four straight rounds, and five total, during his inaugural trip to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Polaris RANGER in 2016. In his last five saddle bronc rides at this year’s event, the 19-year-old has three first-place finishes.

The latest came in impressive fashion Thursday night in front of 16,810 rodeo fans at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Wright scored 92 points aboard Powder River Rodeo’s Show Me Again – his first PRCA ride of at least 90 points – to win his third go-round of the 2017 WNFR.

Just as importantly, it moved him into first place in the WEATHER GUARD® PRCA World Standings with $247,285.

It also keeps him solidly in first place in the RAM Top Gun Award standings, given to the competitor who scores the most points in his event at the Finals. 

“Hopefully they (the rest of his rides) are just like this,” said Wright, who has made $147,923 at this year’s Finals. “At this time last year, I was struggling a bit, but I’ve been riding good all week and it definitely helps when you’re riding consistently. This game is 98 percent mental.”

In posting 92 points, Wright set the Round 8 record.

“That’s awesome, any record you set is cool,” said the Utah cowboy. “That’s crazy, I really don’t know what to say. … Let’s go break some more.”

Jacobs Crawley is in second place in the world standings with $226,927.

Team ropers Brown/Long tie with Tryan/Corkill

Team ropers Luke Brown and Jake Long stopped the clock in 4.1 seconds to tie with Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill to win team roping in Round 8.

More importantly, the first-place tie bumped Brown into first place in the world standings among team roping headers, while Long moved into second place in the team roping heeling world standings.

The win marked the fifth time in the 2017 Finals that Brown and Long placed, and the second time they had won a go-round.

“It’s been a blessed week so far,” Brown said. “It sure has been our week.”

The pair are hoping to keep things rolling over the last two nights.

“It’s been a great week,” Long said. “We started off kind of bad but we rallied and put ourselves in a good spot to make a lot of money.”

For the second time in four days, Tryan and Corkill found themselves at the top of the clock.

“It feels pretty good, really, especially since I thought I broke the barrier,” Tryan said. “The steer wasn’t very good, he kind of came left, so it was good to win the round. We lucked out tonight.”

The win put another $23,481 in each of the four winners’ pockets.

“We came in here with around $50,000, so I’m thinking more about making a living, and so now whatever happens I’m able to make a good living financially,” Corkill said.

Heeler Cory Petska moved into second first place in heeler standings after he and header Erich Rogers tied for third place in Round 8.

Canadian Hansen notches historic bull riding win

On Canada night, Canadian Jordan Hansen rode Corey & Lange Rodeo’s Tequila for 86 points, the win and a check for $28,981 after only four bull riders rode until the whistle.
The ride marked the first time since 2000 – Kagen Sirett in Round 6 – that a Canadian bull rider won a round at the WNFR.

That bit of patriotism had Hansen feeling good after his first Finals go-round win.

“I don’t think I could have picked a better night, especially having family here and it being Canada Night meant that much more,” said Hansen, of Okotoks, Alberta.

The win marked the third consecutive ride that saw Hansen place in the money and gives him $67,538 at the 2017 Finals.

“I’m at the point in my life now to save up and buy a house,” he said. “I’m trying to be smart with my money for once, but I’ll go have some fun tonight.”

The win also has Hansen in seventh place in the world standings and sixth in the average with 338 points on four head.

“Oh, you know, it’s a ‘let’s keep things rolling’ kind of thing,” he said. “I swapped ropes and it’s feeling awesome and I’m just excited for tomorrow. My other one was worn out and wasn’t feeling great, so I figured it was time to switch. Last time I used a new rope it worked out for me, and luckily it is now.”

Three-time defending world champion Sage Kimzey continues to lead in both the average (513.5 points on six head) and the world standings with $340,229.

Champion grabs second go-round bareback win

Richmond Champion notched the highest score of Round 8 on Thursday to win his second round of the 2017 WNFR, his first outright victory after splitting Round 2.

Champion scored 88 points on Hi Lo ProRodeo’s Pretty Woman, a horse he knew nearly nothing about.

Champion was extremely excited by his ride and result, saying he hadn’t expected that much success on Pretty Woman.

“The E-Pen is one of those rounds where you’re never comfortable,” Champion said. “You can feel as good as you want to, but those creatures, those horses are humbling. You’re not so much worried about the average or the score at all. You’re just wanting to win that fight. As you saw tonight, it’s a dogfight.”

Champion entered the Finals in ninth place in the world standings. That has changed over the course of the WNFR.

After winning $103,853, Champion finds himself up to second in the world and second in the race for the average.

“It’s unreal,” said Champion, of The Woodlands, Texas. “Like I said, you looked at the matchups on that sheet and to have it go the way it did is unreal. I’m bummed there are only two more nights of this because I’m having a blast.”

Champion still trails defending World Champion Tim O’Connell by about $93,000.

Floyd wrestles first go-round victory

In his first trip to the WNFR, Chason Floyd has his first go-round victory.

Floyd, 29, won the steer wrestling in 3.7 seconds to earn $26,231.

“It was a dream come true to make it here,” Floyd said, “and then to win a round, words can’t express how happy I feel.”

The Buffalo, S.D., cowboy won by 0.1 seconds. It was the third time he’s placed through eight rounds, his previous best being second place in Round 4.

After the fifth round, Floyd opted to switch horses, and he’s stuck with it since Round 6.

“They were both Sean Mulligan’s horses, but I switched to the back-up horse, Miss Kitty, and she’s feeling good,” Floyd said. “She just felt great. I was using Sean’s horse Holly in the first five rounds, and I just wanted to change some stuff up. Jon Ragatz is still riding Holly here.”

Floyd had been trying to take in the entire experience of the WNFR and Las Vegas.

“Unless you’re here, it’s hard to describe, it’s unreal,” he said. “It’s so cool to be a part of the lights and the electricity and the atmosphere. I’m just going to try and score sharp the final two rounds.”

Ty Erickson entered the WNFR with a lead in excess of $50,000. That lead is now less than $25,000, but he is in first place in the aggregate with 34.7 seconds on eight head.

Smidt and Solomon split tie-down roping go-round

Caleb Smidt and Cory Solomon each stopped the tie-down roping clock in 7.6 seconds to split Round 8 and get their first go-round wins of the 2017 Finals.

Both tie-down ropers had experienced a tough go of it through the first seven rounds. Smidt had placed in two rounds previously, while Solomon had placed in one.

“This feels awesome to get this win,” said Smidt, from Bellville, Texas. “It has been a rough week and it just seems like little things here, and they were keeping me from winning. I’m glad we finally got it all worked out.”

Solomon echoed his counterpart.

“It has been long week,” said Solomon, of Prairie View, Texas. “You’re roping against the best guys in the world and you have to have a good calf if you want to win good in the round, and every night I’ve come here with the one I would not prefer to run. It’s tough to wait to the next night to try and win because everybody ropes so hard. Tonight, I didn’t necessarily want the draw I had, but it worked out good.”

Solomon tried to put the early results behind him and focus on the task ahead.

“It’s tough, but I try and stay positive no matter what, but the Finals, that’s tough because this is what everybody watches,” Solomon said. “We put our heart and soul in all year, and we go up and down the road. It’s a little late (in the WNFR), but things are coming together.”

Tuf Cooper continues to lead the world standings with $247,406.

Moore wins third barrel racing round of ’17

Barrel racer Amberleigh Moore notched the trifecta, winning her third go-round of the 2017 Finals in 13.54 seconds, putting her over the $100,000 mark in winnings at this year’s WNFR.

Aboard her horse, Paige, Moore won her third go-round in the last seven.

“With all three go-round buckles I’ve won here this year, they have all been really close in the 13.5’s,” Moore said. “So, this has been pretty consistent for Paige.”

Moore and Paige continued to dominate in Round 8.

“Yeah, this is Paige’s playpen, but we didn’t get here because we were perfect,” Moore said. “We don’t have consistency on the ground, and these horses have to adjust every single night we come out there. I am very proud of her.”

Moore has won $104,346 at this year’s WNFR, putting her in second place in the world standings.

World standings leader Tiany Schuster continues to top the barrel racing chart with $285,339, about $60,000 ahead of Moore.

Brazile adds to all-around total

Trevor Brazile tied for fifth place in tie-down roping to increase his all-around total to $319,337 in the race for the all-around title.

Tuf Cooper, Brazile’s brother-in-law, continues to sit in second. 

Meanwhile, tie-down roper Caleb Smidt moved into third place with $207,894 after tying for first in Round 8.

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