The first of the big winter pro rodeos, the National Western Stock Show Rodeo (NWSS) is winding down its 16 day run at the Denver Coliseum, culminating in the Championship Round to be held Sunday, January 27, 2013.
The National Western is amongst the top 12 professional rodeos sanctioned each year by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and Women's Pro Rodeo Association (WPRA) as ranked by prize money. The first of the winter stock show rodeos, Denver is where many cowboys and cowgirls kick off their ambitions for a world championship season.
The 107th edition of the NWSS began January 12, 2013. The NWSS is a charitable organization whose primary goal is to provide scholarship assistance to students entering agricultural and medical fields in rural areas. The NWSS is the primary fundraiser for the endeavor; however, the NWSS hosts numerous other events at the Denver Coliseum during the rest of the year.
The NWSS Rodeo always features a mix of known names, World Champions and qualifiers to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR), along with up-and-coming cowboys and cowgirls. A glance at the current leaders in each of the seven events at the NWSS bears out this perpetual truth.
World Champion Steer Wrestler Jason Miller leads the way in his event, bouncing back from a 16th place finish in the World standings in 2012 that left him a spectator to rodeo's biggest event, the WNFR. Determined not to be in that position again, Miller has downed two steers during preliminary competition here in 9.1 seconds.
Like Miller, Ty Breuer of Mandan, North Dakota just missed the cut for the WNFR a year ago, finishing 23rd in the standings. Breuer is leading the bareback riding here with 166 points earned on two horses. He is just one point ahead of R.C. Landingham. Both just 23 years of age, the cowboys are seeking their first WNFR berths in 2013.
The Wright name in the saddle bronc riding is quickly becoming notorious. Two brothers, Cody and Jesse, have earned World titles in the event. Brother Spencer is still looking for his first WNFR and hoping 2013 will be his year with a big win in Denver. Wright leads the field with 163 points on two horses, just one point ahead of Brad Rudolf. In a very tightly contested event, only five points separate first from eighth and the field includes World Champions Cody Wright and Taos Muncy.
Similarly, the Peek name is familiar to many rodeo fans. Josh Peek has been to the big show in Las Vegas several times in the steer wrestling and tie down roping. However, in Denver it's brother Jeremiah stealing the show. He leads the tie down roping with 17.6 seconds on two calves. Peek is the only Colorado cowboy currently topping the leader boards, ensuring that the local fans will definitely be backing him as he tries to hold off another tight field. Only three tenths of a second separate the top seven tie down ropers.
Meanwhile, Layne Carson and Josh Hodge are not familiar to rodeo fans. They soon will be if they can hold their lead in the team roping here at the NWSS on Championship Sunday. The cowboys, who hail from Grassy Butte, North Dakota and Volberg, Montana respectively, have roped two steers in 10.5 seconds. Less than two seconds separate them from eighth place here and they will no doubt be looking over their shoulders at the reigning world champions, Chad Masters and Jade Corkill, who are fourth with 11.4 seconds.
In the WPRA barrel racing, former Minnesota cowgirl Jane Melby is commanding the competition here. Riding her great gelding First Down Perks, Melby is three tenths in front of Sydni Blanchard and Jessi Eagleberger. The latter has been second here twice in the past three years and will be gunning to earn her first NWSS Championship.
Another Minnesota cowboy stands to collect a title while in Denver. Brett Stall made his first trip to the WNFR last December, earning over $36,000 after covering three of the ten bulls he attempted. In Denver, he is knocking out a better percentage, riding both of his preliminary bulls including a 93 point effort in round one which tied the arena record here. Stall has 178 points on two bulls, 12 points better than the next cowboy in line.
The Championship Round of the NWSS will be held Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. local time.