There was no doubt that Trevor Brazile was going to win a world championship during the 55th edition of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) December 5-14. Brazile qualified in two events (tie down roping and team roping) and held a commanding lead in the All Around coming into rodeo's premier event.
By the time the sixth round rolled around Tuesday night, December 10, Brazile was just a bit over $100 from clinching his record 11th All Around championship, including the last eight straight. He got the mathematical win when second ranked Jade Corkill and his partner Clay Tryan missed their steer but he went ahead and made the win more dramatic with a round win with partner Patrick Smith.
Brazile now has a total of 19 World titles in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), breaking the tie he held with Guy Allen. He won 11 in the All Around, one in the heading, three in the tie down roping and four in the steer roping. He also extended his own lead for WNFR go round wins to 55. He has earned $312,579 this season, the seventh time in his career he has earned at least $300,000 in a year.
"It was coming, and I told him that a couple of weeks ago," said Allen, who won all 18 of his titles in the steer roping. "I thought it was going to be five years ago. I told him I thought he'd double my total. You've got to be impressed with what he's done. He's worked at it. If he was going back in the days of Jim Shoulders, he probably would have done the same thing. He's just that type of cowboy. I don't think anybody will beat [Trevor's record], even if he never wins another one."
"I know he's probably not out to set all the records, but he works at it and deserves it."
"I'd never have dreamed of setting 19 world championships as a goal, because I'm into setting goals I can reach," Brazile said. "I watched Guy Allen dominate. I wondered how someone could do something as hard as winning a world championship 18 times. It's a little different, because he did it in one event. I witnessed his dominance firsthand, because I was the bridesmaid on many occasions."
"This is a little bit surreal," he said. "It sounds like a number to most people. Just because you have 18 doesn't mean they give you 19. World titles never get any easier to win, and that's why they all hold special meaning for me. There are 15 guys in every event here every year, and none of them just lie down and let you have it. This is what we dream about from when we were little. No one wants to let go of that part of it."
The team roping was a bit soft for the second straight night but Brazile and Smith ran out to the lead with the only four second run at 4.8 seconds. Brady and Riley Minor were second with their run of 5.0 seconds.
"It's been a rough team roping altogether," said Smith after the win. "I think last night was the easiest go round I can ever remember here. For the people at home, it's not as easy as it looks; it's like sitting at home watching a football game and wondering why they make interceptions or fumbles."
"A lot of these steers don't start right so it kind of throws off the rythm of the run from the beginning. It's been kind of survival out here."
Smith and Brazile are ending their long partnership following this season; Smith plans to rope with Kaleb Driggers next year.
"Trevor has so many gold buckles he could be using them for Christmas tree ornaments," Smith joked. "Kaleb is a young guy, hungry for a his first world title. But I hate when people say this is the last time Trevor and I will rope together at the NFR. Who knows what the future holds? Trevor and I are in business together and we're friends."
Despite a no-time, Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill continue to lead the standings and sit seventh in the average. Luke Brown and Kollin VonAhn lead the average with 33.4 on six steers; they are the only team to catch all six thus far. The Minor brothers have won $48,000 this week, sit third in the average and have moved to third in the standings, with Riley trailing Tryan by $24,400 and Brady $22,812 behind Corkill.
"This is one year that I really felt like there were 15 teams that had a legitimate chance at a gold buckle when we got here," said Smith. "Nobody knows what the future holds. There are still four more rounds, and there's no way to predict what's going to happen next. In the team roping, crazy things can happen and they usually do. The story [of the world championship race] won't be told until after the 10th go-round. I just hope I'm in the middle of it."
Meanwhile, rookie Taylor Jacob was setting records of her own in the barrel racing. The Texas cowgirl already had two round wins in her pocket, including a 13.49 that flirted with the arena record held by Carlee Pierce at 13.46.
That was before she and her great horse Bo--registered as Honor Thy Frenchman--blew the doors off the Thomas & Mack in Round 6. They sprinted around the cloverleaf at 13.37, shattering the record.
"It's just so amazing," said the cowgirl, who accepted her Resistol Rookie of the Year award on the arena floor just moments before blazing the pattern. "When they came to get me for the victory lap someone said I needed to try and breathe because I just couldn't believe what had just happened. I had never said it out loud, but that was one of my goals for this Finals. My mom asked me the other night what the arena record was and I said, 'I don't know, but if I break it, they will tell me.'"
"My mom said that if I won the round tonight she would go with me to the Stratosphere and bungee jump. So I think that is probably what we are going to do tomorrow."
Jacob has won $63,802 at her first WNFR and trails only World leader Sherry Cervi in Women's Pro Rodeo Association (WPRA) barrel racing earnings. Cervi placed for the sixth consecutive go round with her 13.75. She has now earned $70,413 at the WNFR and leads the average by an unheard of 9/10ths of a second over Lisa Lockhart.
Cervi lost ground to reigning champion Mary Walker for the second straight night (Walker was second) but still leads by $37,000.
Another World Champ finally found his form tonight. Jesse Wright earned just his second check of the 2013 WNFR but it was a big one for first in the saddle bronc riding. He rode Goin South from Stace Smith Pro Rodeos for 83.5 points.
"I had a slow start; the first one was alright and I had a weak mark out on the second, never really got my timing," said Wright, who started the WNFR second and has slid to fifth. "I've been on that horse a few times; I won Amarillo [Champions Challenge] on him. He feels good and I had a really good time, it was really fun."
"This is awesome; I was just so happy to go out and have a strong mark out and have the ride feel as good as it did," he said. "I finally got it rolling and it's a great feeling. Before tonight I was having mental blocks on some things and I wasn't riding well or marking out strong. Tonight, I went out and had fun like you're supposed to do and it turned out nice."
Big brother, and two-time World Champion, Cody Wright continues to lead the standings. Chad Ferley surged back to third behind Cody and Jake Wright with a split of second in Round 6. Cort Scheer leads the average by just a point and a half over Jacobs Crawley. The two cowboys are ranked seventh and eighth, respectively.
In the steer wrestling, two-time champion Dean Gorsuch made a move toward a third go buckle with his second round win of this WNFR. On a night when the doggin' was getting fast, Gorsuch turfed his steer in 3.2 seconds.
"This feels great. It's just a blessing," said Gorsuch. "I've been drawing good steers and I feel like I can't waste them. The first three rounds, there were a couple there that I felt like I should've won more on than I did. I wasted them and I didn't want to let that happen and it's easy to let that happen. So, it was good to get things straightened back out."
Gorsuch has moved to third in the standings with WNFR earnings of $46,575, just over $15,000 behind leader Casey Martin but he is one place lower in the average thus far at sixth. Jule Hazen holds the average lead at 26.5 seconds with Dakota Eldridge 7/10ths back.
"I don't really think you ever sleep at this place [the WNFR]. There are so many guys who bulldog so well, it feels good to be making it," said Gorsuch. "I love it out here and I want to be here as many times as I can and it's not easy to be out here."
Bareback rider Casey Colletti made it two rounds in a row with his 86.5 point ride on Smack Daddy from J Bar J Rodeo in Round 6.
"I had her at San Angelo this year and went 85 and got a share of second in the long go," said Colletti of the bucking horse. "It was such a good day of horses, and I was so glad to have her."
Colletti was winning the round 24 hours ago before Bobby Mote got on a re-ride and tied him; tonight, Mote was again the last rider but missed his horse out.
"I was climbing up on the fence and saw him." said Colletti. "They tried to get me to climb up on the victory lap horse before Bobby rode, but I told them I wouldn't do it. I guess I'm superstitious about that. I did it once and the last rider beat me."
Colletti is riding with a sprained MCL in his right knee, suffered in Round 3 but has earned $40,515 at the WNFR.
The top of the standings remained unchanged with Mote taking a no score and Kaycee Feild scoring too low for money. Mote's lead is just $4,300 with Will Lowe right behind Feild. He won fourth tonight to keep his title hopes alive.
Caleb Bennett leads the average with 497 points on six horses; Feild is second at 496.5.
Like the barebacks, the leader board in the tie down roping didn't change much in Round 6. After three straight round wins, Cody Ohl failed to place in Round 6 while Tuf Cooper earned just $4,808 to close the gap to $2,000. The two Texans are separated by just one second in the average as well.
Justin Maass earned his first 2013 WNFR paycheck with the round win at 7.2 seconds in the tie down roping. He was just one tenth better than red hot Shane Hanchey who leads the average by more than three seconds and has won $58,894 this week.
"That calf was just so good and I missed my slack," said Maass. "Then my right boot hung up on something. I don't know if my spur hung or what, but my foot was pulling out of the boot and my boot was almost halfway off. I was trying to push my heel down, running back to get on, and I still didn't get it back down in my boot, but when it works, it works."
"Cody was six on [the calf] last time but I take that with a grain of salt because he's one of the best there's ever been. I'm taking nothing for granted and just feel lucky."
Trevor Kastner won the bull riding, scoring 88 points on Wild Eyes from Corey & Lange as the first rider out tonight. The bull riders went 10 for 15 tonight.
"That's a good bull; he turned back right there and I ended up staying on," said Kastner, who won his first round of this WNFR after splitting second in Round 4. He's earned $31,550.
"It could've just been that I drew better than all of those other guys," said Kastner, who is competing in his third WNFR. "Everybody rode well, but it came down to who drew the best bull, and I think that was me. I haven't stayed on as much this year as I have in the past, but it does help that I have a few years of experience here under my belt."
Three-time champion J.W. Harris notched another ride, winning second for his 86 point ride. His lead in the standings is over $57,000 and he leads the average by 19.5 points over Shane Proctor. Both men have ridden five of six bulls while Tyler Smith has ridden four to sit third in the average and second in the standings.
Harris has won $67,007 at the 2013 WNFR.
Round 7 begins at 6:45 p.m. Pacific time on Wednesday night, December 11.
Round 1 recap
Round 2 recap
Round 3 recap
Round 4 recap
Round 5 recap
Other Round 6 Notes:
Ram Truck Top Gun Award: Sherry Cervi still leads for the Top Gun award, given to the high money winner in a single event. She has earned $70,413 with J.W. Harris right behind at $67,007. Taylor Jacob is in the running after winning her third go round; she's won $63,802.
Steve Woolsey bounced back from a concussion suffered when his fifth round bull stepped on him to attempt a ride in Round 6; he bucked off early but earned the cheers of the crowd for his try. While several cowboys are competing with injuries here, including bull doggers Tyler Pearson and Hunter Cure, there were no significant injuries reported on the Round 6 Justin Sportsmedicine report.
The PRCA announced in a press conference prior to the sixth round that television coverage of the WNFR will move to CBS Sports Network next season while Xtreme Bulls coverage will air on MAVTV, which is owned by Lucas Oil, a major western lifestyle sponsor. MAVTV will also air the All American Pro Rodeo Series Finale from Waco and the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo from Oklahoma City. The deal with CBS Sports Network includes both 2014 and 2015 events such as the Wrangler Champions Challenge and the championship rodeos in Puyallup, Washington and Omaha, Nebraska.