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World Champions crowned at 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo

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It was a day for records to fall as the 55th Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) closed out its ten-day run in Las Vegas on December 14, 2013.

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Roping what could be their last steer together at the WNFR, 2013 All Around World Champion Trevor Brazile and Patrick Smith shared the win in the team roping with another team who is ending their long standing partnership, Derrick Begay and Cesar de la Cruz. Both teams stopped the clock in 4.4 seconds. de la Cruz broke $1 million in career earnings with the win, becoming the 120th man to do so.

Brazile and Smith earned $76,773 during the WNFR after finishing seventh in the average. Meanwhile, Brazile closed out a great run in the tie down roping, roping his final calf in 8.8 seconds to win second in the average for another $94,050 in earnings. The combined total shot the Texas cowboy's career earnings over $5 million, the first cowboy in Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) history to reach that mark.

In closing out his record breaking 19th World Championship, Brazile earned $426,011 this year, the second best season in PRCA history behind Brazile's own mark set at $507,921 back in 2010. He now has the seven highest totals for season earnings in the record books and has broken $400,000 three times in his career.

Ironically, Brazile also broke Fred Whitfield's record for the fastest average in WNFR history when he stopped the clock at 83.2 seconds; Whitfield had previously set the mark at 84.0 back in 1997. However, Sulphur, Louisiana's Shane Hanchey was even faster than Brazile, setting the new mark at 80.1 seconds as he closed out his first World Championship.

"I'm sure it hasn't hit me yet. I studied Fred more than anybody and I've watched the 1997 NFR so many times," said Hanchey. "It's different now, they roped bigger calves back then."

"Words can't describe it. My family deserves it," said Hanchey of winning the world title. He won $207,672, just $4,105 more than Cody Ohl after coming to Vegas ranked 10th in the standings. "We have been through a lot. That horse (Reata) has been through a lot and I've been through a lot. This is unbelievable [to win a gold buckle]. It means so much to me and my family."

Ohl won Round 10, his fifth of the week, with a 6.6 second run. It was just off his own arena record of 6.5 seconds and he tied Dave Brock's record for round wins in 1978. Ohl also tied the mark in 2001.

Hanchey broke Ohl's earnings record for the WNFR after finishing with $134,766; Ohl had won $132,652 in 2006. He became the first non-Texan to win the tie down roping since Herbert Theriot in 1994.

"It was just another round for me. I knew I had a good calf and I knew I just had to be about 11.4 to get Trevor and I knew I had to be about 12.2 to set the average record at the NFR and I accomplished both of those things," said Hanchey. "It has been awesome and it has been a heck of a ride."

In the team roping, Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill earned the second titles of their careers, battling adversity in the early rounds after Corkill injured his left hand on the first night of the 2013 WNFR. The team who came to Vegas ranked first earned $66,707 during the WNFR and needed every penny to hold off the charge from average winners Luke Brown and Kollin VonAhn. The latter earned $91,797 after winning the WNFR with 56.2 on nine steers.

“This was the toughest competition there’s ever been, in my opinion,” said Tryan, who won his first title in 2005 roping with Patrick Smith. “This is a very satisfying win for me. It’ll take a few days for this to sink in."

"The steers this year were old school. They were very challenging," continued Tryan, who has had several chances to earn the second title in the last few years. He won $179,688 this season, just $8,500 ahead of Brown.

“I’ve been one of those guys who’s been at the top and not gotten it done. We just had to catch tonight. I just made sure I got out and got him caught. This is a very satisfying win for me. We had a good season, and it was really important to finish strong. Getting it done at the finish line is very important, and it feels really good.”

The reigning champion, Corkill was in a lot of pain in the early going after getting his hand caught in his dallies on opening night. Thanks to treatment from the Justin Sportsmedicine Team, Corkill bounced back in Round 2 for a check before finishing the week sixth in the average.

"Last year I couldn't enjoy it [winning the title] as much because my partner didn't win it with me," he said. "It's nice to win with your partner."

“Winning it back-to-back means a lot to me,” he continued. Corkill won $178,057 in his title defense. “Roping’s tough and it’s just gotten so much tougher. To get it done two years in a row means everything.”

Like Tryan, it's been awhile since Chad Ferley collected his first gold buckle. The South Dakota bronc rider won back in 2006 but hasn't been in a tight title race since then. The 2013 chase came down to the final horse with Ferley battling two of the three Wright brothers for the World Championship.

Two-time champ Cody Wright won the round, earning 85 points on Resistols Top Hat from Stace Smith Pro Rodeo. Ferley meanwhile picked up third in the round, hanging onto third in the average to push his WNFR earnings to $100,661. His season total of $204,432 held off Jake Wright by just about $10,100.

"Heck, I don't know what took so long in between; if I could just win it every year that would be great," laughed Ferley. "I think the second one is sweeter because they don't just hand world championship buckles and saddles away and it's a lot of work. I won my first title here my first time here, and then it took another seven years, so this one means the most."

Jacobs Crawley won the average, one of just two cowboys to ride all ten broncs. His 778.5 was five points better than Cort Scheer.

"It's awesome," said Crawley. "It's a long ten days. You've got to have fun here in Vegas. I just tried to stay focused."

"It's insane how much I've been blessed."

"My mindset coming in here was that I didn't do very well here last year and I didn't think I rode very well last time, so I wanted to improve this year," said Ferley, who came to Vegas ranked third behind Cody and reigning champ Jesse Wright. "My main goal was to make as much money as I could to feed my family, and at the end it worked out and I won."

Probably the wildest finish to the season came in the steer wrestling. Entering the final night, six men had a realistic shot at the title with the best odds going to two-time champ Dean Gorsuch, who was second in the average before the final steer. When Gorsuch sailed over the steer's head, the door swung wide open and Hunter Cure marched through it.

Cure turfed his final steer in 3.9 seconds, earning a round check and third in the average. His WNFR earnings of $108,348 pushed his season total to $173,355, about $15,000 better than Matt Reeves. Average winner Bray Armes finished third after stopping the clock at 44.8 on ten steers.

Like Ferley, Cure was motivated by a poor performance in his last trip to Las Vegas back in 2009. Ranked seventh when the 2013 WNFR began, Cure was a model of consistency throughout a finals with two bigger, tougher sets of steers including those on the final night.

“I’m trying to wrap my mind around it at the moment,” Cure said. “The key this week was a great horse and a great hazer, Riley Duvall. He did an unbelievable job all week long and I’m greatly appreciative."

Inn fact, Duvall hazed for the top three cowboys in the standings, Cure, Reeves and Armes.

“This is one of the hardest starts you see all year long and you have to keep attacking if you want to win. I made a few mistakes earlier in the week by not attacking enough. I wanted to keep it as clean as possible at the end of the week. I was aggressive and it allowed everything to work better in this situation.”

Wade Sumpter won the round in 3.4 seconds; Sumpter had the same steer that had won three previous rounds with Trevor Knowles (Round 1), Gorsuch (4) and Reeves (7).

There was much less drama in the bareback riding where two-time and defending champion Kaycee Feild held all the advantages prior to Round 10. Feild just needed a solid ride to make it three in a row.

His 83 point ride was fifth in the round but allowed the Utah man to win his third straight average with 823 points on ten horses, four and a half points ahead of Steven Peebles who also finished second in the world. Feild tied Jack Ward, Jr. as the only bareback riders to win three consecutive average crowns at the WNFR.

"It feels awesome," said Feild. "Each one gets better and better."

Casey Colletti won his third go round with 86.5 points on Scarlett's Web from Pete Carr's Classic Pro Rodeo.

Feild became just the second bareback rider to win three straight titles; Joe Alexander won five in the 1970's.

"It's amazing to be mentioned with Joe Alexander and Bruce Ford, and Bobby Mote and Will Lowe. I want to keep going and win more. I'm still young and want to win six gold buckles."

"I want to break records and I want to set my own records. I want to do things nobody's done before," he continued. "I got some inspiration from Bruce Ford telling my dad that I'm such a good rider."

Feild won $119,091 at the 2013 WNFR to finish the season with $239,465. Peebles was over $40,000 back.

Like Feild, Sherry Cervi needed just a clean round on the final night to collect her piece of history. Cervi made her most cautious run of the WNFR at 14.15 seconds but still won a round check and closed out her average title as well.

Lisa Lockhart won her third go round of this WNFR with her run of 13.88, finishing third in the average and winning $102,163 to finish third in the world.

Cervi's 138.15 on ten runs shattered the previous arena record held by Jill Moody (138.26). She also became just the fifth barrel racer in history to place in all ten rounds of a single WNFR, joining Colette Graves Baier (1974), Lynn McKenzie (1978), Charmayne James (1986) and Kristie Peterson (1996-97).

Riding Stingray, who is registered as MP Meter My Hay, Cervi earned $155,899 during the WNFR, breaking reigning Women's Pro Rodeo Association (WPRA) World Champ Mary Walker's year old record of $146,941. Cervi now owns two of the top three WNFR performances by a WPRA barrel racer in history.

"It's been a great week, my horse worked awesome," said an emotional Cervi, who won her fourth WPRA World title, putting her in a class with just James, Peterson and Billie McBride as four time winners.

“It is special, because getting around these barrels 10 times and being faster than anyone else here is so very, very hard to do,” said the Arizona cowgirl, who was riding in her 16th WNFR.

Cervi also won the Ram Truck Top Gun Award as the top money winner in a single event at the WNFR. It’s the second straight year a barrel racer won the award. Hanchey was second.

“It’s just all so special,” Cervi said. “This has been such a great year for me. Winning the world and also the Top Gun Award – I’m a bit overwhelmed.”

Another four-time champion did not have to do anything on Saturday night. Bull rider J.W. Harris wrapped up his title in Round 9.

Rookie Cooper Davis clinched his rookie title with a 10th round win aboard Palace Station John Doe from Do or Die Pro Rodeo. He scored 84 points to close his rookie season with $139,589.

Reigning champ Cody Teel put the polish on a great finals with an eighth qualified ride in Round 10. He won the average with 651.5 on eight bulls. Harris bucked off the final bull but finished second in the average.

Teel earned $131,010 at the WNFR while Harris collected $122,456. The pair finished 1-2 in the World standings with $252,829 and $224,073.

"This is probably the best I've ever felt mentally coming into an NFR," said Harris, who lost the title a year ago by just over $1,000. He won three straight titles from 2008-2010. "Physically, I've always been fine, but mentally this was the strongest I think I've been since I kicked ass at the 2010 NFR and rode eight out of 10. I had a few stupid mental mistakes here this time, but overall I felt good."

"I thought there was no reason whay I shouldn't be the defending champion and going for my sixth this year," Harris said of the motivation of finishing second for two consecutive years. "It lit a fire under me and it's going to continue, and if anything, I'm going to push harder next year. I guess I'm like fine wine; the older I get, the better I get."

Round 1 recap

Round 2 recap

Round 3 recap

Round 4 recap

Round 5 recap

Round 6 recap

Round 7 recap

Round 8 recap

Round 9 recap

WNFR Notes:

All eight newly crowned World Champions won at least one go round at the 2013 WNFR. They all also placed high in the average with three (Feild, Hanchey and Cervi) winning both the average and the world title. Tryan and Corkill placed the lowest in the average of the champs at sixth.

WNFR rookies held their own through their first ten days in Las Vegas, led by steer wrestler Dakota Eldridge. Eldridge qualified 15th in his event but won $91,121 during the WNFR. WPRA barrel racer Taylor Jacob was second amongst the rookie field, earning $82,432.

The 24 rookies earned $815,780, respresenting 13% of the total purse. They also won eight go rounds, led by Jacob who won three.

The top five WNFR rookies: 1) Eldridge, $91,121; 2) Jacob, $82,432; 3) Shada Brazile, $61,899; 4) Cooper Davis, $56,190; and 5) Stan Branco, $50,481.

Top Stock of the 2013 WNFR:

Bareback riding

Assault, Rafter G Rodeo
Power Play, Andrews Rodeo
Craig at Midnight, Powder River Rodeo
Show Stomper, Frontier Rodeo
Pillow Talk, Harry Vold Rodeo

Saddle bronc riding

Killer Bee, Beutler & Son Rodeo
Tip Off, Frontier Rodeo
Lunatic Fringe, Burch Rodeo
Maple Leaf, Frontier Rodeo
Spade, Rafter H Rodeo Livestock

Bull riding

Crystal Deal, Growney Brothers
Mr. Clark, Western Rodeos
Shepherd Hills Tested, Powder River Rodeo
Mr. Bull, Big Stone, Moreno & Growney
Stanley''s Pick, Frontier Rodeo

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