Anytime you bring together the 120 best professional rodeo cowboys and cowgirls from the regular season and match them head-to-head for ten straight nights under the bright lights of Las Vegas, there will be plenty of jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring and even cringe worthy moments. The 2013 edition of rodeo's crowning event, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, was no exception, providing record breaking performances as contestants competed for World Championships in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and Women's Pro Rodeo Association (WPRA).
With the top 15 money winners in each event competing Dec. 5-14, 2013 at the Thomas & Mack Arena on the campus of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV), there were opportunities aplenty for performances to make a "best-of" list but these are some of the National Rodeo Examiners favorites.
13. Top Stock Perfect
The WNFR always promises the best livestock in the business and the animals didn't disappoint in 2013. In fact, the Top Stock of the WNFR (as voted by the stock contractors) went undefeated during their 2013 appearances.
The Top Bareback Horse, Assault from the Rafter G string, downed Ty Breuer in Round 3 and Casey Colletti in Round 8. Top Saddle Bronc Killer Bee from Beutler & Son Rodeo bucked off Heith DeMoss in Round 2 and Tyler Corrington in Round 7.
Meanwhile, the Top Bull--Crystal Deal from Growney Brothers--was also perfect in his two appearances, bucking off rookie Elliot Jacoby in Roumd 3 and Trevor Kastner in Round 8.
12. Wise Guy goes out on top
In a moment perfectly scripted, Utah bareback rider boarded Pete Carr's Classic Pro Rodeo's horse Wise Guy for the very first out of the opening night at the 2013 WNFR. He posted 85.5 points, good enough for the win in the horse's final trip before retiring.
In his career, Wise Guy carried bareback riders to eight WNFR go round wins and $228,543 in WNFR earnings.
11. Jacob breaks arena record
Rookie Taylor Jacob rode a high into the WNFR but struggled in her first two trips around the cloverleaf pattern. Once she found her rhythm, she and her great horse Honor Thy Frenchman, known around the barn as Bo, lit the field on fire for the middle rounds.
She won Rounds 3 & 4 including a 13.49 second run that was just three one hundredths from the arena record then held by Carlee Pierce.
After taking a split of third in Round 5, Jacob and Bo blew the roof off the building with their 13.37 second spin around three in Round 6. The fastest time ever run in the Thomas & Mack by nearly a full tenth of a second, the win was one of four victory laps the rookie would take in her first trip to the WNFR en route to $82,432 in WNFR earnings and a new record for season earnings by a rookie in the WPRA.
10. Brazile breaks another record
Trevor Brazile owns nearly every record in the PRCA's history books anyway but he managed to nab a couple more during the 2013 edition of the WNFR. Following a 4.8 second round winning effort with Patrick Smith in the team roping in Round 6, Brazile mathematically clinched his 11th All Around title, extending his own record for all around championships.
The title gave the Texas cowboy 19 for his career, breaking the tie he held with steer roper Guy Allen since the National Finals Steer Roping in early November where Brazile won his 18th championship.
9. Colletti collects three on bum knee
Colorado bareback rider Casey Colletti just eeked out a small check in the first three rounds of the 2013 WNFR before spraining the MCL in his right knee during Round 3. For some guys, that might mean a long, and probably not too profitable, week in Vegas.
Instead, Colletti ran out to three round wins in the final seven tries, including an 87.5 point ride that split Round 5 with Bobby Mote and was the second highest marked ride of the WNFR.
Colletti, who won over $59,000 during the Finals, gave praise to the Justin Sportsmedicine Team for allowing him to continue to compete at a high level.
"They have been awesome taking care of me," he said.
8. Ohl bounces back from disaster, nearly ties arena record
Six-time World Champ Cody Ohl doesn't rodeo full time any more but he still manages to be in the mix for the world title at the end of the season. In 2013 he came as close as he's been; "What If" predictions following Round 8 had Ohl claiming the title if the rodeo ended that day.
With two calves left to rope, Ohl backed in the box in Round 9. With a calf that didn't break and barely ran down the pen, Ohl was unable to avoid breaking the barrier and missed the calf. He waited for his loop to clear the calf as precious seconds ticked away before finally roping the calf with a second loop and stopping the clock at 29.5 seconds.
With his average placing seriously diminished, Ohl could do nothing but go at the final go round and hope for a mistake by average leader Shane Hanchey.
Doing what he does best, Ohl won the final go with a 6.6 second run, just one tenth off the arena record that he also holds. Ohl won five go rounds at the 2013 WNFR, tying the record that he shares with Dave Brock. Ohl has 49 career round wins in the tie down roping at the WNFR.
In the end, Ohl lost the World title to Hanchey by just $4,105.
7. Jake Wright takes four round wins
The Wright brothers have already created a dynasty in the saddle bronc riding with oldest brother Cody winning two world titles and Jesse taking his first title in 2012.
Jesse's twin Jake made a huge move toward a title of his own in 2013, winning four go rounds during his second trip to Las Vegas. In fact, Wright was in the hunt right up until he missed his Round 9 horse out, dropping too far back in the average.
Wright won Rounds 1, 4, 7 and 8 with his best marking an 86 in the fourth go aboard Kid Rock from Brookman-Hyland Rodeo.
He won $106,270 at the WNFR, finishing as the Reserve World Champ, just over $10,000 behind Chad Ferley.
6. Gorsuch comes oh so cose
Two-time World Champ Dean Gorsuch is always Mr. Consistency in Vegas. is 2013 campaign was proving no different through the first nine go's. Gorsuch had two round wins and was sitting third in the average, poised to take home world title number three.
But his steer in Round 10 had other plans. The entire field of bull doggers were shocked when Gorsuch slid over the steer's head, landing on the dirt. The no time dropped Gorsuch from third to seventh in the average, a difference of about $22,000.
5. Corkill bounces back from injury to claim world title
Jade Corkill came to the 2013 edition of the WNFR as the reigning champion and the standings leader. But his title defense looked in jeopardy after Round 1; Corkill caught his left hand in his coils, crushing it into the saddle horn and sending him to the hospital for further inspection.
Luckily, the injury, while painful with huge chunks of flesh peeled from the fingers, was not serious enough to keep the roper from competition. In fact, he returned in Round 2 with a 5.1 second effort that won sixth place money.
Corkill and partner Clay Tryan would go on to $66,707 in WNFR earnings, enough to hold their lead and claim their second world titles.
4. Hanchey breaks records
Shane Hanchey was not even in the discussion when experts were predicting the World title race in the tie down roping. The Louisiana cowboy came to Vegas ranked 10th, quite a piece behind leader and two-time champion Tuf Cooper.
But a record breaking WNFR performance later, Hanchey stood atop the field as the World Champion. He roped ten calves in 80.1 seconds, smashing the previous record held by Fred Whitfield at 84.0.
Hanchey also won $134,766 during the Finals, another record for tie down ropers. The previous mark was held by the man he just beat out for the title, Cody Ohl.
3. Feild keeps kicking the records
Kaycee Feild has become the dominant force in the bareback riding at the WNFR in the last three years. Three world titles, three average wins. He seems to get stronger the longer the rodeo goes.
With his third consecutive win in the average -- he marked 823 points in 2013 -- he tied the record held by Jack Ward Jr. as the only men to achieve that success at the Finals.
Feild is also only the second man to win three straight titles and has the record of five held by Joe Alexander in his sites.
2. Cervi does it all
Sherry Cervi was unbeatable. And not just by the barrel racers during the 2013 WNFR but all the contestants. The standings leader entering the Finals, Cervi dominated the first two rounds on her way to breaking records.
The Arizona cowgirl won her fourth WPRA world title, putting her in a class with only Charmayne James, Kristie Peterson and Billie McBride.
She placed in every round at the finals, only the fifth barrel racer to accomplish that and the first since Peterson did it in back-to-back seasons in the late 1990's.
She and her great mare Stingray broke the arena record in the average, posting 138.15 seconds on ten runs.
Cervi earned $155,899, more than any other contestant at the Finals, earning her the Ram Truck Top Gun Award.
1. $5 million reasons to cheer Brazile
Trevor Brazile already had a world title in hand when Round 10 rolled in but he had a shot at a couple more on the final day of the 2013 pro rodeo season. He came up a bit short, third in the tie down roping and fifth in the heading but he earned about $47,000 in the averages in his two events. Added with a split of the round win in the team roping, Brazile earned $170,823 during the WNFR.
Brazile won $426,011 this season, the second highest in PRCA history behind his own 2010 total of $507,921. Brazile has the seven highest totals in history and has eclipsed $400,000 three times.
On the final night of the 2013 season, Brazile passed $5 million in career earnings, the first cowboy in PRCA history to do so. He now has $5,029,313 and counting.