LAS VEGAS – Marcos Costa had a long journey to his current destination – both figuratively and literally.
A native of Paraná, Brazil, Costa left his home and his parents – father, Vladetim, and mother, Joana, at age 14 to be a horse trainer 1,000 miles away in San Paulo, Brazil. Costa came to America in 2014, and lives in a guest house on Stran Smith’s property in Childress, Texas.
Friday night, during Round 2 of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Polaris RANGER, Costa became the first Brazilian ever to win a tie-down roping round at the WNFR.
“I’m living my dream, I don’t know what words to say,” Costa said. “I feel like I’m flying and I’m on top of the world. I always dreamed about coming to America and being a world champion. To come here, make the Finals and win the go-round is fabulous.
“If it was my wish, I would’ve wanted to win (a round) before, but this was my time and I give all glory to God. I feel blessed, because that’s a long road (to get here).”
Aboard his horse, Pouraguaja, Costa now has a lead of nearly $40,000 over second-place Shane Hanchey, as he aims to become the first person from his homeland to win a gold buckle.
“My horse, she’s amazing,” Costa said. “All the people were asking how she was going to be at the Finals. I was saying, ‘I don’t know, we’re going to find out when we get there.’ She has been doing great.”
The Wright family of bronc riders has a history of catching fire in the Thomas & Mack Center, and it appears it’s Ryder Wright’s turn.
Wright put together an 86-point ride on Northcott Macza’s Get Smart, and the 18-year-old has won the first two rounds of his WNFR career. Wright is now firmly in the WNFR average and world title races, and is riding better than any saddle bronc rider on the planet.
“Winning two in a row is awesome,” he said. “You have to have the mindset of going for first (place) every time you nod your head. Last night set my confidence up a bit, and tonight I went in like I had nothing to lose.”
Wright has moved from 14th to fourth in the world in just 16 seconds of work, and is now looking like one of the favorites to upset defending World Champion Jacobs Crawley, who remains in first by $46,000 over the rest of the field.
“All year I had been fighting to get into the Top 15, and I came here and I’m fourth,” Wright said. “That’s awesome.”
Tim O’Connell won his fourth WNFR go-round buckle Friday night, while the guy he split it with was riding in just his second round at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Clayton Biglow, the 2016 PRCA/Resistol Bareback Riding Rookie of the Year, posted an 85-point ride on Rafter G Rodeo’s Ankle Biter to tie O’Connell, who had the same score on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Betty Boop.
O’Connell, who is No. 1 in the world and placed third in the first round, says having the bulls-eye of the top spot on his back suits him well.
“Yeah, I still like it,” O’Connell said of being the hunted. “I’ve chased enough, and it hasn’t worked, so I like being the guy everyone is chasing. I told myself that I had to set the bar high, set the pace and get it rolling right away. My goal is to hit the gas pedal until the end of this.”
Biglow, a 20-year-old who placed second during his first-ever WNFR ride last night, is riding like a veteran of Rodeo’s Super Bowl, and is now fifth in the world standings.
“I really drew two great horses so far,” Biglow said. “All the bareback riders are really good buddies, so when you get back there, start pulling your riggin’ down and joking with your buddies, it feels like another rodeo. Heck yes the bright lights get to you a little bit, but when I’m riding I’m not thinking about who’s in the stands. I’m thinking about my horse and winning.”
Rookie bull rider Roscoe Jarboe is not only battling Garrett Tribble for the Rookie of the Year title at the WNFR, he’s also chasing world and average titles.
The 20-year-old from New Plymouth, Idaho, split third in the first round, and then won Round 2 with an 88.5-point ride on Wayne Vold Rodeo’s Cooper’s Comet.
“The guys told me about my bull, and said he was good and I had a shot at winning, so I focused on my skills and let my reactions take over when they needed to,” Jarboe said. “You see a lot of everything, the crowd and the bull, but hopefully not the dirt.”
He stayed off the dirt, and took a victory lap, which has him first in the average and third in the world. However, he isn’t letting the pressure get to him, and is riding with the poise of a veteran.
“I really don’t know how to take it other than just one bull at a time and hope to ride all 10 and make the record books,” he said. “I just keep riding – we all made it here for a reason, and we all came to ride. I just stayed calm, cool and collected, and cheered for the other bull riders. As long as they are doing good, then I hope I’ll be doing good.”
Team ropers Luke Brown and Jake Long both entered the WNFR in third place. After two nights, they’re the team to beat in the world championship race.
This is the first season the pair has roped together, and after their 4.0-second run Friday night, they couldn’t be in a better position.
“I’ve never had a realistic shot at a gold buckle. It means a lot to me to have a year like we’ve had,” Long said. “My job is as easy as it’s ever been. Between Luke and my horse (2016 PRCA/AQHA Heel Horse of the Year Colonel), I don’t have any excuse for anything.”
This is Brown’s ninth WNFR, and he’s shown that he’s one of the most consistent ropers in the sport, regardless of who he’s partnered with.
Last season, Brown finished second in the world, and now has another great look at his first gold buckle. He knows earning checks while staying in the average race is the path to a title.
“If you don’t get a time, you can’t win,” Brown said. “But you have to be aggressive, too. We’ll rope every steer the best we can, and try to keep it simple.”
Steer wrestler Jason Thomas isn’t letting the big stage of his first WNFR affect his performance. A night after finishing out of the money, the Benton, Ark., rebounded with his first WNFR round win thanks to a time of 3.5 seconds.
“It’s just another rodeo,” Thomas said. “The start and the atmosphere are the only differences from everywhere else, and of course, it’s 10 days.
“It’s not a sprint, it’s a long marathon. And you can’t let one day depict what is going to happen the next day. Whether it’s good or bad, wake up the next morning and go at ’em again. I don’t know if you ever can slow your heartbeat down here. If you do that, you’re not going to do very well.”
The win, aboard Jake Rinehart’s horse Rio moved Thomas up two spots to second in the world standings, as he trails leader Clayton Hass by less than $5,000.
Barrel racer Kimmie Wall is making her move toward the world title. After entering the WNFR fifth in the world, the Roosevelt, Utah, native finished in second place in Round 1, and then, for an encore, won Round 2.
Aboard her horse Foxy, Wall clocked a time of 13.79 seconds, and is now second in the world standings, and first in the WNFR average race.
“It’s totally thrilling,” Wall said. “Moving up two spots on the ground was helpful, but Foxy knows her job well and she really, really fired tonight. Today my son told me, ‘Mom, I really want to go to the South Point tonight, so you had better step it up this round.'”
The 58th annual Wrangler NFR continues Saturday with the third round at the Thomas & Mack Center. The action will be televised live and in HD on CBS Sports Net (DirecTV channel 221 and DISH Network channel 158) from 7-10 p.m. PT.
Second Performance Results, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016
Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nev.
Bareback riding: 1. (tie) Tim O’Connell on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo Betty Boob and Clayton Biglow on Rafter G Rodeo Ankle Biter, 85 points, $23,481; 3. (tie) Caleb Bennett and Ty Breuer, 83, $13,327 each; 5. Winn Ratliff, 82.5, $6,769; 6. Jake Brown, 79.5, $4,231.
Steer wrestling: 1. Jason Thomas, 3.5 seconds, $26,231; 2. Matt Reeves, 3.8, $20,731; 3. Clayton Haas, 4.1, $15,654; 4. Dakota Eldridge, 4.6, $11,000; 5. Tyler Waguespack, 4.7, $6,769; 6. Nick Guy, 5.1, $1,410 each.
Team roping: 1. Luke Brown/Jake Long, 4.0 seconds, $26,231; 2. Dustin Bird/Russell Cardoza, 4.2, $20.731; 3. Erich Rogers/Cory Petska, 4.3, $15,654 each; 4. Clay Smith/Paul Eaves, 4.4, $11,000 each; 5. Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira, 4.8, $6,769; 6. Levi Simpson, 4.9, $4,231.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Ryder Wright, 86 points on Northcott Macza’s Get Smart, $26,231; 2. Sterling Crawley, 84, $20,731; 3. Heith DeMoss, 83.5, $15,654; 4. Jake Watson, 83, $11,000; 5. Jake Wright, 80.5, $6,769; 6. Jacobs Crawley, 80, $4,231.
Tie-down roping: 1. Marcos Costa, 7.6 seconds, $26,231; 2. Cade Swor, 7.7, $20,731; 3. Ryle Smith, 7.8, $15,654; 4. Caleb Smidt, 8.0, $11,000; 5. (tie) Reese Reimer and Tyson Durfey, 8.3 , $5,500 each.
Barrel racing: 1. Kimmie Wall, 13.79 seconds, $26,231; 2. Lisa Lockhart and Sherry Cervi, 13.8, $18,192 each; 4. Amberleigh Moore, 13.81, $11,000; 5. Sarah Rose McDonald, 13.88, $6,769; 6. Ivy Conrado, 13.9, $1,410 each.
Bull riding: 1. Roscoe Jarboe, 88.5 points on Wayne Vold Rodeo’s Coopers Comet, $26,231; 2. Joe Frost and Garrett Smith, 87, $18,192; 4. Shane Proctor, 85.5, $11,000; No other qualified rides.
Courtesy of PRCA