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Forty-six Rodeo Athletes Earn a Chance at a $1 Million Bonus on Sunday

Jimmy Bryant of Columbus, Indiana, was the crowd’s favorite on Friday night at The American Semi-Finals in Fort Worth. His time of 13.911 seconds was the fastest of the night and boosted his quest to win $1 million and increase his donations to Make A Wish at RFD-TV’s The American presented by Polaris RANGER on Sunday in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Andy Watson

FORT WORTH, Texas – There are so many interesting stories each year at RFD-TV’s The American Semi-Finals presented by Polaris Ranger and this year is no exception. A 50-year-old former truck driver on a mission; a Brazilian bull riding champion who debuted his American career last month; a North Texas roper with more than $50,000 in winnings this week; a 12-year-old girl; a steer wrestler with the biggest win of his career and couple of teenage team ropers are among the 46 rodeo athletes topped the field Friday night at Cowtown Coliseum and earned a chance at a $1 million bonus at RFD-TV’s The American by Polaris RANGER on Sunday.

Jimmy Bryant, the former truck driver turned fulltime horse trainer, kept his dream of making a big donation to Make A Wish alive when he ran the fastest time in barrel racing Friday night. Bryant of Columbus, Indiana, was hard to miss in his special tie-dyed pants and shirt, the result of a dare from friends to wear the latest barrel racing fashion. He turned the dare into a fund-raising opportunity for Make A Wish, raising $16,000 in just a month to grant two wishes. “It’s all for the little people,” Bryant said.

One of the recipients, five-year-old leukemia survivor Brantley Morren of Bloomington, Indiana, and his family traveled to Fort Worth as Bryant’s guests to cheer on his benefactor and Bryant’s horse Cowboy.

The duo clocked a time of 13.911 which earned a paycheck of $15,600 for the night. That pushed his semi-finals total to more than $20,000. But Bryant wasn’t even the biggest winner in barrel racing.

That honor went to Kelsey Lutjen of Casa Grande, Arizona, who had the fastest time of the three semi-finals performances and won more than $56,000 during the week. Lutjen is no stranger to the winner’s circle. She is an all-around rodeo athlete who qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo in goat tying and barrel racing.

Lutjen and Bryant are two of 10 barrel racers, including 12-year-old Nevada cowgirl Wylee Mitchell, who move on from the semi-finals.

Rowdy Parrott is admittedly not the biggest steer wrestler in the field at the semi-finals, but that didn’t keep him from a big payday anyway.

Parrott, from Mamou, Louisiana., had the biggest win of his career on Friday night. The 22-year-old has plenty of experience. He started competing in the eighth grade and learned fundamentals that serve him well now.

He used all of his 5’11’ frame and 180 pounds to bring a steer to the ground in 4.21 seconds and win $21,168. With help from his own horse and hazer Tyler Pearson from Louisville, Mississippi, Parrott now has a day to get ready for one of the most important steer-wrestling runs of his life as he competes at AT&T Stadium on Sunday.

“I learned early on that I was going to have to focus on technique and do things right if I was going to win,” Parrott said. “That all worked for me tonight. George was great. The steer ran straight and Tyler did an awesome job hazing. I’m ready for The American.”

George and Parrott will be a formidable team on Sunday. Pearson will be hazing again. If the winning combination goes all the way to a championship there, they will earn at least a piece of a $1 million bonus.

Timber Moore of Aubrey dominated the week in tie-down roping. He qualified for the semi-finals with two slots and he made the most of them. He had the fastest time of the night 7.08 seconds and posted an 8.30 on his other calf. He earned more than $51,000 during the semi-finals week, but will only rope once at AT&T Stadium.

Claudio Marcelina de Montanha Junior, the 2016 Brazilian champion bull rider, qualified for the semi-finals at a major championship in Brazil last year. The 27-year-old traveled to the U.S. and began competing in the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) last month. He rode Four Star Rodeo’s Broken Spoke for 86.75 points to place third Friday, but his total of 261.25 on three bulls earned him a check for $12,000. Oklahoman Jake Gowdy rode Frontier’s Show Off for 87.5 points, the night’s best score.

Californian Cody Snow and Wesley Thorp turned in a 4.6-second run to win their event. They won $17,069 as winners of the shoot-out, and took home more than $26,000 from the semi-finals. Thorp is the reigning collegiate champion heeler. They both competed at the National Finals Rodeo last December with different partners.

Former collegiate champion saddle bronc rider Clay Elliott of Nanton, Alberta, rode Frontier Rodeo’s Lonesome Night for 84.75 points and won almost $5,000 at RFD-TV’s The American Semi-Finals presented by Polaris RANGER in Fort Worth and earned a shot at $1 million on Sunday at The American at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Andy Watson

Canadian cowboy Clay Elliott, the 2015 college champion for Panhandle State University in Oklahoma, rode Frontier Rodeo’s Lonesome Night for 84.75 points. That earned him first in Friday’s round and the shoot-out championship for his total of 163 on two broncs, winning nearly $5,000.

Tilden Hooper didn’t have far to travel to win the bareback riding championship. The Weatherford resident has been battling chronic neck problems, but riding well at the semi-finals. Hooper advanced to the final round where he scored 86.5 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Night Fist. He earned $5,219, but more importantly one of the coveted spots to compete on Sunday.

The American Semi-Finals was the richest rodeo in the history Cowtown Coliseum, paying $941,375. Sunday’s The American pays a total of $2 million. One million is divided among the first and second-place finishers in each event. The second million is reserved for any of these 46 athletes who win an event. If more than one is successful, the bonus is divided among them. Tickets for The American, which begins at 1 p.m. Sunday are available through Ticketmaster.

The following are the Shoot-Out results from RFD-TV’s The American Semi-Finals rodeo at Cowtown Coliseum.

Bareback Bronc Riding: (Friday winners)1, Tilden Hooper, Weatherford, Texas, 86.5 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Night Fist, $1,185. 2, RC Landingham, Pendleton, Ore., 82.50, $889. 3, JR Vezain, Cowley, Wyo., 82.25, $593. 4, Wyatt Bloom, Bend, Ore., 81.50, $296. (total on two) 1, Tilden Hooper, Weatherford, Texas, 165.75 points, $3,146. 2, Wyatt Bloom, Bend, Ore., 165, $2,427. 3, Will Lowe, Canyon, Texas, 162.25, $1,618. 4, JR Vezain, Cowley, Wyo., 161.75, $1,079. 5, RC Landingham, Pendleton, Ore., 161.25, $719. 6-10, Steven Peebles, Redmond, Ore.; Blake Smith, Zap, N.D.; Grant Denny, Clements, Calif.; David Peebles, Powell Butte, Ore., and Layton Berry, Poolville, Texas, $375 each.

Steer Wrestling: (shoot-out winners) 1, Rowdy Parrott, Mamou, La., 4.21 seconds, $21,168. 2, Ryan Swayze, Freedom, Okla., 4.25, $14,312. 3, Jacob Shofner, Huntsville, Texas, 4.43, $9,695. 4, Cody Harmon, Dublin, Texas, 5.00, $5,277. 5, Blaine Jones, Templeton, Calif., 5.61, $4,417. 6, Chris Berry, Valley View, Texas, 6.08, $3,298. 7, Seth Brockman, Wheatland, Wyo., 6.21, $2,339. 8, Jeff Miller, Blue Mound, Kan., 6.34, $1,979. 9, Josh Garner, Live Oak, Calif., 6.46, $1,319. 10, Dean Gorsuch, Gering, Neb., 13.92, $660.

Team Roping: (shoot-out winners) 1, Cody Snow, Los Olivos, Calif., and Wesley Thorp, Stephenville, Texas, 4.60, $17,069. 2, Edward Hawley, Hays, Mont., and Ty Romo, Whiteriver, Ariz., 5.16, $10,668. 3, Matt Sherwood, Pima, Ariz., and Joel Bach, San Augustine, Texas, 5.47, $8,534. 4, Brenton Hall, Jay, Okla., and Paden Bray, Granbury, Texas, 9.69, $7,112. 5, Blake Hughes, Sulphur, Okla., and Brady Norman, Springer, Okla., 10.19, $6,401. 6, Travis Whitlow and Tanner Luttrell, San Tan Valley, Ariz., 14.58, $5,690. 7, Charly Crawford, Stephenville, Texas, and Joseph Harrison, Overbrook, Okla., $4,978. 8, Dustin Esgusquiza, Marianna, Fla., and Levi Lord, Stephenville, Texas, $4,267. 9, J.B. James, Bennett, Colo., and Brock Hanson, Casa Grande, Ariz., $3,556. 10, Andrew Ward, Edmond, Okla., and Brady Norman, Springer, Okla., $2,028.

Saddle Bronc Riding: (Friday winners) 1, Clay Elliot, Nanton, Alberta, 84.75 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Lonesome Night, $1,343. 2, Layton Green, Meet Creek, AB., 84.25, $1,007. 3, Louie Brunson, Interior, S.D., 82.75, $671. 4, Will Smith, Lugoff, S.C., 79, $336. (total on two) 1, Clay Elliot, Nanton, Alberta, 163, $3,651. 2, Layton Green, Meeting Creek, Alberta, 162.75, $2,816. 3, Cody DeMoss, Heflin, La., 159.5, $1,878. 4, Louie Brunson, Interior, S.D., 159.25, $1,252. 5, Will Smith, Lugoff, S.C., 155, $835. 6-10, Ryan McKenzie, Jordan Valley, Ore., Isaac Diaz, Desdemonda, Texas, Cole Elshere, Faith, S.D., Joaquin Real, Santa Paula, Calif., and Sage Newman, Melstone, Mont., $375.

Tie-Down Roping: (shoot-out winners) 1, Timber Moore, Aubrey, Texas., 7.08, $26,239. 2, Cory Solomon, Prairie View, Texas, 7.80, $17,493. 3, Landyn Duncan, Weatherford, Texas, 7.88, $11,927. 4, Timber Moore (B), Aubrey, Texas, 8.30, $6,361. 5, Ryan Thibodeaux, Eunace, La., 8.73, $5,566. 6, Ty Harris, San Angelo, Texas, 8.83, $3,976. 7, Blair Burk, Durant, Okla., 17.49, $3,180. 8, Westyn Hughes, Caldwell, Texas, $2,385. 9, Seth Cooke, Weatherford, Texas, $1,590. 10, Clint Cooper, Decatur, Texas., $795. (8-10 did not make a qualified run-money based on previous times.)

Barrel Racing: (Friday winners) 1, Jimmy Bryant, Columbus, Ind., 13.911 points, $3,604. 2, Lake Mehalic, Marana, Ariz., 13.974, $3,003. 3, Sophie Palmore, Kirbyville, Texas, 13.995, $2,402. 4, Terri Wood-Gates, West Jordan, Utah, 14.249, $1,802. 5, Lisa Nicholas, Briggs, Texas, 14.284, $1,201. (shoot-out winners)1, Kelsey Lutjen, Casa Grande, Ariz., 13.804, $43,544. 2, Brandon Cullins, Clements, Md., 13.833, $24,024. 3, Hailey Kinsel, Cotulla, Texas, 13.900, $19,520. 4, Chris Martin, Brookston, Texas, 13.910, $13,514. 5, Jimmy Bryant, Columbus, Ind., 13.911, $12,012. 6, Brianna Trepanier, Stephenville, Texas, 13.924, $10,511. 7, Lake Mehalic, Marana, Ariz., 13, 974, $9,009. 8, Sophie Palmore, Kirbyville, Texas, 13.995, $7,508. 9, Wylee Mitchell, Pioche, Nev., 14.012, $6,006. 10, Kellie Collier, Hereford, Texas, 14.020, $4,505.

Bull Riding: (Friday winners)1, Jake Gowdy, Bristow, Okla., 87.50 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Show Off, $883. 2, Derek Kolbaba, Walla Walla, Wash., 87.00, $662. 3, Claudio Marcelino de Montanha Junior, Ribeirão Dos Indios, São Paulo, Brazil, 86.75, $441. 4, Trey Benton, Huntsville, Texas, 86.5, $221. (total on two) 1, Claudio Marcelino de Montanha Junior, Ribeirão Dos Indios, São Paulo, Brazil, 261.25, $12,000. 2, Cole Melancon, Liberty, Texas, 259.25, $5,338. 3, Luciano Castro, Guzolandia, São Paulo, Brazil, 257.25, $4,170. 4, Trey Benton, Huntsville, Texas, 254.25, $3,169. 5, Stetson Lawrence, Trenton, 251.5, $2,335. 6, Luke Haught, Weatherford, Texas, 245.5, $1,668.

The following are those who advance to compete at RFD-TV’s The American, Sunday, February 19, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Bareback Bronc Riding: 1, Tilden Hooper, Weatherford, Texas. 2, Wyatt Bloom, Bend, Ore. 3, Will Lowe, Canyon, Texas. 4, JR Vezain, Cowley, Wyo. 5, RC Landingham, Pendleton, Ore.

Steer Wrestling: 1, Rowdy Parrott, Mamou, La. 2, Ryan Swayze, Freedom, Okla. 3, Jacob Shofner, Huntsville, Texas. 4, Cody Harmon, Dublin, Texas. 5, Blaine Jones, Templeton, Calif.

Team Roping: 1, Cody Snow, Los Olivos, Calif., and Wesley Thorp, Stephenville, Texas. 2, Edward Hawley, Hays, Mont., and Ty Romo, Whiteriver, Ariz. 3, Matt Sherwood, Pima, Ariz., and Joel Bach, San Augustine, Texas. 4, Brenton Hall, Jay, Okla., and Paden Bray, Granbury, Texas. 5, Blake Hughes, Sulphur, Okla., and Brady Norman, Springer, Okla.

Saddle Bronc Riding: 1, Clay Elliot, Nanton, Alberta. 2, Layton Green, Meeting Creek, Alberta. 3, Cody DeMoss, Heflin, La. 4, Louie Brunson, Interior, S.D. 5, Will Smith, Lugoff, S.C.

Tie-Down Roping: (six qualified) 1, Timber Moore, Aubrey, Texas. 2, Cory Solomon, Prairie View, Texas. 3, Landyn Duncan, Weatherford, Texas. 4, Ryan Thibodeaux, Eunace, La. 5, Ty Harris, San Angelo, Texas. 6, Blair Burk, Durant, Okla.

Barrel Racing: (ten qualified) 1, Kelsey Lutjen, Casa Grande, Ariz., 2, Brandon Cullins, Clements, Md. 3, Hailey Kinsel, Cotulla, Texas. 4, Chris Martin, Brookston, Texas. 5, Jimmy Bryant, Columbus, Ind. 6, Brianna Trepanier, Stephenville, Texas. 7, Lake Mehalic, Marana, Ariz. 8, Sophie Palmore, Kirbyville, Texas. 9, Wylee Mitchell, Pioche, Nev. 10, Kellie Collier, Hereford, Texas.

Bull Riding: 1, Claudio Marcelino de Montanha Junior, Ribeirão Dos Indios, São Paulo, Brazil. 2, Cole Melancon, Liberty, Texas. 3, Luciano Castro, Guzolandia, São Paulo, Brazil. 4, Trey Benton, Huntsville, Texas. 5, Stetson Lawrence, Trenton, N.D.