By: Neal Reid
December 11, 2016
LAS VEGAS – Shane Proctor just keeps adding hardware to his trophy case.
The 2011 PRCA champion bull rider now holds the title of Wrangler National Finals Rodeo average champion after a thrilling 10 days in Las Vegas. Proctor rode his first seven bulls en route to the coveted title after finishing as the only cowboy to cover more than six bulls at the 10-day rodeo.
Brennon Eldred – who won Round 9 with a whopping 94.5-point ride on 2016 PBR World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Bruiser – had a chance to snatch away the average crown in Round 10 after Proctor hit the ground at the 7-second mark while aboard Cowboy Up, but was turfed by Bomp Pop well before the whistle.
That left Proctor as the average champion with 590 points on seven rides, with Eldred taking second with 509.5 points on six and 2016 PRCA bull riding champion Sage Kimzey finishing third with a six-ride total of 501.
Proctor walked through the Thomas & Mack Center’s arena-level halls wearing a wide smile across his 31-year-old face after the win.
“It was a really great Finals, and I knew coming into today that I couldn’t finish any less than second in the average,” said Proctor, an eight-time NFR qualifier. “I was really excited about that. This is a week I’ll always remember.”
Proctor actually had a chance to clinch the average in Round 9 despite Eldred’s massive score, but was greeted rudely by 2015 PBR World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Long John. He also was frustrated by his buckoff in Round 10.
“I thought I had him gathered up good, and I felt squared, but I just kind of let my free hand get behind me,” Proctor said of Cowboy Up. “I’d been on that bull before and had seen him numerous times, and he’d always been out there to the right. So, it did kind of surprise me when he went out one more (jump) and went to the left.
“I felt good on him, but I just over-rode him and let my free arm get behind me, and it cost me.”
With $67,269 going to the average winner, Proctor earned an event-best $192,064 – the third-most of any of the 120 NFR contestants – to vault from 15th to third in the final PRCA world standings with $272,365. Kimzey won his third consecutive title with $311,451, while Eldred was second with $287,803.
Proctor was 7-for-7 to start the rodeo before Curley Bill got the better of him in Round 8. Proctor, who did not win the NFR average on his way to a gold buckle in 2011, had some mixed emotions after finishing with three straight buckoffs, but was still happy to take home the custom-made buckle and saddle given to each event’s average winner.
“I would have liked to have gone 10-for-10 and put my name in the history books, but it didn’t work out that way,” Proctor said. “But I did my job, and I won the average.”
Proctor was the only bull rider to qualify for both the PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals and the NFR in 2016.
Proctor covered two of the PRCA’s last three major award winners – 2014 PRCA Bull of the Year Cross the Wyoming Line in Round 2 and current PRCA Bull of the Year Midnight Bender – in the first two rounds to set the tone for a monster week in Las Vegas.
Adding an average title to his resume is a career goal Proctor was happy to check off his list.
“To distinguish myself among a lot of great bull riders, I figured I needed to win an average,” he said. “It was one of the things I hadn’t won here. I’d always placed in the top four, but I hadn’t ever gotten that average title won.
“It was something I was really striving for and working hard for, and luckily it worked out in the end.”
His NFR performance followed a tough showing at the PBR World Finals in which he went 0-for-5, but qualifying for both events is a matter of pride for the Grand Coulee, Washington, bull rider.
Proctor’s strong support network, he says, helped propel him to a great 2016 season.
“My wife (Jessi) is great with support, and I couldn’t do it without her,” he said. “She keeps everything running when I’m on the road, and then there’s my parents and all the fans. I couldn’t do it without all them, and I have so much support helping me down the road.”
Proctor won’t have much time to bask in the glow of his accomplishment, as he will once again hit the road for the 2017 season in a few short weeks.
The 2017 Built Ford Tough Series season begins in New York City’s Madison Square Garden for the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden Jan. 6-8.
“Our season starts in three weeks, and we enter Denver on Monday,” said Proctor, who said he averages roughly 180 outs a year. “So, it’s time to get started back. Those gold buckles are nice, but in the end, you’ve just got to go back and do it again.”
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