LAS VEGAS – “Better late than never,” said Kaycee Feild. Although he hadn’t won a round at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo until Wednesday’s seventh performance, it didn’t lessen the joy for the two-time defending world champion bareback rider.
“It feels great. I’m so thrilled right now,” Feild said. “I haven’t been riding poorly and haven’t been drawing poorly, but I haven’t scored that well.”
The numbers back up his argument. Feild moved to first in the average with his 83-point ride on Calgary Stampede’s Shadow Warrior before 17,416 fans at the Thomas & Mack Center. He also passed four-time champ Bobby Mote for first in the world standings with $168,251. He leads Mote – who missed out his horse in Round 6 and has little chance of winning an average check – by more than $14,000 and third-place Will Lowe, a three-time champ, by nearly $22,000.
Feild is trying to become the first bareback rider to win three consecutive world championships since ProRodeo Hall of Famer Joe Alexander earned five straight from 1971-75. Alexander followed that with two regular-season championships (1976-77), in years the world title was decided by solely performances at the NFR.
“Yeah, I know he could’ve won seven,” Feild said.
The official record for bareback riding gold buckles is five, which Feild has in his sights.
“My ultimate goal is to beat five world championships,” Feild said. “I want to win at least six. I’m still pretty young (26) for a bareback rider.”
Feild was listed on the Justin Sportsmedicine Team’s injury report earlier in the rodeo, but said his back feels better.
“The first two nights I was really feeling it, and felt like I didn’t have enough power in my legs to help the horse,” he said. “I’d say it was 100 percent tonight.”
So, does the machine-like Feild feel like he’s in control to claim another title?
“I don’t feel that way at all,” he said. “When you set your gear down back there with the top 15 in the world, you know anybody can take advantage like I did tonight. I feel like I’m doing what I want, what I intended. I haven’t made any mistakes.”
The amazing Cody Ohl claimed his fourth round win of the week, his third outright, in the tie-down roping and equaled Trevor Brazile’s round-seven record of 6.7 seconds. Ohl has won $72,566 in the first seven rounds, and holds a lead of $20,626 over two-time defending champ Tuf Cooper, who missed his calf with his first loop and had to climb back on his horse and use his second rope to get a time of 22.4 seconds.
It was Ohl’s 48th tie-down roping round win, extending his own record, and his 51st overall (he’s won three others in steer roping), tying saddle bronc rider Billy Etbauer for second place overall, four behind Brazile.
Ohl said he was inspired by events back at his ranch.
“It was the birthday of Myles Mayfield today; he’s one of my hired hands back home,” Ohl said. “He lost his mom this year to cancer and he said win this one for me and Mom. There could’ve been 100,000 ropers tonight and I don’t think anybody was going to beat me, I promise you. We tried as hard as you can try.”
Ohl is gunning for his seventh world championship, sixth in tie-down roping. His strategy is to stay aggressive.
“We’re going to go at all three of these like three one-headers and see how it plays out,” he said.
Brazile took second in the round in 7.3 seconds, and moved up to fourth in the average. The 19-time world champion was also second in team roping in Round 7; it was the first time a cowboy had won a check in the same round in two events since Brazile did it in 2010.
World team roping standings leaders Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill tied for the round win with Dustin Bird and Paul Eaves in a quick 4.1 seconds.
“I’ve been ready to make a trip to the South Point (home of the go-round buckle presentations) for a week now,” Bird said.
“Dustin’s roped really good here,” Eaves said. “He’s turned two steers to win the round, and I haven’t really held up my end of the deal yet. So it was good to catch one tonight. I wasn’t doing a very good job getting into position on these steers at the start of the week. I’ve been a little too distracted thinking about my position. Tonight all I thought about was being dialed in on the feet.”
Tryan and Corkill have won $54,988 at the Finals and lead their closest pursuers in the world standings, Riley and Brady Minor, by about $30,000.
“Breaking the five-second barrier tonight was my goal,” Tryan said. “If we catch the next three good, we’ll win it, no matter what anybody else does.”
Corkill, the defending world champion heeler, said he just wants to remain steady.
“I’m just going to try to do the same thing I do everywhere,” he said. “I’m going to get into good position, take a good shot and not do anything stupid. If things are set up good I’m going to throw. We need to keep placing in the go-rounds and win something in the average, too.”
Jake Wright won his third round of the 2013 Finals with 84.5 points on J Bar J’s Special Time. He had to sweat out three re-rides by Cort Scheer, who finally posted 80.5 points and claimed third place.
Wright moved into first place in the world standings – ahead of his older brother, Cody, a two-time world champ – and also improved to third in the average. Jake Wright, 23, is trying to win his first world title, the year after his twin brother, Jesse, won his first crown.
“Everybody thinks about winning a world title often, but I try not to think about it because it makes me so nervous I could puke,” Jake Wright said. “But this is a long ways from over with the average in there, and three nights is a long time at the NFR. Anything can happen. I’m going to keep spurring them and see what happens.”
Earning a gold buckle would be satisfying, he said, but he’s not worried about matching his brothers.
“It’s always been a goal of mine, and I don’t want one just because they each have them,” he said. “It’s something I’ve worked at my whole life and it’s something I want for myself; I’d love to have a gold buckle. I feel real confident with my riding right now and I’m just happy to be in the running for the world title.”
Cody Wright is second in the world – $2,661 behind Jake – while Jesse Wright is fifth in the standings.
“I wouldn’t rather go against anyone else for the greatest buckle in rodeo,” Jake Wright said. “I’ll honestly be happy as long as the buckle comes home with the Wrights. I always want to win it, but I also like to have a good time and support everyone else.”
Only five bull riders stayed on for eight seconds – half as many as Round 6 – and defending World Champion Cody Teel was the winner, going for 85 points on Bar T Rodeo’s Slim Chance. Teel moved into second place in the average and second in the world standings, but is more than $55,000 behind leader J.W. Harris.
“It was just one of those nights where an 85 was good enough to win, even though it wasn’t my best ride of the week,” Teel said. “Sometimes when you keep staying on your bulls, it all comes around for you eventually. I’ve seen that bull before, and he’s a little older now, but he’s still a solid draw.”
Teel said competing at his second Finals is easier than last year.
“I’m having fun and I’m way more relaxed,” he said. “It’s not really because I’ve already won a gold buckle, it’s more that I don’t have those first-time jitters anymore and I know what’s going on. I knew what to expect and I knew what it’d be like to climb behind those chutes, which has helped my riding.”
Matt Reeves grabbed a piece of history when he won the steer wrestling in 3.1 seconds, breaking the round-seven record by one-tenth of a second that was jointly held by Rod Lyman (1989) and Cash Myers (2001). The arena record is 3.0 seconds set by Steve Duhon (1986) and equaled by Bryan Fields (2001).
Bray Armes, who leads the average by 2.7 seconds over world standings leader Casey Martin, was second in the round with 3.9 seconds.
Reeves has won $37,260 at this year’s Wrangler NFR and moved into second place in the world standings at $127,626, just $1,745 behind Martin. Reeves, who had a no-time in Round 6, is ninth in the average.
“I couldn’t have been more depressed (Tuesday),” Reeves said. “All of my family, for the most part, had pretty much left and I just had the torture of last night. It was terrible. I walked in tonight and everybody was mad at me and they didn’t have to say anything. I knew I had a good draw. That steer was 3.1 twice before I drew him.
“I can’t say that I made a perfect run, but when you rock his head, he is gone. You can’t safety up and be late. I got a great start tonight and we caught up fast. I really didn’t know how fast it was, but I knew a lot of things happened real fast.
“That’s the fastest time I’ve ever had.”
Barrel racer Taylor Jacob didn’t match her WNFR record run of 13.37 from Round 6, but did win in 13.47, her fourth victory in seven rounds. The Women’s Professional Rodeo Association Rookie of the Year has equaled or broken every round record in her four wins.
Sherry Cervi, who has earned a check in every round and has two round wins, leads the average and is first in the world with $222,638, more than $30,000 ahead of defending champ Mary Walker. Jacob has climbed to third in the standings with $164,484 but is sixth in the average, 8.86 seconds behind Cervi after hitting barrels and incurring penalties in the first two rounds.
“Well hitting barrels is never good,” Jacob said. “But I’m not dwelling on it. In fact, I’m using it as an advantage. Now that I don’t have to think average, I am not holding anything back and am having fun just going all out for the round wins.”
Jacob also leads the Ram Truck Top Gun Award standings with $82,432. Cervi is second with $75,220. Ohl is third, followed by Jake Wright ($68,810), Hanchey ($68,359) and two-time world champ Harris ($67,007).
Wrangler National Finals Rodeo
Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas – Round 7
Steer wrestling: 1. Matt Reeves, Cross Plains, Texas, 3.1 seconds, $18,630; 2. Bray Armes, Ponder, Texas, 3.9, $14,724; 3. (tie) Stan Branco, Chowchilla, Calif., and Dean Gorsuch, Gering, Neb., 4.0, $9,465 each; 5. Trevor Knowles, Mount Vernon, Ore., 4.1, $4,808; 6. Casey Martin, Sulphur, La., 4.3, $3,005; 7. Tyler Pearson, Louisville, Miss., 4.7; 8. Jason Miller, Lance Creek, Wyo., 6.7; 9. Wade Sumpter, Fowler, Colo., 7.2; 10. Hunter Cure, Holliday, Texas, 7.5; 11. Dakota Eldridge, Elko, Nev., 8.5; 12. K.C. Jones, Decatur, Texas, 14.0; 13. (tie) Jule Hazen, Ashland, Kan.; Straws Milan, Cochrane, Alberta; and Luke Branquinho, Los Alamos, Calif., NT.
Team roping: 1. (tie) Clay Tryan, Billings, Mont./Jade Corkill, Fallon, Nev., and Dustin Bird, Cut Bank, Mont./Paul Eaves, Lonedell, Mo., 4.1 seconds, $16,677 each; 3. Riley Minor, Ellensburg, Wash./Brady Minor, Ellensburg, Wash., 4.6, $11,118; 4. Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas/Patrick Smith, Lipan, Texas, 4.8, $7,813; 5. Justin Van Davis, Madisonville, Texas/Clay O’Brien Cooper, Gardnerville, Nev., 6.3, $4,808; 6. Brandon Beers, Powell Butte, Ore./Jim Ross Cooper, Monument, N.M., 7.3, $3,005; 7. Derrick Begay, Seba Dalkai, Ariz./Cesar de la Cruz, Tucson, Ariz., 9.2; 8. Turtle Powell, Stephenville, Texas/Dugan Kelly, Paso Robles, Calif., 9.6; 9. Luke Brown, Stephenville, Texas/Kollin VonAhn, Blanchard, Okla., 12.0; 10. Erich Rogers, Round Rock, Ariz./Cory Petska, Marana, Ariz., 14.1; 11. (tie) Kaleb Driggers, Albany, Ga./Travis Graves, Jay, Okla.; Nick Sartain, Dover, Okla./Rich Skelton, Llano, Texas; Drew Horner, Plano, Texas/Buddy Hawkins II, Columbus, Kan.; Charly Crawford, Prineville, Ore./Ryan Motes, Weatherford, Texas, and Colby Lovell, Madisonville, Texas/Martin Lucero, Stephenville, Texas, NT.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Jake Wright, Milford, Utah, 84.5 points on J Bar J’s Special Time, $18,630; 2. Chad Ferley, Oelrichs, S.D., 83.5, $14,724; 3. Cort Scheer, Elsmere, Neb., 80.5, $11,118; 4. (tie) Cody Wright, Milford, Utah, and Taos Muncy, Corona, N.M., 79.5, $6,310 each; 6. Jacobs Crawley, Stephenville, Texas, 75, $3,005; 7. Heith DeMoss, Heflin, La., 74; 8. Wade Sundell, Boxholm, Iowa, 63.5; 9. (tie) Jesse Wright, Milford, Utah; Tyler Corrington, Hastings, Minn.; Isaac Diaz, Desdemona, Texas; Cole Elshere, Faith, S.D.; Sterling Crawley, Stephenville, Texas; Chet Johnson, Sheridan, Wyo.; and Bradley Harter, Weatherford, Texas, NS.
Tie-down roping: 1. Cody Ohl, Hico, Texas, 6.7 seconds, $18,630; 2. Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas, 7.3, $14,724; 3. (tie) Scott Kormos, Teague, Texas, and Shane Hanchey, Sulphur, La., 7.7, $9,465 each; 5. Stetson Vest, Childress, Texas, 7.9, $4,808; 6. Clif Cooper, Decatur, Texas, 8.2, $3,005; 7. Shane Slack, Idabel, Okla., 8.9; 8. Timber Moore, Aubrey, Texas, 9.1; 9. Caleb Smidt, Bellville, Texas, 9.2; 10. Randall Carlisle, Baton Rouge, La., 10.3; 11. Tyson Durfey, Colbert, Wash., 10.6; 12. Ryan Jarrett, Comanche, Okla., 19.7; 13. Tuf Cooper, Decatur, Texas, 22.4; 14. (tie) Justin Maass, Giddings, Texas, and Sterling Smith, Stephenville, Texas, NT.
Barrel racing: 1. Taylor Jacob, Carmine, Texas, 13.47 seconds, $18,630; 2. Michele McLeod, Whitesboro, Texas, 13.48, $14,724; 3. Mary Walker, Ennis, Texas, 13.54, $11,118; 4. Trula Churchill, Valentine, Neb., 13.67, $7,813; 5. Sherry Cervi, Marana, Ariz., 13.72, $4,808; 6. Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, S.D., 13.83, $3,005; 7. Kaley Bass, Kissimmee, Fla., 13.90; 8. Jane Melby, Burneyville, Okla., 13.91; 9. (tie) Fallon Taylor, Whitesboro, Texas, and Shada Brazile, Decatur, Texas, 14.00 each; 11. Christy Loflin, Franktown, Colo., 14.17; 12. Brittany Pozzi, Victoria, Texas, 18.82; 13. Sydni Blanchard, Albuquerque, N.M., 18.85; 14. Jean Winters, Texline, Texas, 19.14; 15. Sabrina Ketcham, Yeso, N.M., 24.29.
Bull riding: 1. Cody Teel, Kountze, Texas, 85 points on Bar T Rodeo’s Slim Chance, $18,630; 2. Cooper Davis, Jasper, Texas, 84, $14,724; 3. Parker Breding, Edgar, Mont., 80.5, $11,118; 4. Josh Koschel, Nunn, Colo., 79.5, $7,813; 5. Tyler Willis, Wheatland, Wyo., 74.5, $4,808; 6. (tie) J.W. Harris, Mullin, Texas; Shane Proctor, Grand Coulee, Wash.; Trevor Kastner, Ardmore, Okla.; Trey Benton III, Rock Island, Texas; Chandler Bownds, Lubbock, Texas; Cody Campbell, Summerville, Ore.; Cole Echols, Elm Grove, La.; Elliot Jacoby, Fredricksburg, Texas; Tyler Smith, Fruita, Colo.; and Steve Woolsey, Payson, Utah, NS.