Russell Cardoza – Terrebonne, Ore. ($99,774)
6-time WNFR qualifier
4-time RNCFR qualifier
Russell Cardoza has become a master at finding a way to be humble in success yet taking pride in the efforts it took to get there.
Russell, who lives near Terrebonne, Oregon, is headed to his sixth Wrangler National Finals Rodeo as a heeler this year. He won $99,774 during the regular season to start the competition in Las Vegas in sixth place. At last year’s NFR, he won over $100,000 roping with Dustin Bird from Cut Bank, Montana.
He finished the 2016 season fifth in the all-around and sixth in the heeling world standings. He and Dustin have roped together for most of the 2017 season and have won titles at eight rodeos and tied for three others. Russell has also been competing in tie-down roping and steer wrestling to win all-around titles at five other rodeos. He is seventh in the all-around standings and has an outside shot to win the most coveted buckle in rodeo.
This year’s NFR will be the second time he has roped in the Thomas and Mack Center with Dustin. The duo was fun to watch there last year and the experience they have between them will make it fun again.
When Russell wins, he lets others do the celebrating and goes on about his business like he has been doing this all of his life. And he has. He competed at his first rodeo when he was just three years old.
If he was going to celebrate anything, it would be his horses, which he trains himself. In his professional career – which has spanned 11 years – he has never ridden a horse that ever had a rope thrown off of it before he got it.
He has thrown plenty of loops off of Terra, a 12-year-old bay mare that he has ridden most of this year. Having been trained by Russell, they know each other very well. Terra will put him right where he needs to be to catch two feet every time because that is what she was trained to do.
Russell’s wife of seven years, Sammy Jo also competes in rodeo. For 10 nights in Las Vegas, she will be in the stands on the edge of her seat as she watches her husband and Terra go to work.