GREELEY, Colo. – September 11 is a somber day of remembrance, but bareback rider Blaine Kaufman created an uplifting memory for himself that will last a lifetime, winning the first round of the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo with an 89-point ride on Hi Lo ProRodeo’s Wilson Sanchez.
Wilson Sanchez was the same horse that Mason Clements won on during the final round of the 2018 RAM NCFR.
“I was stoked to see I’d drawn her,” Kaufman said. “I’ve seen her buck a lot of times, and to finally get on her at the biggest rodeo of the year that I’m going to – I’m surely blessed and that’s pretty much it.”
Wilson Sanchez is a celebrity among ProRodeo bareback riders.
Logan Corbett tied the highest-scored bareback ride of the 2017 season with a 92-point ride on Wilson Sanchez to win the Southern New Mexico State Fair. More recently, Richmond Champion tied for fourth place in the seventh round of the 2019 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo with 87.5 points on Wilson Sanchez.
Now the horse is a two-time round winner at the NCFR.
Kaufman competed at the RAM NCFR last year in Kissimmee, Fla., but the COVID-19 pandemic’s domino effect culminated in the event moving to Greeley, which was a welcomed change for Kaufman.
“It’s pretty fun, and I’m glad they actually got it rescheduled,” Kaufman said. “I was pretty stoked to hear it is in Greeley since my in-laws live in Fort Lupton (Colo.), which is close by.”
The 28-year-old cowboy from Pretty Prairie, Kan., has won $90,236 since his rookie year in 2014. His best season was in 2018 when he finished 34th in the PRCA | RAM World Standings with $30,692.
Kaufman was the 2019 year-end bareback riding champion for the Prairie Circuit and won the 2019 RAM Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo in October. He also won Nebraska’s Big Rodeo in Burwell with 89 points on Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Bar Talk on July 25.
Entering the weekend, Kaufman was 48th in the 2020 world standings with $7,247. Although the $3,735 he won during Round 1 in Greeley won’t count toward the world standings, that doesn’t make it any less significant for him.
“You have guys from the NFR you are butting heads with, but you just have to look at it as another rodeo,” Kaufman said.
Kaufman will return on Saturday for the second round where the top eight in the average will advance to Sunday’s semifinals.
As far as making a run for the 2021 Wrangler NFR, Kaufman hasn’t ruled it out.
“I’m just going to roll with the punches, and we’ll see what happens,” Kaufman said. “A win here would help tremendously financially and confidence-wise.”
The rodeo runs through Sunday. For tickets, call 970.356.7787.
Fans can catch the RAM NCFR on the PRCA on Cowboy Channel Plus App on Sept. 12 at 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. (ET) and Sept. 13 at 4 p.m.
Greeley means gold for Ty Erickson
In steer wrestling, reigning world champion Ty Erickson won the first round with his 3.8-second run Friday night.
Erickson earned $3,735 for his performance.
“It felt good,” Erickson said about his run. “I got off the corner a little faster than I wanted to, and I was a little worried about breaking the barrier. Once I got my hands on the steer, he felt great and I was glad the way I finished because this year it hasn’t been going that way.”
Erickson was riding Crush, 9, Friday.
“I rode Crush at the NFR last year, and I have a lot of confidence in him and just wanted to bring him down here,” Erickson said.
Erickson has had good fortune at Island Grove Regional Park in Greeley. He won the Greeley Stampede in 2014.
This season, which has been a roller-coaster ride because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Erickson is trying to qualify for his seventh consecutive NFR.
Erickson is 20th in the latest world standings with $28,451.
“This win gives a guy a lot of confidence even though this (RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo) doesn’t count for the world standings this year,” Erickson said. “This helps you get confidence for the next steer. This year has just been what it is with all the rodeos canceling, and no guy can blame them for that. It has been hard to get on a roll just because there have been so few rodeos. You can go to a rodeo and do well and then wait another week to go to another one.”
First round results
Other winners of the first round were team ropers Jacob Dagenhart/Zack Mabry (5.1 seconds); saddle bronc riders Shorty Garrett (86 points on Sutton Rodeos’ Sweet Emotion) and Stetson Wright (86 points on Stace Smith Pro Rodeos’ Midnight Cowboy); tie-down roper Jesse Popescul and Jake Pratt (9.2 seconds each); barrel racer Jimmie Smith (17.17 seconds); and bull rider Jeff Bertus (90.5 points on Andrews Rodeo’s Cool Arrow).
Courtesy of PRCA