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Isaac Diaz’s Triple Crown of Rodeo Journey Ends While Underdogs Prevail at Rodeo Carolina

By: Kyle Jones

MILL SPRING, N.C. – The WCRA (World Champions Rodeo Alliance) closed out the final leg of their 2023 WCRA Triple of Rodeo (TCR) Sunday evening at the inaugural Rodeo Carolina in Mill Spring, North Carolina, at Tryon International. The event marked Saddle Bronc rider Isaac Diaz’s (Desdemona, Texas) third stop en route to winning the Triple Crown of Rodeo.

Diaz emerged victorious in the fiercely competitive 2023 Triple Crown of Rodeo series, winning two WCRA TCR events and needing to win Rodeo Carolina to claim the $1 million bonus. The annual TCR bonus, presented by Lazy E Ranch and Arena, awards $1 million to any athlete or group of athletes who win first place in any three consecutive WCRA Major Rodeos. The most recent event for the Triple Crown of Rodeo was held in May 2023 in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Isaac Diaz, a 37-year-old saddle bronc rider, entered the event with two consecutive wins under his belt to put him in contention to be the second victor of the WCRA Triple Crown of Rodeo. In the TCR round, he faced off against 20-year-old Gus Gaillard (Morse, Texas) and four-time NFR Qualifier Cole Elshere (Faith, South Dakota). Last to ride, Diaz needed to earn a higher marked ride than Gaillard’s 86 points. He entered the round with the top average from the progressive rounds. Composed and collected, Diaz loaded into the chute atop Awesome Sauce and readied for what would be a career-defining and historic moment in the sport of rodeo. Diaz attempted to beat the 86 points but fell short, earning an 81.0 score, eliminating him from the Triple Crown of Rodeo and the $1 million cash bonus.

During the action-packed afternoon at Tryon International, bareback riding, the first discipline of the Triple Crown of Rodeo round, had fans on the edge of their seats. Mason Clements (Spanish Fork, Utah), Leighton Berry (Weatherford, Texas), and Chad Rutherford (Itasca, Texas) rode supreme in the Triple Crown of Rodeo Round courtesy of their 85-plus-point rides. The three quickly became immersed in a shootout for the $15,000 Major payday in the round. Tying for the round, Clements and Berry became event winners after they both delivered a critical 86-point ride.

The team roping title was won by the duo of header Marcus Theriot (Poplarville, Mississippi) and heeler Cole Curry (Liberty, Mississippi), notching a 5.97-second run. The duo distanced themselves from the second-place team by more than five seconds. Andrew Ward (Edmond, Oklahoma) and Buddy Hawkins (Stephenville, Texas) logged their second consecutive WCRA runner-up position with a 9.87-second effort. Theriot and Curry’s victory ended Riley Kittle and Jace Helton’s hopes as they aimed to win their second straight WCRA title.

Tory Johnson (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) was unstoppable in steer wrestling. The six-time WCRA event qualifier recorded a 3.84-second run in each progressive round before delivering a lightning-fast 3.75-second effort in the Triple Crown of Rodeo round. This is Johnson’s first WCRA victory.

As one of only two bull riders to cover, Wyatt Rogers (Locust Grove, Oklahoma) scored an 85 atop Amish Burnout and found himself edging out Chase Wimer’s (Emmett, Arkansas) 75.5-point score and Deklan Garland’s (Marlo, Oklahoma) 83.

Maelee Wade delivered the only qualified time in breakaway roping with a stealth 2.45-second time. Wade ran a 2.76-second time in progressive round one and a 2.76-second run in Progressive round two. Wade collected the ground money, and her first-place win and $25,850 in weekly earnings took Kelsie Domer (Cherokee, Oklahoma) out of the running for her second consecutive WCRA victory.

Trevor Hale (Perryton, Texas) won the tie-down title at Rodeo Carolina courtesy of his 8.65-second run in the Triple Crown of Rodeo Round. Hale topped Garrett Elemore’s (Springer, Oklahoma) 8.74 and Glenn Jackson’s 9.92-second time. Shad Mayfield received a no-time, knocking him out of the race for the Triple Crown of Rode $1 Million bonus. In the barrel racing 2023 Rodeo Corpus Christi Runner-up Stephanie Fryar (Waco, Texas) and stallion “Frank” Martini expertly navigated the course as her 16.69-second run in the final round was the quickest, distancing runner-up Julie Plourde (Sait-gedeon, QC) who recorded a 16.804-second run.

All Rodeo Carolina event champions and earnings for the event:

Name Discipline Total Earnings
Mason Clements Bareback $16,750.00
Leighton Berry Bareback $13,250.00
Tory Johnson Steer Wrestling $15,000.00
Wyatt Rogers Bull Riding $18,875.00
Maelee Wade Breakaway Roping $25,850.00
Trevor Hale Tie-Down $17,000.00
Stephanie Fryar Barrel Racing $18,000.00
Gus Gaillard Saddle Bronc $18,350.00
Marcus Theriot & Cole Curry Team Roping $16,850.00

 
Since launching in May of 2018, the WCRA and its partners have awarded more than $16,500,000 in new money to rodeo athletes.

On Nov. 18 at 1 p.m. ET, fans can tune into Rodeo Carolina Triple Crown of Rodeo Round on a CBS network broadcast.

All results from the event can be found here.

© 2023 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.

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