ARLINGTON, Texas – The drama is over in the PRCA all-around world championship race. Stetson Wright took care of that with a go-round to spare.
For the second consecutive year, Wright won the all-around gold buckle.
The Milford, Utah, cowboy officially clinched the title when he won Round 9 in the bull riding with a 92-point ride on Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Record Rack’s Smoke Stack at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo at Globe Life Field, Dec. 11 to add another $26,231 to his haul.
At 21, Wright is the youngest cowboy to be crowned All-Around World Champion in his first two seasons.
He’s trying to become the first cowboy to win the all-around gold buckle and a roughstock world championship in the same year since Ty Murray did it in 1998. Murray won the all-around and bull riding titles that year.
Wright has $305,360 in the all-around PRCA | RAM World Standings. Tuf Cooper is at $179,412 while reigning two-time world champion header Clay Smith is third in the all-around standings with $159,699. Neither can catch Wright.
“I have no words for it other than I’m happy to do it again,” Wright said. “I expected it from myself, but I didn’t want to say anything until it was final. I wanted to keep on keeping on, so this just makes me happy. I worked hard at this all year. It was a tough year and a tougher year than it was last year.
“To get it this year means a lot, and winning it again makes me feel good because everybody might say that the first one was off pure luck, but how many times can you be so lucky.”
Wright clinched his second all-around crown with an amazing 2020 Wrangler NFR that doesn’t end until Dec. 12.
Wright has won Rounds 1, 2, 7 and 9 in bull riding and added a Round 7 win in saddle bronc riding. He was the first cowboy to win two roughstock events in one night at the Finals since 2001. In Round 4 that year, Jesse Bail split the win in saddle bronc riding and won the bull riding outright.
“The key for me has just been to keep a level head,” Wright said. “I just go out there and do my thing and not worry about whether 90 points the night before or zero. You just have to forget about it and move on and make the best ride you can the next time. That’s what my dad (Cody) has preached to us, and you have to have a level head and just keep doing your thing.”
Wright is the first cowboy to win back-to-back all-around gold buckles since Trevor Brazile in 2014-15. Wright is the first cowboy to qualify for multiple Wrangler NFR roughstock events since Bail qualified in saddle bronc riding and bull riding in 2003.
Brazile has won a PRCA-record 26 gold buckles, including a PRCA-record 14 in all-around (2002-04, 2006-15, 2018).
“It is kind of hard to put my name next to him (Brazile),” Stetson said. “He has 26. I have to win a few more to even be in the same sentence as him.”
Wright had a simple plan for celebrating Friday night.
“I’m going home to get some sleep and keep a level head, there’s still another day,” Wright said. “I’m just going to try and do my best (Saturday) and keep pushing.”
Wright is in a tight battle to win his first career bull riding world championship. He’s second in the world standings with $204,479. He trails standings-leader Ty Wallace by a mere $82. Wright is second in the average with 450 points on five head. Wallace is third with 444.5 points on five. Stetson is seventh in the saddle bronc riding world standings.
“I’m going to root on every bronc rider and root on every bull rider and one of us is going to walk out of here a world champion,” Wright said.
BARREL RACER KINSEL ON CUSP OF ANOTHER TITLE
Barrel racer Hailey Kinsel’s amazing Wrangler NFR keeps improving with each round.
The Cotulla, Texas, cowgirl won her fifth round of the NFR – Round 9 with a 16.81-second run.
Kinsel leads the world standings with $261,076 and is on the cusp of winning her third consecutive world title.
Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi is in second place in the world standings with $169,494 and still mathematically has a chance to win the world title. Tonozzi needs to win the Round 10 and NFR average and Kinsel would have to not earn any money in Round 10 or the average.
“This is insane,” Kinsel said. “I wanted to have a good Finals and I prepped to have a good Finals, but you can’t even get this by just work. It’s like super-natural stuff going on. I’m up here going, what next?”
Kinsel will have a strong understanding of what she needs to do in Round 10 before she arrives at Globe Life Field.
“I’m a numbers person. I’m going to look at it and see what I need to do in the last round,” she said. “If I need to make a clean round there’s a chance I’ll change horses. I’m shuffling back to the bottom again, so I’ll be sixth out after the tractor. It looked great tonight, from what I could tell. But it’s definitely firmed up and packed up, so I want to watch it close and see.
“My horse (Sister) has been incredible and she owes me zip, zero. If I can get on something to go make a nice clean run like the sorrel horse I ran in Round 6, I’ve got a black horse and a young mare that we prepped to make runs, and if I need to do that I won’t hesitate.”
CASPER KEEPS APPLYING PRESSURE IN SADDLE BRONC RIDING
Wyatt Casper is making his first trip to the Wrangler NFR and has represented himself well.
The Texas cowboy came in as the world-standings leader and remains in a battle with Ryder Wright to win a gold buckle.
Casper kept the race tight by winning Round 9 with an 88-point ride on Calgary Stampede’s Xena Warrior.
“That horse just felt like she was getting better and better every jump,” Casper said. “As the ride went on, I was getting a good seat and getting a good hold with my feet. It felt good.”
Wright split second in the round with an 87-point ride on Four Star Rodeo’s Wall Street.
Heading into Round 10, Wright leads the world standings with $267,721. Casper is second with $266,407.
Wright, who won the 2017 world title, is first in the average with 785.5 points on nine head, followed by Casper with 690.5 points on eight head.
Casper has won two rounds at his inaugural Wrangler NFR, Rounds 5 and 9. He’s placed in seven rounds and earned $121,269.
“This week has been unreal,” Casper said. “Just lucky to be able to beat all those great bronc riders. Anybody can win. To be able to draw good horses like that and come away with checks in seven of nine nights so far has been unreal.
“I don’t know if I ever pictured coming to the NFR and being in this close of a race, but it’s dang sure going to be a nail-biter. I like the competition. I like having to do well to win.”
BAREBACK RIDER REINER GRABS SECOND GO-ROUND WIN
After winning Round 6 with an 87-point ride on Flying U Rodeo’s Lil Hawk, Cole Reiner doubled his pleasure at his Wrangler NFR debut.
The Wyoming native had an 89.5-point trip on Calgary Stampede’s Arbitrator Joe to win Round 9.
“That was pretty exciting to have that happen after last night’s round didn’t go too well for a lot of us,” said Reiner, who was bucked off. “In Round 8, I was able to come back and re-prove to myself and everyone here that I belong here and I can do this. It’s a cool feeling.”
Reiner is seventh in the world standings with $133,594. He has earned $88,551 at the NFR.
“My goal was to come here and win at least one round, and after I won that one (Round 6) I figured why stop at one,” Reiner said. “It’s too much fun and excitement and a great feeling. To be able to do it twice in one year is really special.”
STEER WRESTLERS REEVES, WAGUESPACK, TALLEY SPLIT ROUND 9
The Round 9 win in steer wrestling was celebrated by a trio of cowboys – Matt Reeves, Tyler Waguespack and Jacob Talley – as they each had 3.5-second runs.
“Everybody is really good, the horses have been good, that set of steers is outstanding,” Reeves said. “Three-point-eight has been the bottom every night. That’s just a phenomenal set of animals. Everybody here is just good. It’s not tight every year for no reason.”
Waguespack also split the Round 2 win in 3.8.
“I was very pleased with my run,” Waguespack said. “The steer I had they had had some success on this week already. I got a great start riding Scooter, put my feet on the ground in a great spot and was able to finish.”
“I drew good, too,” said Talley, who won Round 4 in 3.4 seconds. “They had success on him too early in the week. Riding the horses we’re riding, it just makes it easy. We just have to do our job. I want to win the round tomorrow, too.”
Reeves is first in the world standings with $155,681. Talley’s third with $138,329, and Waguespack’s fourth at $126,210.
“Bear down, hit the barrier and win some,” Reeves said about his plan for Round 10.
Waguespack had a simple approach for Saturday night.
“Got one more and hopefully can finish off the Finals strong, see how much we can get out of this week,” Waguespack said.
TWO SETS OF TEAM ROPERS SPLIT ROUND 9
Colby Lovell and Paul Eaves are making the most of their opportunities in the Wrangler NFR after being knocked out of the average.
The duo won their second round in a row with a 3.8-second time. They shared the winner’s circle with Chad Masters and Wesley Thorp, who also made a 3.8-second run to get their first go-round win of the 2020 Wrangler NFR.
Lovell and Eaves are leading their respective world standings with $161,605 and $152,255.
“Everyone wants this all week, but to finish what you started is good,” Eaves said.
Lovell said Round 8’s performance was a catalyst for the Round 9 win.
“Last night (Dec. 10) kind of got the ball rolling,” Lovell said. “A go-round always helps when placing first or second, it just paves the way for these last couple of steers and just gets the momentum and confidence going. The steer tonight and the steer last night dang sure helped the week out.
“The times might not say it, but you never know what the cows might be like. It might be the strong pen, but the steers are getting tricky toward the end, and it’s pretty fierce every night.”
In 2009, Masters set the Wrangler NFR Round 9 record at 3.3 seconds.
“I guess it’s just my lucky round,” Masters said. “I wish I had a reason why it works out or doesn’t, but it just seems to go my way sometimes.”
Masters won team roping header world championships in 2007 and 2012. Thorp is the reigning 2019 team roping heeler world champ.
“We had a really good steer, you couldn’t draw a better one than that,” Thorp said. “We had some stronger ones the last couple of nights and we were glad to have a good one.”
Masters was quick to praise his partner.
“I knew if I could just get out of the barrier and catch the cow that he would be in a good spot and we’d have a good chance on him,” Masters said.
TUF COOPER GETS FIRST GO-ROUND WIN OF 2020 NFR
Tie-down roper Tuf Cooper has struggled during the 2020 Wrangler NFR, especially in the first seven rounds, placing just twice – fourth in Round 4 and second in Round 7.
On Friday, the four-time world champ captured a victory in Round 9 with a 6.9-second run.
“I won the ninth go-round when I was 18 years old, my first round win, so it’s cool to come back and win the ninth round this year,” said Cooper, who won tie-down roping titles in 2011-12 and 2014 and the all-around in 2017. “I’m very grateful we’re having the NFR here in Texas. It’s been a rough go these first eight rounds, but here we are, I got the round win and there is another round ahead of us. We’re just grateful for the opportunity, everybody coming out, supporting the NFR in Texas and having it live, it’s really awesome for everybody.”
Cooper has ridden three horses at this NFR.
“Tonight, I rode Cade Swor’s horse,” he said. “He’s a younger horse, he fits me really well. Cade has ridden him throughout the year and has seasoned him. The horse has a bright future ahead of him. I can score good, go out the way I want to. I’m thankful I get to ride him.
“With one round left I get to come back here at Globe Life and just take it all in. I get to compete and do what I love to do in front of fans live.”
Courtesy of PRCA