Farewell to a Champion
With several races going own to the wire, leaders and contenders took a back seat to a spectacular ride in the saddle bronc riding. After watching his brother win three consecutive rounds, Canada’s Dawson Hay decided it was his time to shine. The Wildwood, Alberta cowboy couldn’t have picked a better dance partner. World Champion, and much decorated 17 year old mare from the Beutler and Son Rodeo firm, BDM Mud’s Killer Bee was making her final ride in what has been a memorable career. And the moment was magic. Killer Bee was never better and Dawson Hay was equal to the task as the two combined for 92 points, just one point off the arena record.
But that wasn’t the only drama in the bronc riding. The two Canadians going head to head in the quest for a world title brought their A game to round nine. Logan Hay (older brother to Dawson) turned in a solid 86.5 point effort only to be bettered by two time World Champion, Zeke Thurston, who was given a re-ride, and made the most of the opportunity, with an 88 score for second in the round. Thurston and Logan Hay remain first and second in the average respectively and Thurston has now moved into fourth place overall – just $6000 out of the lead with Hay fifth overall, $29,000 back of leader, Sage Newman.
After what has been a frustrating NFR to date – six no-times in eight rounds – for 2016 World Champion heeler, Jeremy Buhler, and heading partner, Rhen Richard, the tide turned in round nine as the Canadian and his Utah teammate won the round with a blistering 3.8 second run. The overall team roping leaders, Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira, protected their lead with a 4.9 second run to remain second in the average and keep their comfortable lead atop the World standings with one round remaining.
It has been a roller coaster ride for the top barrel racers who are in contention for the coveted world title. They have won go-rounds and they have hit barrels over the first eight days of NFR 2022. But tonight, three time champion, Hailey Kinsel, and her talented mare, Sister, clocked the fastest time of the Finals – 13.34 – to take home the winner’s cheque of $28,914. Kinsel continues to lead the overall World race and sits eighth in the average heading into the final performance. Defending Champion, Jordan Briggs is second in the World and fourth in the average but did not pick up a cheque Friday night. Sixteen time NFR qualifier, Lisa Lockhart, ran 13.59 for a share of 5/6 ($6,063), sits in third place in the average and fifth overall. It will literally come down to the final run on the final day to determine the 2022 barrel racing champion.
In the tie-down roping, Caleb Smidt did not place for the first time in the nine rounds of competition, but held onto his leads in both the average and overall standings with a conservative 9.5 second run. Veteran roper, Marty Yates, made his third victory lap at the Finals, this one coming after a 7.8 second winning run.
In the bareback riding, three time world champion Tim O’Connell showed that he will not go quietly into the night. The Zwingle, Iowa cowboy teamed up with Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Star Witness for an electric 88 for the win. Jess Pope continues to show the way as he inches closer to his first gold buckle. Tonight, the Waverly, Kansas cowboy split 4/5/6 with an 85.5 and will be hard to catch in either the average or the overall standings.
In the big men’s event, the two steer wrestlers who are vying for the title both failed to place in round nine. Stetson Jorgensen clings to a $4000 lead over Mississippi bulldogger Will Lummus but Lummus sits third in the all important average – two steps ahead of the Blackfoot, Idaho talent. Two time World Champion, Hunter Cure, won the round – his third round win so far – with a 3.6 second effort.
The bull riding continues to be the Stetson Wright show and though he did not win the round (82.5 for $8394), Wright has ridden eight of nine bulls, leads the average and has topped $517,993 in 2022 bull riding earnings! Tonight’s round winner was NFR rookie, Trey Holston, who easily made his best ride of the Finals to date riding Salt River Rodeo’s Belly Dump for 89.5 points.
The Canadian Professional Rodeo Association(CPRA) with headquarters in Airdrie, Alberta is the official sanctioning body for Professional Rodeo in Canada. The CPRA approves 55 events annually with a total payout exceeding $5.7 million. The organization oversees the SMS Equipment Pro Tour Finals each fall in Armstrong, BC, holds their premiere event – the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) – at Westerner Park in Red Deer, AB in early November and endorses the Maple Leaf Circuit Finals as part of Canadian Western Agribition in Regina, SK. Follow the CPRA on Twitter @prorodeocanada and Instagram @prorodeocanadaofficial, ‘Like’ Canadian Professional Rodeo Association on Facebook or online at RodeoCanada.com.