Junior Nogueira – Presidente Prude, Brazil ($115,775)
6-time WNFR qualifier
2016 All-Around World Champion
It would be easy to think that Junior Nogueira has the world by the tail, or maybe two feet. The best heeler in the PRCA during the 2019 regular season is known for his signature pull back move in the arena when he’s done his job well.
That has transferred to social media where he now hashtags posts with #pullbackforJesus. It now means so much more to Junior than a successful team roping run who told the Team Roping Journal that he gets his confidence and strength from God.
Junior started roping as a toddler in his native country of Brazil. Both of his parents roped. When he was five, his father was roping calves, had a heart attack and died.
His mom went to a roping school where Allen Bach was the coach and six-year-old Junior tagged along. His craving for roping continued and he watched instructional DVDs from Bach as well as Jake Barnes and Clay O’Brien Cooper.
In 2013, he arrived in the U.S. with a suitcase and his spurs. After being super successful – nine cars, 54 motorcycles, and two horse trailers – in Brazil, he wanted to learn more about roping. It was December and time for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and the World Series of Team Roping Finals.
What started as a week of learning turned into a stay in the U.S. and the opportunity of a lifetime. He moved in with Jake Barnes and they started roping together. They set a goal of Junior winning the Rookie of the Year in the heeling. He did better than that and qualified for his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in 2014 with Jake doing the heading.
He and Jake made it again in 2015, but an accident while practicing saw Jake watching it on television. Junior roped with JoJo Lemond and finished fourth. Then he started roping with Kaleb Driggers.
Their first year together saw Junior as the first Brazilian to win a world title when he was crowned all-around champion. He and Kaleb have roped at three NFRs together and finished as the reserve world champion each time.
This year they are hoping to leave Las Vegas at the top of the world standings. Junior is starting the 2019 NFR in first place with $115,775 in regular season earnings. He also qualified in first place last year with a mere $161 more in earnings.
It’s rare to see Junior without a smile on his face. He has made it his personal mission to be a light in the world. That light shines in the Thomas and Mack Center no matter what happens in the arena. And the best part of 10 days in Vegas for him is having his family from Brazil here with him.