Riley Pruitt – Gering, Neb. ($99,535)
2-time WNFR qualifier
Riley Pruitt didn’t win a rodeo during the 2019 season until there were just two weeks left. The Nebraska cowboy was starting to get a little nervous.
His year started out fine. He was eighth in the world standings in April, dropped a couple of spots in July. In August when he was hoping he had his second Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualification in the bank, he was 15th and going home wasn’t an option.
His pivotal moment for the whole season came down to one run at Oregon’s Pendleton Round-Up. He won the first round, placed second in the next one and then stopped the clock in 11.5 second in the finals to win the championship for the second time in his career. The first was in 2014 when he finished 26th in the world standings.
Riley won $14,446 in Pendleton moving him from 14th to ninth in the world standings. He added to it and will start his second NFR in eighth place with $99,535 in earnings.
He joined the PRCA in 2010 and even though he had parents that had been successful in the arena, he still had a learning curve of his own before he qualified for his first NFR in 2016. His father, Troy Pruitt, who won the tie-down world title in 1990. He qualified for the NFR eight times and won the average there in 1993. Riley’s mother, Martee is a barrel racer and they all ride and train horses all the time.
Riley qualified for the NFR the first time in 2016. He left Las Vegas with a new saddle as the average winner there. He won over $100,000 added that to his season earnings and finished the year in seventh place.
The next two years, he was outside the top 15. He and his wife, Jenna, had a daughter, Chloe Rose, who will be two the end of December. And, they are expecting a baby boy. The Pruitts have had a very busy fall with lots to celebrate.
Riley has been practicing for the roping and the flag carrying at the NFR. Nebraska has two representatives this year, Riley and bareback rider Steven Dent so the honor of carrying the flag in the grand entry goes to Riley.
He’s learned a lot from all of his past experiences, so Riley’s family and friends are expecting to see great things from him at this year’s NFR. They’ve already seen great things happen for the family outside of the arena.