Taylor Santos – Creston, Calif. ($101,407)
First-time WNFR qualifier
Taylor Santos is a fourth-generation rodeo competitor, but the first to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
He grew up among a family of ropers that had primarily competed in California, but life and family obligations got in the way of full-time rodeo pursuits. His grandfather, Frank Santos is a DVM who is the father of Kendra Santos who uses her words to tell the rest of the world many of the greatest rodeo stories of all time.
It was no surprise that Taylor and his older brother Lane wanted to rope. They also competed in the steer wrestling and if it could be done on a saddle horse, they were all over it. Taylor was an all-around champion at the National Junior High School Rodeo Finals. He qualified for nationals all four years and then it was off to college.
He joined Lane at his mom’s alma mater, Cal Poly State University. Not only is the school known for their academics, they also have produced some outstanding rodeo athletes. As a freshman Taylor qualified for his first College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) and won the tie-down roping championship. The same year, his cousin, Joe Frost, won the bull riding.
Taylor stayed in California another year but he was itching to get to a place that could really elevate his roping. He moved to Texas and spent some time at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville home of Joe Beaver.
He got a new horse, Hank, that he describes as a game changer and school soon took a back seat to roping. With Hank working well and with thoughts of the famed yellow walls of the Thomas and Mack Arena in his sights, he joined the PRCA in 2016 and took to the trail. He finished as the all-around rookie of the year.
Taylor finished in 22nd place in the world standings in 2018 and he was more determined than ever to get to the NFR. He will be there in December starting in sixth place with $101,407. And he’ll be riding his trusty mount Hank who has upped Taylor’s game to get him there.
Springtime means rodeo contestants make their way to California and that is Taylor’s favorite time of year. He won rodeos in Riverdale, Redding and Santa Maria in his home state. He’ll be riding behind the California flag in the grand entry and all the rodeo fans in California will be hoping Taylor’s first NFR qualification goes as well as his first trip to the CNFR.