Three cowboys, a top official, six horses and a bull with Eastern Washington ties are in Las Vegas for the National Finals Rodeo.
The 10-day run to determine world champions in seven events begins Thursday and runs through Dec. 14.
Debi Davis of Nine Mile Falls is the assistant secretary for the fourth time. Her job is to use a pencil to double-check the computer results.
Team ropers Riley and Brady Minor of Ellensburg enter the NFR with winnings of $97,648.95. Riley Minor, 31, is sixth in the standings among headers going into his 10th NFR, and Brady Minor, 34 at his 11th NFR, is eighth for heelers. The discrepancy comes as ropers change partners during the season.
The leader among headers is Clay Smith of Broken Bow, Oklahoma, with $150,512.22, while Junior Nogueira of Lipan, Texas, leads the heelers with $115,774.66.
Former Colbert resident Tyson Durfey, 36, the 2016 tie-down roping champion living in Brock, Texas, goes into his 12th NFR with $112,878.31, good for third place. The leader is Caleb Smidt of Bellville, Texas, with $131,899.95, followed by Haven Meged of Miles City, Montana, at $119,878.84.
The top six in each event of every performance earn a check ranging from $26,230.77 for first place to $4,230.77 for sixth. At the end of the rodeo, the top eight in the average get an additional check. First place in the average is $67,269.23, and eighth is $6,346.15.
Big Bend Rodeo Company and Flying Five Rodeo Company, run by Chad Hutsell and Sonny Riley of Ritzville, have six saddle broncs in Las Vegas. The Big Bend broncs are Kool Toddy, Spotted Blues and Major Huckleberry. From Flying Five are Spring Planting, Spring Tues and Blue Feather. Flying Five’s Hot Pursuit is the only bull.
The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is the season-ending championship event for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and is widely acknowledged to be the world’s premier rodeo. Held annually since 1959 – and since 1985, every December at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas – the Wrangler NFR is ProRodeo’s richest and most prestigious rodeo, and it showcases the best cowboys, barrel racers and livestock in the world.
The contract signed with Las Vegas Events in 2015 keeps the Wrangler NFR in Las Vegas through 2024 and raises prize money significantly over that decade. It is telecast to more than 55 million households on CBS Sports Network.
The top 15 contestants in the standard rodeo events – bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping (headers and heelers), saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, WPRA barrel racing and bull riding – qualify to compete at the Wrangler NFR based on money won during the regular season, including Wrangler Champions Challenge events presented by Justin Boots; the Justin Boots Playoffs and Championships presented by Wrangler; the 12 RAM Circuit Finals Rodeos; the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo; and, for many bull riders, PRCA Xtreme Bulls Tour earnings. At the conclusion of the Wrangler NFR, the sport’s world champions are determined based on total season earnings – what they win during the Wrangler NFR added to what they won during the regular season, before the Wrangler NFR.
The Wrangler NFR consists of 10 rounds – one round on each of 10 consecutive days. Each contestant competes once each day. Cowboys and barrel racers earn money by placing first through sixth in any round, and pick up more money by placing first through eighth in the average (cumulative times or points earned during the 10 rounds). At the end of each Wrangler NFR, there are two champions in each event (four for team roping): the average winner, who won the Wrangler NFR by having the best cumulative time or score for that event over the 10 rounds, and the world champion, who finished the year with the most money (including what he or she earned at the Wrangler NFR). For each event, the average winner and world champion may be the same person.
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