December 8, 2011–New Mexico cowboy Taos Muncy turned in the best regular season of his career, but he had mustered only a split of third and two fourth-place checks in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo?s first six rounds.
The 2007 world champion changed that on Wednesday when he rode Korkow Rodeos? Blew Apart for 86.5 points to win Round 7 in front of 17,180 fans at the Thomas & Mack Center. The win moved him from third to second in the pivotal average race and pushed his Finals earnings to $41,971.
?I was just hoping to stay on, really,? Muncy said. ?That was a real nice horse that I hadn?t really seen much before. He had bucked off some pretty good guys, so I was excited to draw him.?
Muncy leads Cody Wright by nearly $18,000 in the world standings, but Cody?s little brother, Jesse, is the one he’s watching in his rear-view mirror. Jesse Wright placed third in Round 7 and leads the average race by a wide margin ? 34.5 points ? over Muncy.
?Anytime you win, it’s real important,? Muncy said. ?I didn’t have a bad weekend, but it’s awesome to get a go-round buckle. Winning a round at the biggest rodeo in the world means a lot.?
Winning the round meant a lot to Wrangler NFR rookie Erich Rogers and his veteran partner, Kory Koontz.
?Winning that round tonight felt so good,? Rogers said after turning in a 3.7-second run with Koontz. It was just the third check of the week for the pair, but their second straight after splitting fourth place with a 3.9-second run in Round 6. ?I?ve thought about taking that victory lap so many times.?
While Rogers is roping at his first Wrangler NFR, Koontz is appearing in Las Vegas for the 18th time.
?Winning a round here makes the hair stand up on your neck,? Koontz said. ?When you see those fast runs in front of you, and then you come out and execute and beat them, you can’t help but get excited. The way it’s been the last two nights is how it’s supposed to be here with the 15 best in the world roping.?
Trevor Brazile and Patrick Smith roped their steer in 4.3 seconds to finish out of the money, but held their spot at the top of the average standings. They are the only pair to have roped all seven steers they?ve drawn; Turtle Powell and Jhett Johnson were the other team coming into tonight that had recorded a time in every round. Clay Tryan and Travis Graves are fifth in the average, but continue to hold the top spot in the world standings over Powell and Johnson, who are second.
Bareback rider Kaycee Feild visited the media room once again after his fourth win of the week on Wednesday. However, he had to make two rides to earn his trip to the winner?s circle this time around. After a 74-point trip aboard Korkow Rodeo?s Inky, Feild was awarded a re-ride.
Despite leading the average and world standings by a comfortable margin, he opted to take the second horse. He then spurred his way to an 85.5-point ride aboard Big Stone Rodeo?s Gold Dust, re-taking the lead in the Ram Top Gun Award standings in the process.
?I didn’t come here to win second; I wanted to win first,? said Feild, who had won the rodeo?s first three rounds and since added checks for second place in Round 5 and third place in Round 6. ?I never had a re-ride at the Finals before, but I knew in my mind that if it came to that, I would take it. With the money that’s up for the average, it would be devastating to take second because I didn’t take the re-ride. I?d look like kind of a wimp then, wouldn?t I??
Feild now has a 27.5-point lead in the average and a $65,334 lead in the world standings. He?s earned $96,346 so far at the Finals and is on pace to break both the Wrangler NFR average and earnings records.
Wrangler NFR rookie steer wrestler Olin Hannum won his first check of the week ? $17,885 ? for his 3.8-second run to win Round 7 on Wednesday. He topped Todd Suhn by just one-tenth of a second for the victory.
?I was really excited,? Hannum said. ?It feels like forever when you’re sitting in there throwing (the steer). I felt like he hung up on me a little bit, too. I’m just excited that I?ve got something in the bank.?
California bulldogger Luke Branquinho kept his streak alive as he tied for sixth in the round and has now earned a check in every round to move to first in the world standings and first in the average. He did, however, drop behind Feild in the Ram Top Gun Award standings. Branquinho has earned $83,798 at the Finals to push his season total to $171,538.
Tie-down roping served up the week?s only three-way tie for first place as Clint Cooper, Tyson Durfey and Ryan Jarrett each turned in runs of 7.6 seconds on Wednesday to win $14,231 each. Jarrett picked up a second consecutive win after winning Round 6 with a 7.4-second effort.
?Two in a row is rare for me,? he said, ?but I knew I had a pretty good calf. I got to watch him a couple of times from Rounds 1 and 4. I knew his pattern, and I just went at him and it worked on him.?
Durfey got just his second round win in five Wrangler NFR appearances.
?You know, the week started out great,? Durfey said. ?I got a fifth and a second (place) right off the bat, and then it kind of got a little slow. It’s great to get a go-round win, even if it’s split three ways.?
Cooper drew the calf Jarrett roped in 7.4 seconds in Round 4.
?I?ve got a lot of trust in my horse (two-time defending PRCA/AQHA Tie-down Roping Horse of the Year, Sweetness) and confidence in myself,? Cooper said. ?It felt good.?
Tuf Cooper continues to lead the world standings with $168,965, but second-place Cody Ohl is first in the average ? which pays $45,865 to the winner ? after finishing in a tie for fifth in Round 7. Cooper is a distant eighth in the average standings.
Just two bull riders made the eight-second whistle on Wednesday. Clayton Savage won the round with an 85-point ride aboard D&H Cattle?s Early Bird, while world standings leader Shane Proctor was second with a 77.
?I was excited to have that bull and I rode him well,? Savage said. ?But then the get-off wasn?t so good. I got hung up a little bit with my spur, but we?ve got the best bullfighters in the world here and I’m glad to have them, and I praise the Lord for getting me out of there alive.
?I got stepped on a couple of times, but winning always helps; I’m sure I’ll be sore in the morning, but I’ll be ready to go for some more.?
Wrangler NFR rookie Jacob O?Mara didn’t make a qualified ride in Round 7 but continues to lead the average race. Proctor moved to third in the average ? one spot ahead of J.W. Harris, who is second in the world standings.
Canadian Lindsay Sears split the opening-round win with world standings leader Brittany Pozzi but had failed to cash another first-place check in the following rounds. Out second in Round 7, she put that streak to rest with a 13.56-second run that was the second-fastest run of the week ? topped only by Carlee Pierce?s arena-record 13.46-second run in Round 5.
?Kind of changed our routine a little bit,? Sears said of her approach with her great horse Martha on Wednesday. ?Kind of made her realize that, ?Hey, we’re in Vegas. I don’t know if you realize this, but we need to step up a little bit.? And she did.?
Sears is second to Sherry Cervi in the average race and second to Pozzi in the world standings. However, Pozzi is just fifth in the average race af ter seven rounds.
Bareback riding: 1. Kaycee Feild, Payson, Utah, 85.5 points on Big Stone Rodeo’s Gold Dust, $17,885; 2. (tie) Will Lowe, Canyon, Texas, and Casey Colletti, Pueblo, Colo., 84, $12,404 each; 4. Bobby Mote, Culver, Ore., 83.5, $7,500; 5. Royce Ford, Briggsdale, Colo., 83, $4,615; 6. Clint Cannon, Waller, Texas, 80.5, $2,885; 7. Steven Dent, Mullen, Neb., 80; 8. Ryan Gray, Cheney, Wash., 78; 9. Tilden Hooper, Carthage, Texas, 77.5; 10. Brian Bain, Culver, Ore., 77; 11. (tie) Wes Stevenson, Lubbock, Texas, and Cody DeMers, Kimberly, Idaho, 76 each; 13. Jason Havens, Prineville, Ore., 74; 14. Matt Bright, Azle, Texas, NS. Steven Peebles, Redmond, Ore., did not compete.
Steer wrestling: 1. Olin Hannum, Malad, Idaho, 3.8 seconds, $17,885; 2. Todd Suhn, Hermosa, S.D., 3.9, $14,135; 3. Mickey Gee, Wichita Falls, Texas, 4.0, $10,673; 4. Shawn Greenfield, Lakeview, Ore., 4.1, $7,500; 5. (tie) Luke Branquinho, Los Alamos, Calif., and Jason Miller, Lance Creek, Wyo., 4.3, $3,750 each; 7. (tie) Trevor Knowles, Mount Vernon, Ore., and Jake Rinehart, Highmore, S.D., 4.4 each; 9. Billy Bugenig, Ferndale, Calif., 4.7; 10. Seth Brockman, Wheatland, Wyo., 4.8; 11. Blake Knowles, Heppner, Ore., 5.1; 12. Sean Mulligan, Coleman, Okla., 5.4; 13. Casey Martin, Sulphur, La., 5.5; 14. Dean Gorsuch, Gering, Neb., 6.8; 15. Stockton Graves, Newkirk, Okla., NT.
Team roping: 1. Erich Rogers, Round Rock, Ariz./Kory Koontz, Sudan, Texas, 3.7 seconds, $17,885 each; 2. Brady Tryan, Huntley, Mont./Jake Long, Coffeyville, Kan., 3.8, $14,135; 3. (tie) Luke Brown, Stephenville, Texas/Martin Lucero, Stephenville, Texas, and Brandon Beers, Powell Butte, Ore./Jim Ross Cooper, Monument, N.M., 4.0, $9,087 each; 5. (tie) Spencer Mitchell, Colusa, Calif./Broc Cresta, Santa Rosa, Calif., and Colby Lovell, Madisonville, Texas/York Gill, Memphis, Tenn., 4.1, $3,750 each; 7. (tie) Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas/Patrick Smith, Midland, Texas, and Derrick Begay, Seba Dalkai, Ariz./Cesar de la Cruz, Tucson, Ariz., 4.3 each; 9. Kaleb Driggers, Albany, Ga./Brad Culpepper, Poulan, Ga., 4.6; 10. Jake Barnes, Scottsdale, Ariz./Walt Woodard, Stephenville, Texas, 5.6; 11. Chad Masters, Cedar Hill, Tenn./Jade Corkill, Fallon, Nev., 9.3; 12. Clay Tryan, Billings, Mont./Travis Graves, Jay, Okla., 12.7; 13. (tie) Matt Sherwood, Pima , Ariz./Cory Petska, Marana, Ariz.; Turtle Powell, Stephenville, Texas/Jhett Johnson, Casper, Wyo., and Riley Minor, Ellensburg, Wash./Brady Minor, Ellensburg, Wash., NT.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Taos Muncy, Corona, N.M., 86.5 points on Korkow Rodeos’ Blew Apart, $17,885; 2. Bradley Harter, Weatherford, Texas, 85.0, $14,135; 3. Jesse Wright, Milford, Utah, 84.0, $10,673; 4. Chuck Schmidt, Keldron, S.D., 82.5, $7,500; 5. (tie) Cody Wright, Milford, Utah, and Wade Sundell, Boxholm, Iowa, 82, $3,750; 7. Sam Spreadborough, Snyder, Texas, 79.5; 8. Chad Ferley, Oelrichs, S.D., 79; 9. Ty Atchison, Jackson, Mo., 78; 10. Jesse Bail, Camp Crook, S.D., 77; 11. Jacobs Crawley, College Station, Texas, 74.5; 12. Jesse Kruse, Great Falls, Mont., 73; 13. (tie) Cody DeMoss, Heflin, La.; Heith DeMoss, Heflin, La., and Tyler Corrington, Hastings, Minn., NS.
Tie-down roping: 1. (tie) Clint Cooper, Decatur, Texas; Ryan Jarrett, Comanche, Okla., and Tyson Durfey, Colbert, Wash., 7.6 seconds, $14,231 each; 4. Jerrad Hofstetter, Portales, N.M., 7.7, $7,500; 5. (tie) Cody Ohl, Hico, Texas, and Adam Gray, Seymour, Texas, 7.8, $3,750 each; 7. Timber Moore, Aubrey, Texas, 8.1; 8. Cory Solomon, Prairie View, Texas, 8.3; 9. Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas, 8.8; 10. Matt Shiozawa, Chubbuck, Idaho, 8.9; 11. Shane Hanchey, Sulphur, La., 10.1; 12. Tuf Cooper, Decatur, Texas, 10.4; 13. Hunter Herrin, Apache, Okla., 11.4; 14. Scott Kormos, Teague, Texas, 14.4; 15. Clif Cooper, Decatur, Texas, NT.
Barrel racing: 1. Lindsay Sears, Nanton, Alberta, 13.56 seconds, $17,885; 2. Sherry Cervi, Marana, Ariz., 13.71, $14,135; 3. Brittany Pozzi, Victoria, Texas, 13.76, $10,673; 4. Carlee Pierce, Stephenville, Texas, 13.82, $7,500; 5. Sue Smith, Blackfoot, Idaho, 13.94, $4,615; 6. Britany Fleck, Mandan, N.D., 13.99, $2,885; 7. Angie Meadors, Blanchard, Okla., 14.00; 8. Jody Sheffield, Ogden, Utah, 14.01; 9. Jeanne Anderson, White City, Kan., 14.12; 10. Tammy Fischer, Ledbetter, Texas, 14.23; 11. Brenda Mays, Terrebonne, Ore., 14.45; 12. Christina Richman, Glendora, Calif., 14.55; 13. Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, S.D., 19.05; 14. Jane Melby, Backus, Minn., 19.08; 15. Jill Moody, Letcher, S.D., 19.16.
Bull riding: 1. Clayton Savage, Cheyenne, Wyo., 85 points on D&H Cattle’s Early Bird, $17,885; 2. Shane Proctor, Grand Coulee, Wash., 77, $14,135; 3. (tie) Jacob O’Mara, Prairieville, La.; J.W. Harris, Mullin, Texas; Wesley Silcox, Santaquin, Utah; Trevor Kastner, Ardmore, Okla.; Bobby Welsh, Gillette, Wyo.; Clayton Foltyn, El Campo, Texas; Chandler Bownds, Lubbock, Texas; L.J. Jenkins, Porum, Okla.; Tate Stratton, Kellyville, Okla.; Tyler Willis, Wheatland, Wyo.; Seth Glause, Cheyenne, Wyo.; Steve Woolsey, Payson, Utah, and Cody Whitney, Asher, Okla., NS.
*Ram Truck Top Gun Award standings: 1. Kaycee Field, bareback riding, $96,346; 2. Luke Branquinho, steer wrestling, $83,798; 3. Jesse Wright, saddle bronc riding, $83,077; 4. (tie) Turtle Powell and Jhett Johnson, team roping, $73,990 each; 6. Sherry Cervi, barrel racing, $71,683; 7. Brittany Pozzi, barrel racing, $66,779; 8. Lindsay Sears, barrel racing, $61,587; 9. Ryan Jarrett, tie-down roping, $61,250; 10. Jason Miller, steer wrestling, $60,288.
*Most money won in a single event.