Bull rider Benton takes home healthy haul
LAS VEGAS – Entering the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Polaris RANGER, Trey Benton III was feeling healthy.
After Round 1 of the WNFR, Benton was feeling fantastic.
The bull rider from Rock Island, Texas, scored 90 points on Big Stone Rodeo Inc’s Mortimer to win the first round on Thursday, Dec. 7, at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“I’ve always been broken up here,” Benton said, “so knowing I’ve got a chance ... I have never been healthy here, but the tribulations make a man.”
Benton picked up right where he left off at the end of the 2017 regular season. Benton won back-to-back nights in Sioux Falls, S.D., Sept. 29-30, both Wrangler Champions Challenge presented by Justin Boots events.
He was 91 points on Sept. 29 and he closed the season with 88 points Sept. 30. He was right back at it in Las Vegas on Thursday.
“I’ve got to make a statement for nine more rounds and do what I’ve done all year and stick to the system I had intended – to do whatever it takes to stay on and nothing else matters,” Benton said. “I need to take care of myself here (in Vegas). I hadn’t had good experiences here before, and I want to make sure I do it right this time.”
Benton did it right in Round 1. The win climbed him two places, earning him $26,231, and moved him up to fourth in the WEATHER GUARD® PRCA World Standings. He’s earned $146,702 on the season.
Setting the bar with the first 90 of the rodeo in the first round shows that Benton is ready to roll.
“I honestly didn’t know it would be a 90, I got an A-plus for the day,” Benton said. “I just nodded and hoped for the best; it’s hard to tell the fans that, but you get a drift of things after a while. I’ve done this my whole life.”
Defending champ Waguespack back at it
A year ago, steer wrestler Tyler Waguespack won $213,218 to not only capture the RAM Top Gun Award for winning the most money at the 2016 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, but he also claimed his first world title.
Waguespack picked up right where he left off from last year, winning Round 1 after posting a 3.5-second time – his second fastest at the WNFR, and tied for the fourth fastest time in the history of the first round.
“Coming into it, I always try and treat it just like another rodeo and that’s pretty hard with the stage that it’s on,” the defending champion said. “I don’t know if the hype gets to me or I just get excited, but whatever I’m doing sure seems to be working. I thought if I could start it off with a bang in the first round, it will relax me for the rest of the time and I’m glad I got that accomplished.”
Waguespack entered the 2017 WNFR in fourth place. The first-round win moved him up to third with $140,175, with Ty Erickson still holding the lead with $173,152.
Over the 2016-17 WNFRs, Waguespack has placed in nine of the last 11 WNFR rounds.
Waguespack was planning to ride Cadillac – the 2014 and 2016 PRCA/AQHA Horse of the Year – in Vegas, but had to switch to Scooter when Cadillac was injured before the WNFR. The transition was seamless.
“I got off one horse of the year and got on another and Scooter was awesome,” the Gonzales, La., cowboy said. “I was able to ride Scooter several times throughout the year and have success on him.”
WNFR rookie tops saddle bronc riding
It didn’t take long for saddle bronc rider Hardy Braden to enjoy his first trip to the WNFR.
The 28-year-old cowboy from Welch, Okla., scored 87.5 points on Cervi Championship Rodeo’s HATitude Alpha Dog to win his debut.
Braden summed it up succinctly.
“I don’t think it gets any better than that,” he said. “What tops that? That is how you want to start out the Finals and I’m super excited – I can’t even tell you how excited I am.”
Braden entered the Finals in seventh place in the world standings. The victory pushed him up two spots to fifth.
Braden got plenty of advice in the weeks and months leading up to his trip to Las Vegas. He listened to it all, but also made sure not to change much.
“A lot of people asked me if I was nervous and this and that, and I told them I’ll treat it like any rodeo and everyone said, ‘Good luck,’” Braden said. “I did the same routine as any rodeo, and I didn’t get nervous or think about it too much.”
The win gives Braden $139,004 for the season and gives him plenty of confidence with nine more nights to go.
“I can relax and say, ‘Alright, it’s begun,’ and now enjoy the moment,” Braden said. “I’ll hang with my bronc rider friends, then talk to my dad and try to win some money at the casinos.”
Team roping leaders hold serve in Round 1
Team roping header Kaleb Driggers and team roping heeler Junior Nogueira maintained their status as the ones to beat, posting an impressive 4.1-second go to win Round 1.
Driggers and Nogueira tied for the second fastest time in the first round.
“It’s a blessing, honestly,” Driggers said. “When we started this week, we weren’t going for first. We were just going to try to go for our steers and make the best runs we can, and let it play out.”
Watching the other teams go before could affect the way Driggers and Nogueira would attack their steer. They changed that up for 2017.
“It’s hard not to get your adrenaline pumping when you’re watching the headers spin ’em fast,” Driggers said. “That’s one thing I had to do, tell myself to settle down, do my job and do the best I can.”
It helped that Driggers and Nogueira knew the steer.
“We know them a little bit, we’ve roped them before,” said Brazilian cowboy Nogueira, the reigning all-around world champion. “We helped to break them in. We know which ones were running faster and which ones were running slower. We had a pretty good steer tonight.”
Driggers leads all headers with $170,208, while Nogueira leads heelers with $170,938.
After the duo each finished in second place in 2016 in their respective events, the two are flying high after Round 1.
“There are a lot of guys that didn’t make it that rope just as good as we do and are sitting at home,” Driggers said. “So, we just try to take it all in stride, you know? It’s a blessing to be here and we’re very grateful.”
Vold tops bareback riding
Jake Vold opened the WNFR in eighth place, nearly $100,000 behind leader Tim O’Connell in the bareback riding standings.
Vold knows he needs a great WNFR if he has any hope of catching the defending world champion. He got off to a great start Thursday night.
Vold scored 87.5 points on Kesler Championship Rodeo’s Oakridge to win the bareback riding and take home $26,231. The win leapfrogged Vold from eighth to third.
“It’s a good confidence builder here,” he said. “There are a lot of horses here and going at that kind of money, I find quite exciting. It keeps your blood flowing. I need to win a lot of money to have a chance at a world title. To get a win right off the bat is definitely key. Hopefully a guy can keep it rolling and see what happens after 10 days.”
Last season, Vold won three consecutive rounds, placed in seven rounds and finished second in the world standings. So, the Ponoka, Alberta, cowboy – in his third trip to the WNFR – is finding himself at home in Las Vegas.
“The atmosphere here is so unbelievable and the people, everything, the bright lights, just being in Vegas, going at the money every night keeps you pretty excited,” said Vold, 30. “When you’ve got a chance to go at that every night for 10 nights in a row it’s a game changer.”
His 87.5 points tied for the fourth most in Round 1.
New experience for veteran Jarrett in tie-down roping
Ryan Jarrett has plenty of experience at the WNFR.
He’s qualified 10 times in tie-down roping, once in steer wrestling and won a world title in all-around in 2005, the same year he won the Finals tie-down roping average.
But on Thursday night, the 33-year-old Georgia cowboy accomplished something he’d never done before – winning Round 1 at the WNFR.
Jarrett did that in 7.5 seconds to take home first place, four-tenths of a second faster than anyone else on the first day of the 2017 edition of the WNFR.
“This is a good feeling,” said Jarrett, who will turn 34 on Dec. 28. “I’ve never won the first round, so this is exciting. Getting started off like this means a lot. Winning Round 1 is like no other (for your confidence) and winning rounds doesn’t get old.”
The victory moved Jarrett from eighth to fifth in the world standings with $132,286 on the year.
Jarrett had plenty of confidence in his horse.
“I was riding a young horse, he is just 7 years old, his name is Snoopy,” Jarrett said. “He’s never been here, but I rode him toward the end of the (regular) season and I had a lot of confidence on him and I chose to bring him here. I wanted to be against the barrier and I knew he would do his job. You get confidence in him, but to bring him to this level, you have to have a different kind of confidence in him, and he came through.”
Miller notches victory in return
Before Thursday night, Nellie Miller hadn’t competed in the Thomas & Mack Center since 2010.
Miller made a triumphant return to the WNFR, winning Round 1 in 13.64 seconds.
“This round win is a tremendous start to the week and it gives you a lot of confidence in that arena,” said Miller, sitting in third place in the world standings. “It is what we came here to do. Everything worked out. I didn’t win any rounds at the 2010 NFR, so this is new for me and I am just so excited.”
Miller was riding Rafter W Minnie Reba “Sister,” who won AQHA Horse of the Year and the WPRA Horse with the Most Heart award, voted on by the Top 15 Barrel Racers in 2015.
Miller immediately pointed to Sister as a reason for the win.
“My run was amazing,” she said. “Sister is so confident in what she’s doing. She hunts the barrels and she always turns, no matter what. She just went in there and looked for those barrels.”
Brazile pads all-around lead
Trevor Brazile continues to lead the way in search of his 14th all-around gold buckle.
After the first round at the WNFR, Brazile had won $271,952, giving him a $31,930 lead over his brother-in-law, Tuf Cooper.
Brazile added to his lead over Cooper by tying for second place in the tie-down roping and winning a check for $18,192.
Canadian Professional Rodeo Association
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Vold Takes First Victory Lap of 2017 WNFR
- Courtesy of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association
December 7, 2017
Canadian cowboys got off to a fast start at the 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Three time Canadian champion, Jake Vold, wasted no time in resuming his signature lights-out performances in Las Vegas. Vold who finished second in the world a year ago and won three rounds and $165,000 in the Thomas and Mack Arena, picked up where he left off with a tremendous 87.5 on Kesler Rodeo’s Oakridge. The win netted the Airdrie cowboy the $26,230 first place cheque and moved him to third in the world standings with $138,391 in the bank, now $87,000 back of season leader and defending world champion Tim O’Connell.
"It's a good confidence builder," Vold noted of his first night ride. "There are a lot of horses here and going at that kind of money, I find quite exciting. It's keeps your blood flowing. I need to win a lot of money to have a chance at a world title. To get the win right off the bat is definitely key. Hopefully a guy can keep it rolling and see what happens after the 10 days".
Provost, Alberta steer wrestler, Scott Guenthner, did not appear to feel any nerves as he made his first-ever appearance at the WNFR posting a solid 4.3 second run to be among a cluster of bulldoggers with that time. Guenthner split 3/4/5/6/6 for a nice $7530 start to his Finals. Cochrane’s Tanner Milan, at his second Las Vegas Finals, was 6.6 seconds on his steer and finished out of the money. Defending world champion, Tyler Waguesback, won the round with a 3.5 second run to keep his repeat title hopes very much alive. He sits third in the world at $140,000, $33,000 behind Helena, Montana dogger, Ty Erickson.
In the saddle bronc riding, defending world champion, Zeke Thurston of Big Valley, Alberta, closed the gap on the season leader and 2015 World Champion, Jacobs Crawley. The 23 year-old Canadian now trails Crawley by just $9,000 after a 5/6/6 split on the Calgary Stampede stallion Timely Delivery. The second generation bronc rider was 85 points on the horse on this night, as the pair reprised their July Calgary Stampede matchup that ended with Thurston collecting 90 points. Crawley finished out of the money on a night that saw Oklahoma cowboy Hardy Braden win the round with an 87.5 score. Utah’s Ryder Wright (86.5) and 2015 Canadian champion Cody DeMoss (85.5) won 3rd and 4th respectively on a couple of Canadian broncs, C5 Rodeo’s Black Hills and Outlaw Buckers’ three time Canadian champion Lunatic Party.
Clay Elliott and Layton Green, the other two Canadians in the bronc riding, both managed 79 scores on night number one.
Defending world champion team roping heeler, Jeremy Buhler of Arrowwood, caught a leg and was 9.3 seconds with partner Tom Richards after Canadian partner, Levi Simpson, finished just out of the 2017 WNFR. Buhler remains in 15th spot in the world standings in a round that was won by Kaleb Driggers and reigning All Around Champion, Junior Nogueira, who also sit atop the world standing, both with over $170,000 on the season.
And in the bull riding, Calgary’s 2016 Canadian champion, Jordan Hansen, first Canadian to qualify for the WNFR since 2001, was bucked off by Beutler and Son Rodeo’s Lumberjack. Hansen came to Las Vegas in 13th place overall. The round was won by Trey Benton lll, as he rode the Big Stone bull, Mortimer, to 90 points. Joe Frost, he Utah bull rider rode Outlaw Buckers’ Bomb Shell to 84 points for 5th place in the round. 2017 Canadian champion, Garrett Smith from Rexburg, Idaho, narrowed the gap on season leader Sage Kimsey as he posted an 85.5 point ride for 4th place in the round while Kimsey, the three-time titleist, finished out of the money with a 79 mark. Smith moves to within $20,000 of the leader as he vies for his first world crown.
December 7 - Round 1 WNFR Results
Jake Vold takes first victory lap at 2017 #WNFR - 87.5 - Kesler Championship Rodeo’s Oakridge. Orin Larsen - second with 86.5
... complete results here
Tyler Waguespack - 3.5 seconds to win #WNFR steer wrestling round 1
Scott Guenthner - 4.3 for a share of 3-6/6
* Tanner Milan 6.6
…complete results here
Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira - 4.1 to win the round
* Jeremy Buhler / Tom Richards caught a leg - 9.3
... complete results here
SADDLE BRONC RIDING
1st timer Hardy Braden - 87.5 wins Round 1 on Cervi Championship Rodeo Company's HATitude Alpha Dog
* Zeke Thurston - $3,666.66 for a split of 5/6/6 on Calgary Stampede's Timely Delivery - compete results here
Ryan Jarrett maintains the lead in #WNFR tie-down roping round 1 with 7.5 seconds - good for top cheque of $26,230.77
... complete results here
Nellie Miller - 13.64 on the Horse of the Year
... complete results here
Trey Benton III - 90 points on Big Stone Rodeo's Mortimer to win the round!
* Joe Frost - 84 on Outlaw Buckers' Bombshell for 5th place money
* Tough 1st night for Jordan Hansen - struggled on Beutler & Son Rodeo Co.'s Record Rack's Lumberjack - no score
... complete results here
2017 CANADIAN WNFR QUALIFIERS
JORDAN HANSEN - 1st time #WNFR Bull Riding qualifier
* 2016 Canadian Bull Riding Champion
* First bull rider to compete at the WNFR since 2001
* Qualifies in 13th spot with $92,660 in earnings
* 5 time CFR qualifier
* Competes as a pro bull rider at CPRA, PRCA & PBR events
* Also works as a welder
* Family in rodeo - Mom, Adel (CFR barrel racer)
* Will be 25 years of age in August of 2018
* Lives in Calgary, Alberta
CLAY ELLIOTT - 2017 WNFR Saddle Bronc Riding Qualifier
* 2016 Canadian Champion
* Two time WNFR qualifier
* Qualified for this year’s Final in 11th position with $$89,331 in earnings
* 2016 Rodeo Houston Champion
* 2015 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Finals Champion
* Calls Nanton, Alberta home
* Comes from a rodeo family (Dad, Vern, and brother, Ty, are both former bull riders)
* Will be 24 in March of 2018
* Enjoys riding colts
TANNER MILAN - 2017 WNFR Steer Wrestling Qualifier
* Two time Canadian Champion
* Two time WNFR qualifier
* Rides the 2017 Canadian Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year - Smoke
* Going into the World Final in 8th position with $84,073 won
* One of three #CPRA / #PRCA steer wrestling brothers (Straws and Baillie)
* Tanner’s brother, Baillie, usually hazes for him on a paint gelding called Tee Pee
* From Cochrane, Alberta
* Will turn 35 in September of 2018
* Enjoys ranching, hunting and hockey
ORIN LARSEN - Professional Bareback Rider
* Three time WNFR qualifier
* Heading to this year’s Final in 10th spot with $99,239 in earnings
* Two time CFR qualifier
* 2017 rodeo wins included Pueblo State Fair & Rodeo, Jasper Heritage Rodeo, Lea Park Rodeo as well as four Wrangler Champions Challenge events
* From Inglis, Manitoba
* Will turn 27 in April of 2018
* Newly married to wife, Lexi
* Enjoys fly fishing
* Has two brothers - both of whom rodeo - Tyrel (saddle bronc rider) and Kane (bull rider)
SCOTT GUENTHNER - 1st Time WNFR Qualifier
* 4 time CFR steer wrestling qualifier
* Going into the 2017 WNFR in 5th spot with $99,500 in earnings
* Finished 2nd in Canada this year
* 2017 Alberta Circuit Winner
* 2015 Wrangler Canadian Tour Champion
* Has a number of cousins who rodeo - Justin Guenthner, Darren and BJ Zeiffle, Derek Laye, Clint Laye
* Ranches near Consort, Alberta with his wife Becky
JAKE VOLD - 3 time Canadian Bareback Riding Champion
* 3 time WNFR qualifier (finished 2nd in the World last year)
* Heading to this year’s World Final in 8th spot with $102,160.63 in earnings
* 2017 saw Jake win Rodeo Houston and the Ponoka Stampede
* 5 time Canadian Wrangler Tour Champion
* 2007 Canadian novice bareback champion
* From Ponoka, AB originally; now resides in Airdrie, AB with his wife, Sara
* Will turn 31 in March, 2018
* Enjoys hunting
* Comes from a large rodeo family including brother, Rode (steer wrestler) and cousin, Wayne (stock contractor)
LAYTON GREEN - First time #WNFR qualifier
* 2017 Canadian Saddle Bronc Riding Champion
* 2017 #CPRA Season Leader
* 2017 Alberta Circuit Award Winner
* Heading to the 2017 WNFR in 5th spot with $110,612.61 in earnings
* Won the Canadian Novice SB title in 2012
* Layton is also a rancher and he enjoys hunting & fishing when he has time.
* Family in rodeo: Garrett, a CPRA bull rider and CFR qualifier
* Layton is from Meeting Creek, AB; he will turn 24 in January, 2018
JEREMY BUHLER - 2016 World Champion Heeler
* 2017 Canadian Champion Heeler
* 6 time Canadian Finals Rodeo qualifier
* 2 time WNFR qualifier
* Rides Rick James, 16 year-old dun gelding - 2017 Canadian Heeling Horse of the Year
* Also works as a ranch manager and farrier
* Jeremy celebrates his 33rd birthday December 8;
* Jeremy hangs his hat in Arrowwood, AB
* Enjoys snowboarding when he has time
* Family in rodeo: Clint and Kelly (brothers, both team ropers)
* Regular roping partner is Levi Simpson (2016 World Champion Header/2017 Canadian Champion Header)
* Will be roping with Tom Richards at 2017 WNFR
ZEKE THURSTON - 2016 World Saddle Bronc Riding Champion
* Canadian rodeo highlights include 2008 Steer Riding Championship, 2013 Canadian Novice SB win and two CFR saddle bronc qualifications
* Career highlights: 2016 World title, 3 time Calgary Stampede $100,000 champion & 2015 Houston Rodeo Champ.
* From a rodeo family - brothers Wyatt and Sam are saddle bronc riders, sister Tess is a barrel racer and Dad, Skeeter, is a former CFR/NFR bronc rider.
* Zeke turned 23 during the 2017 Calgary Stampede; he and wife, Jayne, live near Big Valley, Alberta*
* Interesting fact: Zeke was part of of the Thurston Gang - two time Canadian Contract Act of the Year (trick riders and ropers) - 2005, 2007