Brazil's Costa extends world standings lead
LAS VEGAS - Marcos Costa had a long journey to his current destination - both figuratively and literally.
A native of Paraná, Brazil, Costa left his home and his parents - father, Vladetim, and mother, Joana, at age 14 to be a horse trainer 1,000 miles away in San Paulo, Brazil. Costa came to America in 2014, and lives in a guest house on Stran Smith's property in Childress, Texas.
Friday night, during Round 2 of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Polaris RANGER, Costa became the first Brazilian ever to win a tie-down roping round at the WNFR.
"I'm living my dream, I don't know what words to say," Costa said. "I feel like I'm flying and I'm on top of the world. I always dreamed about coming to America and being a world champion. To come here, make the Finals and win the go-round is fabulous.
"If it was my wish, I would've wanted to win (a round) before, but this was my time and I give all glory to God. I feel blessed, because that's a long road (to get here)."
Aboard his horse, Pouraguaja, Costa now has a lead of nearly $40,000 over second-place Shane Hanchey, as he aims to become the first person from his homeland to win a gold buckle.
"My horse, she's amazing," Costa said. "All the people were asking how she was going to be at the Finals. I was saying, 'I don't know, we're going to find out when we get there.' She has been doing great."
The Wright family of bronc riders has a history of catching fire in the Thomas & Mack Center, and it appears it's Ryder Wright's turn.
Wright put together an 86-point ride on Northcott Macza's Get Smart, and the 18-year-old has won the first two rounds of his WNFR career. Wright is now firmly in the WNFR average and world title races, and is riding better than any saddle bronc rider on the planet.
"Winning two in a row is awesome," he said. "You have to have the mindset of going for first (place) every time you nod your head. Last night set my confidence up a bit, and tonight I went in like I had nothing to lose."
Wright has moved from 14th to fourth in the world in just 16 seconds of work, and is now looking like one of the favorites to upset defending World Champion Jacobs Crawley, who remains in first by $46,000 over the rest of the field.
"All year I had been fighting to get into the Top 15, and I came here and I'm fourth," Wright said. "That's awesome."
Tim O'Connell won his fourth WNFR go-round buckle Friday night, while the guy he split it with was riding in just his second round at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Clayton Biglow, the 2016 PRCA/Resistol Bareback Riding Rookie of the Year, posted an 85-point ride on Rafter G Rodeo's Ankle Biter to tie O'Connell, who had the same score on Pete Carr's Classic Pro Rodeo's Betty Boop.
O'Connell, who is No. 1 in the world and placed third in the first round, says having the bulls-eye of the top spot on his back suits him well.
"Yeah, I still like it," O'Connell said of being the hunted. "I've chased enough, and it hasn't worked, so I like being the guy everyone is chasing. I told myself that I had to set the bar high, set the pace and get it rolling right away. My goal is to hit the gas pedal until the end of this."
Biglow, a 20-year-old who placed second during his first-ever WNFR ride last night, is riding like a veteran of Rodeo's Super Bowl, and is now fifth in the world standings.
"I really drew two great horses so far," Biglow said. "All the bareback riders are really good buddies, so when you get back there, start pulling your riggin' down and joking with your buddies, it feels like another rodeo. Heck yes the bright lights get to you a little bit, but when I'm riding I'm not thinking about who's in the stands. I'm thinking about my horse and winning."
Rookie bull rider Roscoe Jarboe is not only battling Garrett Tribble for the Rookie of the Year title at the WNFR, he's also chasing world and average titles.
The 20-year-old from New Plymouth, Idaho, split third in the first round, and then won Round 2 with an 88.5-point ride on Wayne Vold Rodeo's Cooper's Comet.
"The guys told me about my bull, and said he was good and I had a shot at winning, so I focused on my skills and let my reactions take over when they needed to," Jarboe said. "You see a lot of everything, the crowd and the bull, but hopefully not the dirt."
He stayed off the dirt, and took a victory lap, which has him first in the average and third in the world. However, he isn't letting the pressure get to him, and is riding with the poise of a veteran.
"I really don't know how to take it other than just one bull at a time and hope to ride all 10 and make the record books," he said. "I just keep riding - we all made it here for a reason, and we all came to ride. I just stayed calm, cool and collected, and cheered for the other bull riders. As long as they are doing good, then I hope I'll be doing good."
Team ropers Luke Brown and Jake Long both entered the WNFR in third place. After two nights, they're the team to beat in the world championship race.
This is the first season the pair has roped together, and after their 4.0-second run Friday night, they couldn't be in a better position.
"I've never had a realistic shot at a gold buckle. It means a lot to me to have a year like we've had," Long said. "My job is as easy as it's ever been. Between Luke and my horse (2016 PRCA/AQHA Heel Horse of the Year Colonel), I don't have any excuse for anything."
This is Brown's ninth WNFR, and he's shown that he's one of the most consistent ropers in the sport, regardless of who he's partnered with.
Last season, Brown finished second in the world, and now has another great look at his first gold buckle. He knows earning checks while staying in the average race is the path to a title.
"If you don't get a time, you can't win," Brown said. "But you have to be aggressive, too. We'll rope every steer the best we can, and try to keep it simple."
Steer wrestler Jason Thomas isn't letting the big stage of his first WNFR affect his performance. A night after finishing out of the money, the Benton, Ark., rebounded with his first WNFR round win thanks to a time of 3.5 seconds.
"It's just another rodeo," Thomas said. "The start and the atmosphere are the only differences from everywhere else, and of course, it's 10 days.
"It's not a sprint, it's a long marathon. And you can't let one day depict what is going to happen the next day. Whether it's good or bad, wake up the next morning and go at 'em again. I don't know if you ever can slow your heartbeat down here. If you do that, you're not going to do very well."
The win, aboard Jake Rinehart's horse Rio moved Thomas up two spots to second in the world standings, as he trails leader Clayton Hass by less than $5,000.
Barrel racer Kimmie Wall is making her move toward the world title. After entering the WNFR fifth in the world, the Roosevelt, Utah, native finished in second place in Round 1, and then, for an encore, won Round 2.
Aboard her horse Foxy, Wall clocked a time of 13.79 seconds, and is now second in the world standings, and first in the WNFR average race.
"It's totally thrilling," Wall said. "Moving up two spots on the ground was helpful, but Foxy knows her job well and she really, really fired tonight. Today my son told me, 'Mom, I really want to go to the South Point tonight, so you had better step it up this round.'"
The 58th annual Wrangler NFR continues Saturday with the third round at the Thomas & Mack Center. The action will be televised live and in HD on CBS Sports Net (DirecTV channel 221 and DISH Network channel 158) from 7-10 p.m. PT.
Canadian Stock Lights It Up in Vegas
LAS VEGAS, NEV - December 2, 2016
After an opening round that saw three events won by first time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifiers (Pamela Capper in the barrel race, 18 year-old Ryder Wright in the bronc riding and Canadians Levi Simpson and Jeremy Buhler in team roping)—round two featured a pair of four-legged superstars from the north side of the 49th parallel as the best of the Canadian contingent.
In a sensational round of bronc riding that featured the eliminator pen, the eighteen year-old Utah sensation, Ryder Wright, did it again, this time with an 86 score on the three time Saddle Bronc of the Year in Canada (including 2016), Northcott-Macza’s Get Smart.
“I’d never been on him but I’d seen him with my dad a couple of years ago here,” the youngest of the five Wrights at this WNFR commented. “He tried to buck me off every jump but I managed to sneak by him.”
The back to back wins have moved the teenage talent from 14th place coming into the Finals all the way to 4th place with over $133.000 won.
Eight one hundredths of a second doesn’t seem like a long time but when you’re on the back of the Beutler and Son bronc, Killer Bee, it’s awful close to an eternity. Big Valley’s Zeke Thurston won Tucson in 2015 on the great gelding with 90 points but this time it was the horse’s turn with the stopwatch showing 7.92 seconds when the two time WNFR qualifier hit the ground. It was a happier story for Hudson Hope, BC’s Jake Watson as he posted an 83 on Frontier Rodeo’s Tip Off to take home the fourth place cheque of $11,000. The third Canadian bronc rider, Nanton’s Clay Elliott, who just a few weeks ago claimed his first Canadian bronc riding title, finished out of the money in round two with a 75.5 point ride on Pickett Rodeo’s Faded Memories. And another of the Wright clan, Jake, placed 5th in the round with an 80.5 point ride on the Calgary Stampede’s Tiger Warrior.
And to cap off a great night for Canadian stock contractors, Wayne Vold’s spectacular yellow bull, Cooper’s Comet, carried Roscoe Jarboe of New Plymouth, Idaho to a whopping 88.5 score to top the field in the bull riding. The bull had a great trip and the watch read exactly 8.0 seconds when the Idaho cowboy hit the ground. The 88.5 score is the highest to date at this year’s Finals and a Thomas and Mack packed house roared its approval when the score was announced.
The two Canadian rough stock successes meant that two of the three go-round winner buckles went to Canadian stock contractors.
In the bareback riding, season leader Tim O’Connell of Zwingle, Iowa added to his season lead, splitting the round with California cowboy and 2016 Medicine Hat Stampede Champion Clayton Biglow, both recording 85 points. Canadians Jake Vold and Orin Larsen struggled in the round—Vold posting a 69.5 on Frontier Rodeo’s Senora and Larsen managing a 73 score on Beutler and Sons What Happens.
The Canadian team roping pair of Simpson and Buhler added a sixth place cheque to their first round win - posting a 4.9 to pocket $4230 a man. Second in the round were 2016 defending Canadian Champions, Dustin Bird and Russell Cardoza; the $20,732 cheque moved Bird, the Cutbank, Montana header, to #1 in the world All-Around standings.
In the steer wrestling, it was the 2013 PRCA Resistol Rookie of the Year Jason Thomas, a Benton, Arkansas bulldogger, smoking a 3.5 second run to capture the round. And Brazilian tie down roper Marcos Costa turned in a 7.6 second run to edge veteran Cade Swor by a tenth of a second for the go-round win.
On a night that featured nine runs under 14 seconds, the fastest of the fast was Utah cowgirl, Kimmie Wall, with a blistering 13.79.