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Jason Miller Moves Into Wrangler NFR Steer Wrestling Average Lead in Round 8

Jason Miller

Jason Miller photo by Mike Copeman, courtesy of PRCA.

Steer wrestler Jason Miller moved into the average lead when he won his third round of the week in front of 17,558 fans Thursday night at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Miller of Lance Creek, Wyo., topped Round 8 with a 3.9-second run that was one-tenth of a second faster than Billy Bugenig and Mickey Gee. Miller has failed to place just once – in Round 6 – at the Finals as he moved to second in the world standings. He trails California bulldogger Luke Branquinho by just $9,659 in the world standings with two rounds to go.

“It’s going to come right down to the go-rounds every single night,” Miller said. “A guy can’t look at the average and think he’s going to do well in the average, because it’s go-rounds the next two nights with everybody tight right there at the end. It’s going to be decided on Saturday night.”

Even after taking the lead on his run, Miller had to sweat out runs by Branquinho and Shawn Greenfield, the other two cowboys who came into tonight in the top three in the average race.

“When Luke went, I thought he was going to have a chance to win the round,” Miller said, “and when Shawn went, I thought he was going to have a chance to win the round.”

Branquinho’s steer didn’t fall cleanly, and his 6.8-second run was out of the money, which dropped him to third in the average – a race he’d led much of the week. Greenfield didn’t place in the round with his 4.6-second run, but held onto second place in the average.

“If Luke or Shawn beat me, I should have just done better earlier in the year or earlier on in the Finals,” said Miller, who has won $78,173 in Las Vegas. “Really, we’re not competing against each other. You draw a steer, and you have to be as fast as you can on that steer every night, and whoever’s the fastest goes to the pay window. If one of them two guys beat me, well, I should have done better earlier. It’s my fault, so hats off to them.”

GAC is celebrating the union of rodeo, country music and Wrangler in December by broadcasting the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo live, December 1-10 at 10/9c each night. Plus, eight-time All-Around Champion, Trevor Brazile plays host to Suzanne Alexander and Joe Nichols on his ranch, deep in the heart of Texas in our special, Inside the WNFR 2011. Whether you are new to the sport or a die-hard fan, this must-see show gives you the 4-1-1 on all the rodeo event categories from Steer Wrestling and Barrel Racing, to the death-defying Bull Riding event.

Watch streaming highlights from each round of the WNFR here »

Check out our WNFR photo gallery, updated daily with photos from each round »

Three-time defending World Champion J.W. Harris won his third round of the week with an 87.5-point ride on Korkow Rodeo’s Black Velvet to claim a $17,885 payday and take over the lead in the average race as he tries to make up ground on world standings leader Shane Proctor. Harris trails the season-long leader by $19,946, but Proctor is only fourth in the average race and there’s a $24,230 difference between first and fourth in the average payout.

“I’m in the position that I want to be,” Harris said. “I’ve just got to keep doing what I did tonight and everything will fall my way. Pressure is self-inflicted and I don’t ever have any pressure on me. I feel like I put the pressure on everybody else to go out there and do it”

Harris has now earned $62,740 on the week to lead all bull riders, and he’s done it on a broken foot that he suffered after his winning ride in Round 4.

It comes as no surprise that Utah’s Kaycee Feild won another round on Thursday. Well on his way to winning his first world title, the bareback rider was joined in the winner’s circle by four-time World Champion Bobby Mote and Texan Clint Cannon. The three turned in 83.5-point rides to win $14,231 each in the round.

Feild topped the round for a record-tying fifth time in 2011, equaling the mark set by Mote at the 2009 Wrangler NFR. Mote won his second round, while Cannon collected a first-place check for the first time in 2011.

“I’ve been riding strong; I feel like this has been one of my best Finals riding,” said Cannon, who topped Carr Pro Rodeo’s Real Deal. “I think I’ve been seventh (just out of the money) four or five times this week, but I keep telling myself, ‘I’m rolling 7’s, I’m fixing to hit a winner. I can’t crap out all the time.”

Mote won for the second time in three rounds and has now claimed checks in four straight rounds after riding his way to a Round 8 win on Flying U Rodeo’s Comanchero.

“I had him in the short round of Reno this year,” Mote said. “That horse can be a handful. He was really trying to buck today. But when he tried to circle back around to the right, he didn’t leave himself enough room and got into the fence, and it cost us. We could have been a lot more (points).”

Feild topped Andrews Rodeo’s Walk Hard for his share of the win.

“He’s an older horse that Sammy (Andrews) had kept home for a long time until this year,” Feild said. “Jason Havens has been on him and told me I would have my hands full; I definitely did. That horse is extremely strong. When he was jumping, he was jumping long instead of getting high. Makes it tough to beat him to the ground.”

With the win, Feild has all but locked up the world title. He continues to lead both the average and the world standings, pushing his season earnings to $251,236. He’s also still first in the Ram Top Gun Award standings with $110,577 earned through the first eight rounds of the Wrangler NFR. The award – which includes a new Ram truck – goes to the cowboy who earns the most in a single event.

It took a run of 7.7 seconds or better to earn a check in tie-down roping on Thursday. Scott Kormos turned in his fastest run of the week in a fast round to grab his only first-place payday of the Finals thus far. The Teague, Texas, cowboy stopped the clock in 7.2 seconds for a $17,885 check.

“It feels like I’ve roped well this week – better than I ever have,” Kormos said. “It’s just been little things that have been happening through the week that can cause you to go from being 7.5 to 8.5 or 8.4 or nine-flat. There are just so many things that can happen. Tonight, I kind of just let my hair out, just try to go fast and see what happened.”

Not much changed in the race for a gold buckle in the event. Tuf Cooper split second and third in the round with a 7.3-second run to maintain the top spot in the world standings. Hico, Texas, cowboy Cody Ohl didn’t earn a check in the round, but still holds a four-second lead over Tyson Durfey and Matt Shiozawa in the average standings – which pays $45,865 to the winner. Ohl is $41,605 behind Cooper in the world standings.

Brady Tryan and Jake Long failed to earn a check in the first four rounds, but they have now made trips to the pay window in four consecutive nights. They claimed a first-place check for the first time on Thursday with a 3.7-second run, tying them for the second-fastest run of the week in team roping.

“I’m so happy our week turned around,” Tryan said. “After not roping very well the first three or four days, I was getting a little depressed, to tell the truth. I didn’t shave before the fifth go-round, and we finally placed, so I haven’t shaved since. I don’t even believe in stuff like that, but we’ve placed every night since, so I’m not shaving for the next few days.”

Long is just as relieved to have had more success in recent rounds.

“I’ve been able to enjoy it a little more, but it seems like I was more nervous in the first few rounds this year than last,” he said. “Tonight, my horse stepped by that steer and I couldn’t see him when I started to throw. I could kind of feel where the steer was, and I was excited when I saw him right as my rope left my hand, because I had guessed right about where he would be.”

Trevor Brazile and Patrick Smith, the 2010 world champion team ropers, took their first no-time of the week in Round 8, but still hold an 8.4-second advantage in the average race. For the first time this week, headers and heelers from different teams are sitting atop the world standings. Clay Tryan is leading the heading standings, but partner Travis Graves dropped to second in the heeling standings.

Cory Petska took the world standings lead among heelers as he and Matt Sherwood claimed a third-place check in the round. Sherwood is second in the heading standings, and the pair sits fifth in the average, while Clay Tryan and Graves are one spot ahead in fourth.

Wrangler NFR rookie Jacobs Crawley won his first round and only his second check of the Finals with an 83.5-point ride on Flying 5’s Sundance in Round 8.

“That’s a really good horse, especially for this pen, which is supposed to be the semi-eliminators,” Crawley said. “She’s just a little droppy, and I thought I missed the dang thing out. She kind of pinned me in the chute for a little bit, and they gave me a free roll, fortunately. So the first part of the ride, I was mad. I was like, ‘Son of a gun, I missed her out.’ Then after a couple of jumps, I just said, ‘Forget it,’ and went to her.”

Utah cowboy Jesse Wright took second in the round and held the top spot in the average. He’s third in the world standings behind Taos Muncy and Wright’s brother, Cody. Muncy also sits second the average, setting up a two-round battle between himself and Jesse Wright for the gold buckle. Iowa cowboy Wade Sundell is fourth in the world and third in the average and still has a chance to crash the party himself.

Jane Melby of Backus, Minn., won her second round of the week with a 13.78-second run in the barrel racing to push her Wrangler NFR earnings to $41,827.

“She was a little wild in the alleyway,” Melby said of her horse, Beauty. “I knew how to start her. I was OK with her being wild. I was off her the fifth and the sixth round. I had someone say, ‘You hit a barrel in the second round and won the third, so if you hit a barrel in the seventh round, you’ll win the eighth.’ It happened.”

On a night when her top two rivals for the gold buckle tipped barrels – which come with five-second penalties – Lindsay Sears made a clean run and took some control over her own destiny in Las Vegas. She moved to first in the average as Sherry Cervi dropped to fourth and Brittany Pozzi to eighth. Pozzi continues to lead the world standings, but her $9,072 advantage over Sears won’t hold up if the Canadian holds on to claim the first-place average check.

53rd annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo
Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nev.
December 8, 2011
Eighth round

Bareback riding: 1. (tie) Kaycee Feild, Payson, Utah, on Andrews Rodeo’s Walk Hard; Bobby Mote, Culver, Ore., on Flying U Rodeo Company’s Comanchero, and Clint Cannon, Waller, Texas, on Carr Pro Rodeo’s Real Deal, 83.5 points, $14,231 each; 4. Will Lowe, Canyon, Texas, 82.5, $7,500; 5. Casey Colletti, Pueblo, Colo., 82, $4,615; 6. Tilden Hooper, Carthage, Texas, 81.0, $2,885; 7. Steven Dent, Mullen, Neb., 80.5; 8. Jason Havens, Prineville, Ore., 76.5; 9. Cody DeMers, Kimberly, Idaho, 72.5; 10. Royce Ford, Briggsdale, Colo., 72; 11. Wes Stevenson, Lubbock, Texas, 70.5; 12. (tie) Ryan Gray, Cheney, Wash.; Brian Bain, Culver, Ore.; Steven Peebles, Redmond, Ore., and Matt Bright, Azle, Texas, NS. Average standings: 1. Kaycee Field, 690.5 points on eight head; 2. Bobby Mote, 663; 3. Steven Dent, 660; 4. Casey Colletti, 657; 5. Will Lowe, 654.5; 6. Clint Cannon, 650.8; 7. Cody DeMers, 637; 8. Wes Stevenson, 631.5; 9. Jason Havens, 613; 10. Ryan Gray, 568.5 on seven head; 11. Tilden Hooper, 559.5; 12. Brian Bain, 486 on six head; 13. Matt Bright, 463.5; 14. Royce Ford, 380 on five head; 15. Steven Peebles, 329 on four head..

Steer wrestling: 1. Jason Miller, Lance Creek, Wyo., 3.9 seconds, $17,885; 2. (tie) Billy Bugenig, Ferndale, Calif., and Mickey Gee, Wichita Falls, Texas, 4.0, $12,404 each; 4. (tie) Olin Hannum, Malad, Idaho, and Seth Brockman, Wheatland, Wyo., 4.3, $6,058 each; 6. (tie) Dean Gorsuch, Gering, Neb.; Blake Knowles, Heppner, Ore., and Casey Martin, Sulphur, La., 4.4, $962 each; 9. Shawn Greenfield, Lakeview, Ore., 4.6; 10. Todd Suhn, Hermosa, S.D., 5.4; 11. Trevor Knowles, Mount Vernon, Ore., 5.9; 12. Luke Branquinho, Los Alamos, Calif., 6.8; 13. Stockton Graves, Newkirk, Okla., 11.6; 14. Jake Rinehart, Highmore, S.D., 13.9; 15. Sean Mulligan, Coleman, Okla., NT. Average: 1. Jason Miller, 32.4 seconds on eight head; 2. Shawn Greenfield, 32.6; 3. Luke Branquinho, 33.6; 4. Billy Bugenig, 37.6; 5. Trevor Knowles, 42.6; 6. Jake Rinehart, 45.8; 7. Blake Knowles, 54.0; 8. Dean Gorsuch, 32.7 on seven head; 9. Seth Brockman, 33.3; 10. Todd Suhn, 42.6; 11. Sean Mulligan, 48.8; 12. Mickey Gee, 59.9; 13. Stockton Graves, 33.0 on six head; 14. Casey Martin, 48.4; 15.Olin Hannum, 23.5 on five head.

Team roping: 1. Brady Tryan, Huntley, Mont./Jake Long, Coffeyville, Kan., 3.7 seconds, $17,885 each; 2. Kaleb Driggers, Albany, Ga./Brad Culpepper, Poulan, Ga., 3.8, $14,135; 3. Matt Sherwood, Pima , Ariz./Cory Petska, Marana, Ariz., 4.0, $10,673; 4. (tie) Spencer Mitchell, Colusa, Calif./Broc Cresta, Santa Rosa, Calif., and Riley Minor, Ellensburg, Wash./Brady Minor, Ellensburg, Wash., 4.4, $6,058 each; 6. Jake Barnes, Scottsdale, Ariz./Walt Woodard, Stephenville, Texas, 4.6, $2,885; 7. Brandon Beers, Powell Butte, Ore./Jim Ross Cooper, Monument, N.M., 4.9; 8. Clay Tryan, Billings, Mont./Travis Graves, Jay, Okla., 8.9; 9. Turtle Powell, Stephenville, Texas/Jhett Johnson, Casper, Wyo., 9.3; 10. (tie) Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas/Patrick Smith, Midland, Texas; Derrick Begay, Seba Dalkai, Ariz./Cesar  de la Cruz, Tucson, Ariz.; Erich Rogers, Round Rock, Ariz./Kory Koontz, Sudan, Texas; Luke Brown, Stephenville, Texas/Martin Lucero, Stephenville, Texas; Chad Masters, Cedar Hill, Tenn./Jade Corkill, Fallon, Nev., and Colby Lovell, Madisonville, Texas/York Gill, Memphis, Tenn., NT. Average: 1. Trevor Brazile/Patrick Smith, 34.1 seconds on seven head; 2. Turtle Powell/Jhett Johnson, 42.5; 3. Jake Barnes/Walt Woodard, 56.4; 4. Clay Tryan/Travis Graves, 64.8; 5. Matt Sherwood/Cory Petska, 31.5 on six head; 6. Kaleb Driggers/Brad Culpepper, 41.1; 7. Chad Masters/Jade Corkill, 49.3; 8. Brady Tryan/Jake Long, 49.9; 9. Luke Brown/Martin Lucero, 25.8 on five head; 10. Colby Lovell/York Gill, 31.6; 11. Derrick Begay/Cesar  de la Cruz, 46.0; 12. Spencer Mitchell/Broc Cresta, 17.7 on four head; 13. Erich Rogers/Kory Koontz, 32.3; 14. Brandon Beers/Jim Ross Cooper, 8.9 on two head; 15. Riley Minor/Brady Minor, 23.1.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Jacobs Crawley, College Station, Texas, 83.5 points on Flying Five Rodeo’s Sundance, $17,855; 2. Jesse Wright, Milford, Utah, 82.5, $14,135; 3.    (tie) Jesse Bail, Camp Crook, S.D., and Chad Ferley, Oelrichs, S.D., 81, $9,087 each; 5. Wade Sundell, Boxholm, Iowa, 80, $4,615; 6.   Ty Atchison, Jackson, Mo., 76.5, $2,885; 7. Taos Muncy, Corona, N.M., 73; 8. (tie) Cody Wright, Milford, Utah;  Bradley Harter, Weatherford, Texas; Cody DeMoss, Heflin, La.; Heith DeMoss, Heflin, La.; Tyler Corrington, Hastings, Minn.; Chuck Schmidt, Keldron, S.D., Sam Spreadborough, Snyder, Texas, and Jesse Kruse, Great Falls, Mont., NS. Average: 1. Jesse Wright, 681.5 points on eight head; 2. Taos Muncy, 637.5; 3. Wade Sundell, 581 on seven head; 4. Chad Ferley, 571.5; 5. Bradley Harter, 564; 6. Jacobs Crawley, 461.5 on six head; 7. Ty Atchison, 447.5; 8. Jesse Bail, 404.5 on five head; 9. Jesse Kruse, 371; 10. Cody Wright, 335.5 on four head; 11. Tyler Corrington, 328.5; 12. Chuck Schmidt, 328; 13. Sam Spreadborough, 228.5 on three head; 14. Heith DeMoss, 83 on one head; 15. Cody DeMoss, 79.5.

Tie-down roping: 1. Scott Kormos, Teague, Texas, 7.2 seconds, $17,885; 2. (tie) Tuf Cooper, Decatur, Texas, and Ryan Jarrett, Comanche, Okla., 7.3, $12,404 each; 4. (tie) Timber Moore, Aubrey, Texas, and Jerrad Hofstetter, Portales, N.M., 7.6, $6,058 each; 6. Adam Gray, Seymour, Texas, 7.7, $2,885; 7. (tie) Tyson Durfey, Colbert, Wash., and Clif Cooper, Decatur, Texas, 7.9 each; 9. Cody Ohl, Hico, Texas, 8.7; 10. Matt Shiozawa, Chubbuck, Idaho, 9.4; 11. Cory Solomon, Prairie View, Texas, 10.1; 12. Shane Hanchey, Sulphur, La., 10.6; 13. Clint Cooper, Decatur, Texas, 16.1; 14. (tie) Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas, and Hunter Herrin, Apache, Okla., NT. Average: 1. Cody Ohl, 64.9 seconds on eight head; 2. (tie) Tyson Durfey and Matt Shiozawa, 68.9 each; 4. Adam Gray, 72.8; 5. Cory Solomon, 72.9; 6. Clint Cooper, 73.2; 7. Scott Kormos, 73.5; 8. Tuf Cooper, 74.5; 9. Ryan Jarrett, 75.9; 10. Timber Moore, 78; 11. Jerrad Hofstetter, 83.8; 12. Hunter Herrin, 72.1 on seven head; 13. Shane Hanchey, 75.2; 14. Clif Cooper, 40.6 on five head; 15. Trevor Brazile, 58.7.

Barrel racing: 1. Jane Melby, Backus, Minn., 13.78 seconds, $17,885; 2. Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, S.D., 13.84, $14,135; 3. (tie) Lindsay Sears, Nanton, Alberta, and Tammy Fischer, Ledbetter, Texas, 13.99, $9,087; 5. Jody Sheffield, Ogden, Utah, 14.01, $4,615; 6. Jeanne Anderson, White City, Kan., 14.07, $2,885; 7. Christina Richman, Glendora, Calif., 14.13; 8. Britany Fleck, Mandan, N.D., 14.24; 9. Jill Moody, Letcher, S.D., 14.43; 10. Brenda Mays, Terrebonne, Ore., 14.51; 11. Brittany Pozzi, Victoria, Texas, 18.49; 12. Angie Meadors, Blanchard, Okla., 18.89; 13. Carlee Pierce, Stephenville, Texas, 19.07; 14. Sherry Cervi, Marana, Ariz., 19.32; 15. Sue Smith, Blackfoot, Idaho, 24.18. Average: 1. Lindsay Sears, 111.76 seconds on eight runs; 2. Christina Richman, 113.96; 3. Brenda Mays, 114.42; 4. Sherry Cervi, 116.99; 5. Jody Sheffield, 117.50; 6. Tammy Fischer, 118.26; 7. Jeanne Anderson, 118.69; 8. Brittany Pozzi, 120.76; 9. Lisa Lockhart, 121.83; 10. Angie Meadors, 123.32; 11. Jill Moody, 125.02; 12. Jane Melby, 127.66; 13. Sue Smith, 132.65; 14. Britany Fleck, 134.17; 15. Carlee Pierce, 140.62.

Bull riding: 1. J.W. Harris, Mullin, Texas, 87.5 points on Korkow Rodeos’ Black Velvet, $17,885; 2. L.J. Jenkins, Porum, Okla., 86.0, $14,135; 3. Clayton Foltyn, El Campo, Texas, 85.5, $10,673; 4. Bobby Welsh, Gillette, Wyo., 82.5, $7,500; 5. (tie) Shane Proctor, Grand Coulee, Wash.; Jacob O’Mara, Prairieville, La.; Wesley Silcox, Santaquin, Utah; Trevor Kastner, Ardmore, Okla., Chandler Bownds, Lubbock, Texas; Clayton Savage, Cheyenne, Wyo.; Tate Stratton, Kellyville, Okla.; Tyler Willis, Wheatland, Wyo.; Seth Glause, Cheyenne, Wyo.; Steve Woolsey, Payson, Utah, and Cody Whitney, Asher, Okla., NS. Average: 1. J.W. Harris, 353.5 points on four head; 2. Jacob O’Mara, 345.5; 3. Tyler Willis, 336; 4. Shane Proctor, 330.5; 5. L.J. Jenkins, 329; 6. Bobby Welsh, 324.5; 7. Trevor Kastner, 227.5 on three head; 8. Chandler Bownds, 180 on two head; 9. Steve Woolsey, 172.5; 10. Seth Glause, 172; 11. Tate Stratton, 166.5; 12. Clayton Savage, 160; 13. Wesley Silcox, 89.5 on one head; 14. Cody Whitney, 88; 15. Clayton Foltyn, 85.5.

Coverage and standings provided courtesy of the PRCA and ProRodeo.com.

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