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Wrangler NFR Rookies Continue to Turn Heads in Las Vegas

Tyrell Smith

Dec. 13, 2012 – Saddle Bronc Rider Tyrell Smith finishes in first place on Cool Runnings in round 8 of the 2012 Wrangler NFR. Photo courtesy of PRCA, photo credit Mike Copeman.

So much for rookie jitters.

The 29 first-timers at this year’s Wrangler National Finals Rodeo have pulled their weight through the first eight rounds.

Bradley Bynum, the only NFR rookie in the tie-down roping this year, and saddle bronc rider Tyrell Smith each put together eighth-round victories Thursday night to keep the newcomers’ momentum rolling at the Thomas & Mack Center.

“I made (the NFR) the last weekend of the season, on the last day,” said Bynum, who caught and tied his calf in 7.2 seconds. “I’m just going to try to keep having fun and see where it goes from here.”

See all the photo highlights from Round 8 >>

Smith seems to be picking up momentum as the NFR wears on. He finished second in the seventh round before returning to win the eighth with an 84-point ride aboard Carr Pro Rodeo’s Cool Runnings.

“At first I was a little jittery to be at my first NFR, and I put some pressure on myself that I should have more money than I do, or be higher up in the standings,” Smith said. “I started to fall back in my own routine and it’s been going well.”

Watch the Wrangler Round by Round recaps here >>

The two Round 8 victories for NFR rookies moved the group’s total to 20 overall, out of a possible 80. Barrel racer Mary Walker leads the way with four, while saddle bronc rider Jake Wright and team roper Brock Hanson each have two.

The NFR rookies have won $862,752 through eight rounds, about 22.9 percent of the money that has been handed out thus far. Twenty-seven of the 29 have collected at least one check, 15 have won at least one round and 24 have won more than $14,000.

GAC is the official broadcast home of the WNFR. Watch all the action live on GAC December 6 – 15 beginning at 10p|9c every night. Check out our special WNFR section for photos, the full schedule and to watch highlights from last year’s WNFR!

While Smith won the round, the gold-buckle race in saddle bronc riding became much more interesting when world leader Jesse Wright was bucked off. The door opened a bit for second-place Wade Sundell and third-place Cody DeMoss, who is the only man in the field who has made eight qualified rides in as many attempts.

In tie-down roping, Tuf Cooper increased his lead in the world race, if only slightly, over Justin Maass. The two finished third and fourth in the round, respectively, and Cooper holds an $8,690 lead in a race that

Round 8 was Canadian Night at the NFR, and barrel racer Lindsay Sears – from Nanton, Alberta – celebrated in style. Sears, the only NFR qualifier from Canada this year, turned the cloverleaf pattern in 13.69 seconds. Mary Walker did not place, but still holds a lead of more than $28,000 over Brittany Pozzi in the world standings.

Other Canadian connections on the night included winners of the Wrangler Top Bucking Stock Awards, given nightly. The ironically named American Trip, of Outlawbuckers Rodeo in Canada, was the top bareback horse, while Harvey Northcott Rodeo’s Get Smart won top billing in the bronc riding.

Could it be that ProRodeo sees its team roping world champions come from different teams for the first time since 2007?

If the rodeo had ended Thursday night, header Chad Masters (who ropes with Clay O’Brien Cooper) and heeler Patrick Smith (who ropes with Trevor Brazile) would have been the world champions. It’s not the first time Masters has been in this sort of spot. He was on the right side of a split title in 2007, but on the wrong end one year earlier.

Brazile and Smith continue to lead the world standings, but a broken barrier hurt their cause on Thursday night. Masters and Cooper collected a fifth-place check and are first in the average race, which pays $46,821 to the winner at the end of 10 rounds.

Last year’s world champion header, Turtle Powell, and partner Dugan Kelly won the eighth round in 3.9 seconds.

“I know people watching at home think, ‘Why can’t those guys rope better?’” said Powell, who had to wait until Round 7 to collect his first check. “If you get off to a good start, it’s easy, and if you don’t, it’s hard to get your timing back in these conditions.”

The race in steer wrestling remains equally hazy.

Fowler, Colo., cowboy Wade Sumpter became the first man to win multiple go-rounds at this year’s NFR, sharing the eighth-round title with K.C. Jones in 3.4 seconds.

“I’ve really tried to stay positive and keep the same attitude every night,” said Jones, who had yet to collect an NFR check prior to the round victory.

Sumpter moved to second place in the world standings, $18,125 behind three-time World Champion Luke Branquinho. If the rodeo ended Thursday night, Branquinho would have collected a fourth gold buckle, but there are still a handful of cowboys who will have a say in the race, including Les Shepperson, who leads the average race by more than six full seconds.

Reigning World Champion Bareback Rider Kaycee Feild made another dramatic move toward successfully defending his title.

The Payson, Utah, cowboy was the last to nod his head in the eighth round, and treated the 17,479 in attendance to the highest-marked ride of the night. The 25-year-old spurred Harry Vold Rodeo’s Kate’s Hot Sister to 87 points and another first-place check worth $18,257.

“I just need to keep it up and get on each horse with a mindset of no mistakes and concentrate on perfect rides,” Feild said. “I’m happy with the way everything is turning out.”

He should be. It was the third time Feild shared at least part of a go-round title at this year’s NFR and it boosted his lead in the world standings to $39,992 over three-time World Champion Will Lowe. Feild is also dominating the average race with 672 points on eight head.

Just two bull riders made the eight-second whistle on Thursday, with Reigning World Champion Shane Proctor winning the round with an 83.5-point ride on Lancaster & Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Cowboy Coffee.

“I expect to win every time and that made me ride tight here at the beginning,” Proctor said. “I’m starting to loosen up now.”

Clayton Savage was the only other bull rider to make eight. The last time only two bull riders made qualified rides was Round 7 in 2011.

Three-time World Champion J.W. Harris leads the world championship race by just over $2,500 over NFR rookie Cody Teel. Teel ranks fourth in the average, however, with Harris fifth, so Teel would have won his first world title if the season had ended after eight rounds.

Instead, there are two rounds remaining, and the NFR rookies will look to keep their momentum going in Round 9, which begins at 6:45 p.m. Friday night.

54th annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo

Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas

Eighth round, Dec. 13, 2012

Bareback riding: 1. Kaycee Feild, Payson, Utah, 87 points on Harry Vold Rodeo’s Kate’s Hot Sister, $18,257; 2. Will Lowe, Canyon, Texas, 85, $14,429; 3. J.R. Vezain, Cowley, Wyo., 82.0, $10,895; 4. Bobby Mote, Stephenville, Texas, 81, $7,656; 5. Jessy Davis, Power, Mont., 80.5, $4,712; 6. (tie) Steven Dent, Mullen, Neb., and Justin McDaniel, Porum, Okla., 80, $1,472 each; 8. Steven Peebles, Redmond, Ore., 79; 9. Matt Bright, Azle, Texas, 77; 10. (tie) Wes Stevenson, Lubbock, Texas; Caleb Bennett, Morgan, Utah, and Brian Bain, Culver, Ore., 75.5; 13. Casey Colletti, Pueblo, Colo., 67; 14. (tie) Winn Ratliff, Leesville, La., and Jared Keylon, Uniontown, Kan., NS. Average leaders: 1. Kaycee Feild, Payson, Utah, 672 points on eight head; 2. Will Lowe, Canyon, Texas, 654.5; 3. J.R. Vezain, Cowley, Wyo., 643.5; 4. Bobby Mote, Stephenville, Texas, 640.5; 5. Jessy Davis, Power, Mont., 640; 6. Justin McDaniel, Porum, Okla., 639; 7. Caleb Bennett, Morgan, Utah, 627; 8. Wes Stevenson, Lubbock, Texas, 626.5; 9. Brian Bain, Culver, Ore., 623; 10. Steven Peebles, Redmond, Ore., 568  on seven head; 11. Matt Bright, Azle, Texas, 552; 12. Winn Ratliff, Leesville, La., 481 on six head; 13. Steven Dent, Mullen, Neb., 461; 14. Casey Colletti, Pueblo, Colo., 406 on five head; 15. Jared Keylon, Uniontown, Kan., 380.

Steer wrestling: 1. (tie) Wade Sumpter, Fowler, Colo., and K.C. Jones, Decatur, Texas, 3.4 seconds, $16,343 each; 3. Bray Armes, Gruver, Texas, 3.6, $10,895; 4. Todd Suhn, Hermosa, S.D., 3.7, $7,656; 5. (tie) Dean Gorsuch, Gering, Neb., and Matt Reeves, Cross Plains, Texas, 4.3, $3,828 each; 7. (tie) Ethen Thouvenell, Napa, Calif., and Beau Clark, Belgrade, Mont., 4.5 each; 9. Les Shepperson, Midwest, Wyo., 4.7; 10. Luke Branquinho, Los Alamos, Calif., 4.8; 11. Tom Lewis, Lehi, Utah, 5.0; 12. Casey Martin, Sulphur, La., 6.3; 13. Billy Bugenig, Ferndale, Calif., 6.6; 14. Trevor Knowles, Mount Vernon, Ore., 7.9; 15. Gabe Ledoux, Kaplan, La., NT. Average leaders: 1. Les Shepperson, Midwest, Wyo., 34.6 seconds on eight head; 2. Casey Martin, Sulphur, La., 40.8; 3. Beau Clark, Belgrade, Mont., 41.6; 4. Bray Armes, Gruver, Texas, 45.0; 5. K.C. Jones, Decatur, Texas, 49.1; 6. Dean Gorsuch, Gering, Neb., 53.8; 7. Luke Branquinho, Los Alamos, Calif., 28.1 on seven head; 8. (tie) Gabe Ledoux, Kaplan, La., and Todd Suhn, Hermosa, S.D., 32.3 each; 10. Billy Bugenig, Ferndale, Calif., 32.8; 11. Trevor Knowles, Mount Vernon, Ore., 33.6; 12. Wade Sumpter, Fowler, Colo., 34.7; 13. Ethen Thouvenell, Napa, Calif., 39.4; 14. Matt Reeves, Cross Plains, Texas, 41.7; 15. Tom Lewis, Lehi, Utah, 37.8 on six head.

Team roping: 1. Turtle Powell, Stephenville, Texas/Dugan Kelly, Paso Robles, Calif., 3.9 seconds, $18,257 each; 2. Derrick Begay, Seba Dalkai, Ariz./Cesar  de la Cruz, Tucson, Ariz., 4.3, $14,429; 3. Keven Daniel, Franklin, Tenn./Chase Tryan, Helena, Mont., 4.6, $10,895; 4. Brock Hanson, Casa Grande, Ariz./Ryan Motes, Weatherford, Texas, 4.9, $7,656; 5. Chad Masters, Cedar Hill, Tenn./Clay O’Brien Cooper, Gardnerville, Nev., 5.3, $4,712; 6. Clay Tryan, Billings, Mont./Travis Graves, Jay, Okla., 7.7, $2,945; 7. Dustin Bird, Cut Bank, Mont./Paul Eaves, Millsap, Texas, 13.6; 8. Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas/Patrick Smith, Lipan, Texas, 13.9; 9. (tie) Kaleb Driggers, Albany, Ga./Jade Corkill, Fallon, Nev.; Luke Brown, Stephenville, Texas/Martin Lucero, Stephenville, Texas; Colby Lovell, Madisonville, Texas/Russell Cardoza, Terrebonne, Ore.; Travis Tryan, Billings, Mont./Jake Long, Coffeyville, Kan.; Erich Rogers, Round Rock, Ariz./Kory Koontz, Sudan, Texas; Charly Crawford, Prineville, Ore./Jim Ross Cooper, Monument, N.M., and Spencer Mitchell, Colusa, Calif./Dakota Kirchenschlager, Stephenville, Texas, NT. Average leaders: 1. Chad Masters, Cedar Hill, Tenn./Clay O’Brien Cooper, Gardnerville, Nev., 55.4 seconds on eight head; 2. Keven Daniel, Franklin, Tenn./Chase Tryan, Helena, Mont., 59.1; 3.Brock Hanson, Casa Grande, Ariz./Ryan Motes, Weatherford, Texas, 63.8; 4. Derrick Begay, Seba Dalkai, Ariz./Cesar  de la Cruz, Tucson, Ariz., 40.5 on seven head; 5. Colby Lovell, Madisonville, Texas/Russell Cardoza, Terrebonne, Ore., 52.5; 6. Erich Rogers, Round Rock, Ariz./Kory Koontz, Sudan, Texas, 31.9 on six head; 7. Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas/Patrick Smith, Lipan, Texas, 45.2; 8. Kaleb Driggers, Albany, Ga./Jade Corkill, Fallon, Nev., 22.5 on five head; 9. Clay Tryan, Billings, Mont./Travis Graves, Jay, Okla., 37.9; 10. Turtle Powell, Stephenville, Texas/Dugan Kelly, Paso Robles, Calif., 46.3; 11. Dustin Bird, Cut Bank, Mont./Paul Eaves, Millsap, Texas, 46.9; 12. Spencer Mitchell, Colusa, Calif./Dakota Kirchenschlager, Stephenville, Texas, 23.0 on four head; 13. Charly Crawford, Prineville, Ore./Jim Ross Cooper, Monument, N.M., 29.7; 14. Travis Tryan, Billings, Mont./Jake Long, Coffeyville, Kan., 49.3; 15. Luke Brown, Stephenville, Texas/Martin Lucero, Stephenville, Texas, 31.4 on three head.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Tyrell Smith, Cascade, Mont., 84 points on Carr Pro Rodeo’s Cool Runnings, $18,257; 2. Cody Wright, Milford, Utah, 82.5, $14,429; 3. (tie) Cody DeMoss, Heflin, La.; Cody Taton, Corona, N.M., and Jake Wright, Milford, Utah, 81.5, $7,754 each; 6. Isaac Diaz, Desdemona, Texas, 79.5, $2,945; 7. Cole Elshere, Faith, S.D., 78.5; 8. Sterling Crawley, College Station, Texas, 77.5; 9. Cort Scheer, Elsmere, Neb., 75.5; 10. Bradley Harter, Weatherford, Texas, 71.5; 11. Chad Ferley, Oelrichs, S.D., 71; 12. Taos Muncy, Corona, N.M., 70.5; 13. Wade Sundell, Boxholm, Iowa, 67.5; 14. Jacobs Crawley, College Station, Texas, 62.5; 15. Jesse Wright, Milford, Utah, NS. Average leaders: 1. Cody DeMoss, Heflin, La., 629.5 points on eight head; 2. Cody Wright, Milford, Utah, 577.5 on seven head; 3. Wade Sundell, Boxholm, Iowa, 554.5; 4. Cort Scheer, Elsmere, Neb., 536.5; 5. Cody Taton, Corona, N.M., 476.5 on six head; 6. Cole Elshere, Faith, S.D., 470; 7. Jacobs Crawley, College Station, Texas, 439; 8. Jesse Wright, Milford, Utah, 427 on five head; 9. Jake Wright, Milford, Utah, 413; 10. Taos Muncy, Corona, N.M., 399.5; 11. Tyrell Smith, Cascade, Mont., 397.5; 12. Isaac Diaz, Davie, Fla., 395.5; 13. Bradley Harter, Weatherford, Texas, 390; 14. Chad Ferley, Oelrichs, S.D., 379.5; 15. Sterling Crawley, College Station, Texas, 319 on four head.

Tie-down roping: 1. Bradley Bynum, Sterling City, Texas, 7.2 seconds, $18,257; 2. Matt Shiozawa, Chubbuck, Idaho, 7.3, $14,429; 3. Clint Robinson, Spanish Fork, Utah, 7.9, $10,895; 4. Tuf Cooper, Decatur, Texas, 8.2, $7,656; 5. Justin Maass, Giddings, Texas, 8.4, $4,712; 6. Shane Hanchey, Sulphur, La., 8.8, $2,945; 7. Adam Gray, Seymour, Texas, 9.5; 8. Ryan Jarrett, Comanche, Okla., 9.7; 9. Houston Hutto, Tomball, Texas, 11.7; 10. Cody Ohl, Hico, Texas, 13.3; 11. Cory Solomon, Prairie View, Texas, 18.5; 12. Fred Whitfield, Hockley, Texas, 21.8; 13. (tie) Hunter Herrin, Apache, Okla.; Monty Lewis, Hereford, Texas, and Clif Cooper, Decatur, Texas, NT. Average leaders: 1. Adam Gray, Seymour, Texas, 70.6 seconds on eight head; 2. Justin Maass, Giddings, Texas, 70.7; 3. Tuf Cooper, Decatur, Texas, 75.5; 4. Shane Hanchey, Sulphur, La., 77.2; 5. Ryan Jarrett, Comanche, Okla., 77.5; 6. Cody Ohl, Hico, Texas, 79.1; 7. Bradley Bynum, Sterling City, Texas, 83.5; 8. Cory Solomon, Prairie View, Texas, 84.8; 9. Fred Whitfield, Hockley, Texas, 88.4; 10. Clint Robinson, Spanish Fork, Utah, 58.3 on seven head; 11. Monty Lewis, Hereford, Texas, 59.4; 12. Houston Hutto, Tomball, Texas, 87.5; 13. Matt Shiozawa, Chubbuck, Idaho, 56.8 on six head; 14. Clif Cooper, Decatur, Texas, 60.6; 15. Hunter Herrin, Apache, Okla., 53.0 on four head.

Barrel racing: 1. Lindsay Sears, Nanton, Alberta, 13.69 seconds, $18,257; 2. Carlee Pierce, Stephenville, Texas, 13.76, $14,429; 3. Kelli Tolbert, Hooper, Utah, 13.83, $10,895; 4. Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, S.D., 13.86, $7,656; 5. Trula Churchill, Valentine, Neb., 13.91, $4,712; 6. Brittany Pozzi, Victoria, Texas, 13.92, $2,945; 7. Kaley Bass, Kissimmee, Fla., 14.02; 8. Brenda Mays, Terrebonne, Ore., 14.09; 9. Mary Walker, Ennis, Texas, 14.10; 10. Sherry Cervi, Marana, Ariz., 14.19; 11. Nikki Steffes, Vale, S.D., 14.29; 12. Christina Richman, Glendora, Calif., 14.52; 13. Lee Ann Rust, Stephenville, Texas, 18.96; 14. Benette Barrington-Little, Ardmore, Okla., 19.13; 15. Christy Loflin, Franktown, Colo., 19.17. Average leaders: 1. Kaley Bass, Kissimmee, Fla., 111.75 seconds on eight runs; 2. Brenda Mays, Terrebonne, Ore., 113.43; 3. Mary Walker, Ennis, Texas, 115.61; 4. Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, S.D., 116.54; 5. Nikki Steffes, Vale, S.D., 118.72; 6. Trula Churchill, Valentine, Neb., 121.76; 7. Lindsay Sears, Nanton, Alberta, 125.99; 8. Christina Richman, Glendora, Calif., 127.12; 9. Benette Barrington-Little, Ardmore, Okla., 127.22; 10. Christy Loflin, Franktown, Colo., 129.94; 11. Kelli Tolbert, Hooper, Utah, 130.80; 12. Brittany Pozzi, Victoria, Texas, 132.08; 13. Lee Ann Rust, Stephenville, Texas, 136.84; 14. Carlee Pierce, Stephenville, Texas, 146.45; 15. Sherry Cervi, Marana, Ariz., 97.84 on seven head.

Bull riding: 1. Shane Proctor, Grand Coulee, Wash., 83.5 points on Lancaster & Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Cowboy Coffee, $18,257; 2. Clayton Savage, Casper, Wyo., 82.5, $14,429; 3. (tie) J.W. Harris, Mullin, Texas; Cody Teel, Kountze, Texas; Trey Benton III, Rock Island, Texas; Ardie Maier, Timber Lake, S.D.; Trevor Kastner, Ardmore, Okla.; Seth Glause, Cheyenne, Wyo.;  Tate Stratton, Kellyville, Okla.; Cody Samora, Cortez, Colo.; Beau Schroeder, China, Texas; Cody Whitney, Sayre, Okla.; Kanin Asay, Powell, Wyo.; Tag Elliott, Thatcher, Utah; Brett Stall, Detroit Lakes, Minn., NS.Average leaders: 1. Beau Schroeder, China, Texas, 343.5 points on four head; 2. Seth Glause, Cheyenne, Wyo., 336; 3. Clayton Savage, Casper, Wyo., 326; 4. Cody Teel, Kountze, Texas, 305.5; 5. J.W. Harris, Mullin, Texas, 261.0 on three head; 6. Trevor Kastner, Ardmore, Okla., 250; 7.Brett Stall, Detroit Lakes, Minn., 249.5; 8. Shane Proctor, Grand Coulee, Wash., 244; 9. Cody Whitney, Sayre, Okla., 175.5 on two head; 10. Tag Elliott, Thatcher, Utah, 168; 11. Kanin Asay, Powell, Wyo., 164.5; 12. Trey Benton III, Rock Island, Texas, 156; 13. Ardie Maier, Timber Lake, S.D., 76 on one head; 14. (tie) Tate Stratton, Kellyville, Okla., and Cody Samora, Cortez, Colo., NS.

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