SIKESTON, Mo. — During the Aug. 1-3 weekend, bull rider J.W. Harris retook the world standings lead for the first time in five months. Last weekend, he wasted little time putting some distance between himself and the rest of the field.
Harris is on the type of roll that only he seems to be able to get on every year. The four-time and defending world champion entered three rodeos this weekend. He won them all.
The best of his three winning rides came at the Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo in Sikeston, where he tied the best bull ride of 2014 with a 93-point trip on Rafter H Rodeo Livestock’s Stiff Drink, earning $4,780.
"I had seen that bull for a long time, and always wanted to get on him," Harris said of Stiff Drink. "He’s one of the best bulls going right now, and he’s dang sure one of the best Rafter H has."
The ride tied Clayton Foltyn’s 93 at the San Antonio (Texas) Stock Show & Rodeo, which was later equaled by Scottie Knapp at the Oakley City (Utah) Independence Day Rodeo and Chandler Bownds at last week’s Douglas County Fair Division 2 Xtreme Bulls in Castle Rock, Colo.
"That ride felt like it could’ve been 100 (points)," Harris said. "He made me work my butt off to stay on him. He dropped each shoulder and got really fast and was doing everything he could to throw me off, and luckily I was able to stay in the middle."
Harris, who regained the world standings lead from rookie Sage Kimzey on Aug. 4 - the first time he was the world leader since Feb. 24 - wasn’t done by any means.
He also won the title in Lovington, N.M., at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, which, like Sikeston, is a silver rodeo on the Wrangler Million Dollar Tour, presented by Justin Boots.
Harris rode for 91 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Thunder Cat in Lovington, earning $5,076.
"Those two rides were completely different," Harris said of Sikeston and Lovington. "Both of the bulls bucked hard, but the one in Sikeston was a lot of speed and change of direction and kick. The one in Lovington had all the timing in the world. They were both great bulls."
As if winning those two big rodeos wasn’t enough, Harris also won the Crossett (Ark.) Riding Club PRCA Rodeo with an 84-point effort on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Bowser, earning another $3,158.
"I wish it was like this every weekend," Harris said. "Tonight, somebody told me that I should share some of the wins, and I told them that I don’t like to share, and I don’t play well with others."
Harris is known for his late-season pushes in which he racks up a bunch of rodeo titles and checks in a short amount of time. This year, he’s not waiting until the last month of the season.
"I’d like to say I’m starting my winning roll early this year, instead of waiting like last year," he said. "But you don’t sit there and reflect on the wins too much. The bulls don’t read the results page and know how well you’re riding, and they don’t care, so you always have to be ready for the next one."
With his two rides of 90-plus points, Harris now has 89 such rides in his career, which is a record for any bull rider in rodeo history.
Other winners at the $173,825 rodeo were all-around champion Kyle Whitaker ($3,469 in tie-down roping and steer wrestling), bareback rider Orin Larsen (90 points on Pickett Rodeo’s Scarlett Fever), steer wrestler Whitaker (8.7 seconds on two head), team ropers Coleman Proctor and Jake Long (9.9 seconds on two head), saddle bronc rider Bradley Harter (85 points on Rafter H Rodeo Livestock’s Spade), tie-down roper Sterling Smith (17.0 seconds on two head) and barrel racer Sabra O’Quinn (16.38 seconds).
Rinehart scrambles from under black cloud
HERMISTON, Ore. — This season has seemingly been nothing but bad luck for veteran steer wrestler Jake Rinehart.
The Highmore, S.D., cowboy has been battling all season to position himself to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Rinehart, who was 30th in the Aug. 4 Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings, received a much-needed jolt to his season when he won the average with a 12.6-second time on two head at the Farm-City Pro Rodeo on Aug. 9.
"It’s always great to win, there’s no doubt about that," said Rinehart, 32. "I’ve just had bad luck, that’s the only thing I can say. I’ve had some bad luck for sure, but I just try to treat everything like a new day. The past is the past."
Rinehart pocketed $3,587 in winnings — $2,324 for capturing the average, and $1,263 for sharing fourth with Beau Clark in the second round with a 5.2-second run.
"I had some good luck and I was able to draw good," said Rinehart about the key to his Hermiston success. "I’ve been lucky at Hermiston before, and it was great to do it again."
Rinehart also won in Hermiston two years ago, and rode his 9-year-old horse Rio for his latest Farm-City Rodeo victory.
Rinehart, who joined the PRCA in 2005, has qualified for the Wrangler NFR three times - in 2007, 2009 and 2011. He placed 17th in the final Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings a year ago.
"I just have to keep going and hopefully everything will turn around," said the 6-foot-7, 285-pound Rinehart. "I’m not going to beat myself up or my horses, but I’m going to try like hell to see what I can do (to make the Wrangler NFR). I really believe the experience I have will definitely help me."
Other winners at the $206,032 rodeo were all-around cowboy Rhen Richard ($791 in tie-down roping and team roping), bareback rider Steven Peebles (87 points on Calgary Stampede’s Special Delivery), team ropers Charly Crawford and Shay Carroll (9.4 seconds on two head), saddle bronc riders Samuel Kelts (83 points on Kesler Rodeo’s No. 828) and Rusty Wright (83 points on Calgary Stampede’s Tokyo Bubbles), tie-down roper Clint Robinson (16.9 seconds on two head), bull rider Steve Woolsey (88 points on Corey & Lange Rodeo’s Wild Eyes) and barrel racer Carlee Pierce (34.05 seconds on two runs).
Vezain ends victory drought in Lovington
LOVINGTON, N.M. — Winning rodeos is something bareback rider J.R. Vezain expects to do.
The Cowley, Wyo., cowboy, however, spent the last several months in an unfamiliar place as he had won just one rodeo since March, until claiming two in a five-day span.
Vezain broke his victory drought by winning the Larimer County Fair & Rodeo in Loveland, Colo., on Aug. 5, then rode for 89 points on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Scarlet’s Web Aug. 9 at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.
"That was a great horse I knew I had coming in here," Vezain said of his win in Lovington. "To cap off the weekend like that was really awesome."
The win couldn’t have come at a better time for Vezain. He was 15th in the Aug. 4 Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings, on the bubble for a berth in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He moved to 12th in the Aug. 11 standings.
"This was a huge win," said Vezain, who pocketed $4,450 for the victory. "It’s a blessing to have it come at this time."
Vezain, who was the 2011 PRCA Resistol Bareback Riding Rookie of the Year, had been on Scarlet’s Web as a rookie at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, scoring 85 points in the short round.
"(Saturday night) was so much better," said Vezain, 22. "I switched the style of my rigging last week, and it’s been going really good since then. This is a good time to get hot and hopefully it will keep rolling, God willing. I just want to keep on keeping on."
In addition to winning in Lovington, Vezain earned $3,444 for sharing second place at the Farm-City ProRodeo in Hermiston, Ore., another $821 for finishing in a tie for fourth at the Cache County Fair and Rodeo (Aug. 7-9) in Logan, Utah, and $473 for placing in a three-way tie for fifth at the Summit County Fair & Rodeo (Aug. 8-9) in Coalville, Utah.
Vezain admitted staying upbeat when he couldn’t win a rodeo was difficult.
"It’s tough," Vezain said about trying to keep his confidence up. "My whole career I’ve never been in one (a slump). It tested me, and your traveling partners are a big key. They help you stay positive and you try to stay positive and think the best. You don’t want to ever start second-guessing yourself. You just have to get back to the basics and work a little bit harder at it."
Vezain’s traveling partners are Caleb Bennett, Clint Laye and R.C. Landingham.
The past two years, Vezain has qualified for the Wrangler NFR. He finished fourth in the world in 2012, and seventh last year.
"I’m shooting for a gold buckle," Vezain said. "Aim for the stars and if you land in the clouds you are still doing all right."
Other winners at the $239,043 rodeo were all-around cowboy Tuf Cooper, ($7,421 in steer roping and tie-down roping), steer wrestler Ty Erickson (8.1 seconds on two head), tie-down roper Tuf Cooper (16.2 seconds on two head), saddle bronc rider Cody DeMoss, (86 points on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Bully Dog), team ropers Chase Wiley and Ace Pearce (9.7 seconds on two head), steer roper Trevor Brazile (43.3 seconds on three head), barrel racer Rebecca Hughes (17.24 seconds on one run) and bull rider J.W. Harris (91 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Thunder Cat).
Weekend highlights, Aug. 4-10
Since 2003, saddle bronc rider Cody DeMoss has made the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo nine times. At no point has he missed the WNFR for two straight years, and he’s hoping to continue that trend. DeMoss, who missed out on Las Vegas in 2013, entered the weekend 21st in the Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings. This weekend, he took a big step toward getting back to Las Vegas. DeMoss won the Lea County Fair & PRCA Rodeo in Lovington, N.M., with an 86-point ride on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Bully Dog, earning $4,653, and edging his brother, Heith, who was second with 84 points. Cody would also place third at the other two big rodeos of the weekend, the Farm-City ProRodeo in Hermiston, Ore., and the Sikeston (Mo.) Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo. In all, DeMoss earned $9,039 and moved up four spots to 17th in the world standings.
Another busy saddle bronc rider was Tyler Corrington, who won two titles over the weekend. The Hastings, Minn., cowboy won the Missoula (Mont.) Stampede with a 90-point trip on Sankey Rodeo’s Crow Nation, which is tied for the second-highest saddle bronc ride of the year, and is only the ninth ride of the season of 90 or more points. He collected $2,222 in Missoula, and also took the title at the Dawson Creek (British Columbia) Stampede with an 86-point ride on Kesler Rodeo Company’s Paper Clip, earning $2,854. Corrington placed second at the Omak (Wash.) Stampede, which was good for another $2,780. In total, Corrington won $7,856 and moved from seventh to third in the Aug. 11 world standings.
Trevor Brazile collected checks at five different rodeos over the weekend, and made a total of $15,099 in the process, as he continues a dominating 2014 season in the all-around standings. The 19-time world champ made $6,317 at the Lawton (Okla.) Rangers Rodeo after winning the tie-down roping title with a time of 7.6 seconds, and finishing fourth in team roping with partner Travis Graves with a time of 5.1 seconds. Along with the Lawton all-around title, Brazile picked up another win in Missoula, taking all-around honors on the strength of finishing third in tie-down roping. In Lovington, Brazile turned his sights to steer roping, winning the average with a time of 43.3 seconds on three head, and also winning the second round with a time of 11.3 seconds. He earned a total of $4,672 in Lovington, all in steer roping. Brazile tied for second in the second round of tie-down roping in Sikeston, good for another $1,464, and then won the event at the Kimball (Neb.) County Fair & Rodeo, earning $733. Brazile’s lead in the all-around world standings increased to $72,673 over Tuf Cooper. He remained third among team roping headers, moved from fifth to third in tie-down roping and remained second in the steer roping standings.
Tie-down roper Cody Ohl didn’t win any rodeos this weekend, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a successful few days for him. The 19-time WNFR qualifier finished second in Lawton, Okla., with a time of 7.8 seconds, earning $3,548. He then finished third in the average in both Lovington, N.M., and Hermiston, Ore., while also placing in the first round at both rodeos. Ohl earned a total of $10,254, and moved from 27th to 20th in the Aug. 11 world standings.
Trell Etbauer, who is chasing his second straight and fifth overall Linderman Award, took a big step toward qualifying for the award this weekend when he earned $902 for winning the saddle bronc riding title in Kimball, Neb. To qualify for the award, a cowboy must win at least $1,000 in three different events, and those events must include at least one roughstock and one timed event. Joe Frost currently leads the Linderman standings with $52,811, which is comprised of $48,810 in bull riding, $2,908 in tie-down roping and $1,092 in steer wrestling.
Things that just seem right: A couple of guys named Ty (Scales and Nelson) tying for first place in the bareback riding at the Missoula (Mont.) Stampede and Jake Newton winning the all-around in Newtown, S.D.