Wrangler National Finals Rodeo: Round 5

Stock of AQHA Professional Horsemen Charlie Cole, Jason Martin and Tom and Leslie Lange strike it big December 8 in Las Vegas.

Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association

AQHA member Michele McLeod won the Round 5 barrel racing in 13.66 seconds, the fastest run at this year’s Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. She was riding Kellies Chick, aka "Skye," who replaced the horse she rode at the 2013 Finals, Slick By Design ("Slick"), who is injured. Both Skye and Slick are owned by AQHA Professional Horsemen Charlie Cole and Jason Martin of Pilot Point, Texas. Skye (2008 brown mare by Darkelly-The Skye Chick by Fiesta In The Skye, bred by Maurice Wilcox of Fielding, Utah,) finished third in senior barrel racing at this year's AQHA World Championship Show

This Round 5 score is McLeod’s first-ever WNFR round win.

“It is so exciting, because I always thought it would be with Slick,” she said of the 2012 AQHA junior barrel racing world champion, “but what’s meant to be is meant to be, and this is incredible, very incredible.

“I have a lot of confidence in Skye. I’ve won several things on her. Like at Nampa, (Idaho,) this year, she set the arena record. I mean, she can do it. Once I got Skye in the arena, she was great. Getting around the barrels you don’t have to do anything.”

Bull Riding

Bull rider Joe Frost had extra incentive to win Round 5 at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Monday. And he came through with flying colors on an emotional “Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night” at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Frost, 22, is a senior at Oklahoma Panhandle State University and wore a “Riding for Craig” patch on his shirt and vest to honor his college rodeo coach, NFR saddle bronc rider Craig Latham, who is in a long-running battle with cancer.

Frost called Latham “my hero,” and said, “I’ve called him and talked to him each night before I ride. Today, he called me at noon and told me that he was here in Las Vegas to watch me ride, and we had an extra ticket, so he sat with my parents (Shane and Lisa Frost). This one was for him. There was no way I was getting bucked off tonight.”

After his victory lap, Frost was emotional while being congratulated by friends.

“I shed a tear,” said the tough bull rider, who is also the 2014 Linderman Award winner, which goes to the cowboy who wins the most money in at least three events, and a minimum of $1,000 in each, including at least one event at both ends of the arena.

Joe Frost rides Corey & Lange Rodeo's Bottle Rocket to the Round 5 win in bull riding at the 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, ProRodeo photo
Bottle Rocket, owned by AQHA Professional Horsemen Tom and Leslie Lange and Mike Corey's Corey & Lange Rodeo.

Frost rode Corey & Lange Rodeo’s Bottle Rocket for 89 points to earn a check of $19,002. Corey & Lange Rodeo is owned by AQHA Professional Horsemen Tom and Leslie Lange of Greeley, Colorado, and Mike Corey. Corey & Lange Rodeo have two other bulls representing their company at this year's WNFR: Little Buddy and Wild Eyes.

“I was very focused,” Frost said. “(Bottle Rocket) bucked me off in about one-and-a-half seconds at the short round in Ellensburg, (Washington,) this year, but I knew I had him tonight. I knew I had the best bull out tonight, so as long as I got my job done, I knew that I would have a good ride and let the judges sort it out.

“My main goal coming into this week was to win a world title, and that’s still my goal. Bull No. 6 tomorrow night is the only thing I’m worried about right now.”

Frost also won Round 1, in an impressive performance at his first Wrangler NFR. He sits fourth in the Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings with $123,500, and is second in the WNFR average race with 329 points on four bulls.

WNFR rookie Sage Kimzey leads the world with $207,528 and tops the average with 339 points on four head.

“Tonight it especially was a big win because Sage Kimzey has won two rounds already,” Frost said, “so it was my turn to get my second tonight.”

Kimzey broke Steve Woolsey’s 2005 rookie earnings record for a full season in any event ($197,646), and Woolsey’s overall rookie earnings record ($202,128).

Kimzey took second in the round and earned $15,018.

Steer Wrestling

Steer wrestler Curtis Cassidy of Donalda, Alberta, became the first Canadian to win a round at the WNFR since barrel racer Lindsay Sears in Round 8 in 2012.

The last bulldogger to win a round at the Finals? It was none other than Cassidy, who won Round 10 in 2010.

Cassidy’s time of 3.3 seconds was a personal best at the WNFR. AQHA member Trevor Knowles, who led the world coming into the 10-day Finals and now sits third in the standings, took second in 3.9 seconds.

Nick Guy was third and is second in the average behind four-time world champion and AQHA member Luke Branquinho, who also leads the world. Branquinho tied for third in the round with Nick Guy, who is second in the average.

Cassidy, who is sixth in the world standings with $84,421, didn’t think he had a chance to win the round. He thought for certain he’d broken the barrier and incurred a 10-second penalty.

“I didn’t think I broke the barrier, I thought I broke the barrier for sure,” he said. “When I was catching the steer, I remember thinking I broke the barrier and I’m catching this good sucker right here. I threw him down and I got back up slow, and I looked at the barrier and I figured the judges would be there for sure picking the pigtail up. The pigtail was still in the barrier and I couldn’t believe it. It was awesome. Then, to be 3.3 makes it even sweeter.”

Cassidy had quite a turnaround from his Round-4 performance, when he stopped the clock in 17.7 seconds.

“It’s rodeo, that’s exactly what it is all about,” he said. “One day it’s the depths of despair and another day you’re on top of the mountain. Rodeo is humbling. You can’t ever get too cocky, because it’s diamonds or dust, and it’s like that every day everywhere you go.”

Tie-Down Roping

Adam Gray, round 5 tie-down roping winner. Tie-down roper Adam Gray can relate to that sentiment, as he didn’t win a check in the first four rounds but bounced back to claim victory in Round 5 with a time of 7.3 seconds.

“The times were slower because these calves were a whole lot bigger and stronger,” Gray said. “The only way it changed anything in my thought process was I didn’t feel like I needed to put a wrap and a hooey on him, and take the chance of him getting up. I planned on putting two wraps on because they were quite a bit stronger and bigger.”

Gray is also going for broke in the final half of the world’s richest rodeo.

“I hadn’t won anything this week and I’m dang sure going at first or second every night,” Gray said. “I have nothing to lose.”

World standings leader and AQHA member Tuf Cooper took fifth in the round and leads the average with a time of 41.6 seconds on five head.

Team Roping

Longtime friends Coleman Proctor and Jake Long won the team roping with a time of 4.1 seconds.

“Jake’s made it here three times before,” Proctor said. “I was his biggest fan and talked to him every night. But I was home watching it on the couch, because I didn’t want to come until I made it. Jake’s like my brother; he’s family. We’ve been roping together since our diaper days, when he was 3 and I was 2. To win my first go-round here with him is a dream come true.”

Long said this trip to the Finals is special to him.

“I’ve had the privilege of experiencing this rodeo three other times, but to get to experience this with a guy who’s basically my brother and finally live it out is beyond words, really.”

Long praised Proctor for his Round-5 handle.

“Coleman did a great job making that steer easier for me to heel by really softening him up in the turn,” he said. “I told myself I was going to be more aggressive in my approach tonight. I decided to turn it up a notch, and it worked out really well.”

Proctor returned the respect.

“I have the best heeler in the world behind me – Jake’s one of the best heelers ever in the Thomas & Mack – so all I have to do is do my job and get out of his way,” Proctor said. 

“I came here wanting to try to beat Jake Barnes and Clay O’Brien Cooper’s average record on 10 steers. Then I missed our first steer and took care of that. I told Jake I used our mulligan, so now he’s going to have to be perfect. He’s doing a great job of that.”

RAM Top Gun Award

Bull rider Kimzey and barrel racer Fallon Taylor, who won Rounds 1 and 4, share the lead in the RAM Top Gun Award standings with $64,363. Branquinho is third with $62,984.

Visit www.prorodeo.com for full results from Round 5, plus coverage of the roughstock events.

The 56th annual Wrangler NFR continues Tuesday with the sixth 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) with hosts Jeff Medders and Butch Knowles.

WNFR Coverage on www.aqha.com/showing

  • Round 10 – Competing in timed events at the 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, AQHA members claim world championships in Las Vegas.
  • Round 9 – These AQHA members are poised for Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world championships heading into the final round.
  • Round 8 – Winning both tie-down and team roping, AQHA member Trevor Brazile, the King of the Cowboys, reigns yet again.
  • Round 7 – AQHA members Cody Ohl and Tuf Cooper share the Round 7 tie-down roping title in Las Vegas.
  • Round 6 – AQHA members keep their ProRodeo world championship hopes alive December 9 in Las Vegas.
  • Round 5 – Stock of AQHA Professional Horsemen Charlie Cole, Jason Martin and Tom and Leslie Lange strike it big December 8 in Las Vegas.
  • Round 4 – AQHA members, including Fallon Taylor and "BabyFlo," showed their mettle December 7 at rodeo's Super Bowl in Las Vegas.
  • Round 3 – AQHA member Trevor Brazile earns his 21st gold buckle December 6 in Las Vegas.
  • Round 2 – AQHA members Turtle Powell and Dakota Kirchenschlager set a team-roping record for the round December 5 in Las Vegas.
  • Round 1 – American Quarter Horses take their riders to the top of Round 1 of rodeo's Super Bowl December 4 in Las Vegas.
  • 2014 AQHA-PRCA Horses of the Year