Wrangler National Finals Rodeo: Round 6

AQHA members keep their ProRodeo world championship hopes alive December 9 in Las Vegas.

Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association

AQHA member Matt Shiozawa is chasing an elusive gold buckle, and the veteran tie-down roper put himself in great position to get it done Tuesday night at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

The Chubbuck, Idaho, cowboy broke the Round 6 WNFR record with a run of 6.9 seconds before a sellout crowd of 17,495 at the Thomas & Mack Center, and it was good enough to share the round win with 20-year-old AQHA member Marty Yates, who had already won two rounds in his first Wrangler NFR.

Shiozawa, who is competing in his seventh Finals, took over the average lead and sits second in the Windham Weaponry High Performance Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association World Standings with $148,551. He trails world leader Tuf Cooper, an AQHA member and a two-time PRCA world champion, by $16,101.

The 10-day rodeo concludes Saturday.

“We were at halftime (of the WNFR), and it was time to score,” said Shiozawa, 34. “I came in behind in the average and we still have four more to run, but I have to win money on the ones I’m supposed to, and get by on the ones that I’m supposed to get by on. It’s that simple.”

Shiozawa and Yates each earned $17,010 by splitting the win. They each broke Cody Ohl’s Round 6 record of 7.1 seconds, set in 2003.

Yates is third in the world standings, but sits 12th in the average because he’s had two no-times.

Cooper is second in the average with a time of 57.3 seconds on six head. Shiozawa has a time of 54.8 seconds on six head.

“A guy has to keep going at ’em,” Shiozawa said. “There’s still a lot of game left in this deal and it’s definitely not any time to coast. The average will play a factor, but you can’t worry about that until it’s over.”

The average winner will add $48,732 to his bank account, and that could determine who wins the gold buckle.

Yates said he’s determined to stay aggressive, and would even if he was fighting for the average title.

“I kind of have a run-and-gun style, and I’ve been really running at the barrier every night and getting a good start,” he said. “The ones I have won on, I’ve been really aggressive. The two I missed, I backed off a little bit. I just have to stay focused and stay aggressive.”

Steer Wrestling

Steer wrestler Luke Branquinho had won a check in each round of this year’s Finals until Round 6; the AQHA member is within $25,722 of reaching $1 million in WNFR competition.

K.C. Jones broke through to earn his first check of this Finals in a big way, when he took the steer wrestling round buckle in 3.5 seconds. Jones, an eight-time qualifier for the WNFR, improved to second in the average with a time of 28.3 seconds on six head. Jones is fifth in the world with $101,058.

Branquinho is first in the world standings with $128,976 and leads the average with 24.6 seconds on six head.

“It’s anybody’s game right now,” Jones said. “There are a lot of guys who could still walk out of here with that gold buckle. I’m just lucky I’ve got all (my steers) down and I won a little money tonight. I’m also glad I have four more steers.”

Jones changed horses, after riding "Tebow" for five rounds.

“We were making good runs, but we just haven’t been able to light up the leaderboard,” Jones said. “He came up with a sore suspensory (ligament), so we were going to give him some time off. I got on the black mare of Judd Little’s called 'Smoker' I rode here the last two years. She’s really electric and I got a great start.

“I’m just throwing all caution to the wind, and I’m just going to try and blow that barrier out every night and see how much we can win.”

Smoker, an American Quarter Horse registered as Little Extra Credit, is a 2005 black mare by Cash Not Credit and out of Jets Misty Moon by Jet Of Honor. She is owned and bred by Jud Little, an AQHA 10-year breeder from Ardmore, Oklahoma.

Team Roping

Team ropers Aaron Tsinigine and Clay O’Brien Cooper won their first check of the WNFR with a run of 4.0 seconds. The 28-year-old Tsinigine is competing in his first Finals while Cooper, 53, is roping at his 28th. The legendary Cooper is a seven-time world champion (1985-89, 1992, 1994) and ProRodeo Hall of Famer.

“My confidence is higher roping with the 'Champ,' ” Tsinigine said of Cooper. “He knows everything. And if he doesn’t know something, he knows how to figure it out. I don’t want to get too excited. I’ve seen guys win go-rounds and not do good the next night. I like to stick to my game plan – get out of the barrier and catch every steer.”

Cooper, whose last round win at the WNFR was in 2006 in Round 5 when he was roping with Speed Williams, praised his heading partner and said the Thomas & Mack Center is ideal for Tsinigine.

“Aaron’s been roping great and turning steers fast all week,” Cooper said. “This short setup is right up his alley, because it’s a fast track. Aaron has a hair-trigger. He can take one swing and just wham ’em right there. It happens so fast, and I’ve felt like I was behind all week because I wasn’t riding my position so great and was riding in too early. I needed to be more patient. I was finally able to get it right tonight. I couldn’t have asked for a more clear shot.” 

Barrel Racing

AQHA member Britany Diaz, aboard her American Quarter Horse Dasher Dude ("Rootie"), won the barrel racing with a time of 13.89 seconds, and sits third in the average and fifth in the world. AQHA member Fallon Taylor was fourth in 14.08 seconds and leads the world with $203,803 – which is $25,602 ahead of AQHA member Kaley Bass.

“I am so excited,” said Diaz, who earned her first round win in her second WNFR. “Rootie has been really consistent. It’s been a great ride thus far.”

Rootie, a 2000 black mare by Texas High Dasher and out of April Dell Dude by Poco Dell Dude, was bred by Leslie and Joanne Roth of Glen Ullin, North Dakota. 

RAM Top Gun Award

Bull rider Sage Kimzey leads the RAM Top Gun Award standings with $79,381. Barrel racer and AQHA member Fallon Taylor is second with $72,332 and steer wrestler Luke Branquinho, an AQHA member, is third with $62,984.

Visit www.prorodeo.com for full results from Round 6, plus coverage of the roughstock events.

The 56th annual Wrangler NFR continues Wednesday with the seventh 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