Wrangler National Finals Rodeo: Round 9

These AQHA members are poised for Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world championships heading into the final round.

Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association

Moving into position to add to their gold buckle count during Round 9 at the 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo were AQHA members Luke Branquinho (steer wrestling), Tuf Cooper (tie-down roping, and Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill (team roping). Branquinho and the team ropers should clinch world championships if they post a time in Round 10.

Cooper has a more precarious lead over AQHA member Matt Shiozawa, who could prevail if he wins Round 10 and Cooper fails to win a check. That would give Shiozawa the average title – he’s currently first in the average and Cooper is second – and push Cooper down to second in the world.

Tie-Down Roping

AQHA members Trevor Brazile and Cade Swor split the tie-down roping in Round 9, as each had a time of 7.6 seconds. Brazile sits third in the world standings – he’s $22,224 behind Cooper – and is third in the average race while Swor is fifth in both standings.

“I didn’t do well enough in this event in the regular season to have a great shot at the title, so I’ve been playing catch-up all week,” Brazile said. “I just have to stay with it and decide if I’m going to gamble that (third place in the) average to try and win a world championship.”

Swor was thrilled to take another victory lap, just as he did after winning Round 2.

“I’m fired up,” Swor said. “I had a good calf tonight, and I just got lucky, I guess. It feels really good to win again.”

Team Roping

AQHA members Nick Sartain and Rich Skelton won the team roping event with a time of 3.9 seconds to turn around what’s been a disappointing Finals. Despite the win, they sit 15th in the average race.

“We’ve had more trouble than a man on the wrong train this week,” Sartain said. “This run will help us salvage some money out of here. This is a lot more fun than losing. I’ve been getting tired of smiling about that all week.”

Skelton, who is competing at his 21st WNFR, extended his team roping record for WNFR round wins to 35.

“This rodeo is always exciting,” said Skelton, 48. “If you don’t get excited to win a round here, you need to quit. This win is especially exciting, because we’ve been getting our butts handed to us. And most of it’s been self-inflicted.”

Still, ProRodeo Hall of Famer Joe Beaver, one of the television analysts for the WNFR, picked Sartain and Skelton to win Round 9 before the perf.

“Joe and I have been tight a long time,” Skelton said. “I guess he can see into the future.”

Sartain said the partners plan to stay together for the 2015 season.

“Rich and I have become good friends, and we have a good time traveling together,” he said. “This week hasn’t been great for us, but we’re already talking about reloading and going again next year. Rich is such a legend in this sport. He’s always prepared, he always does his job and nothing bothers him.”

Brazile, who already won the steer roping and all-around gold buckles in 2014, was in close contention for the team roping title until he missed in Round 9. Brazile and his partner, Travis Graves, slipped two spots to fifth in the average but they could still surpass world standings leader Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill, who took sixth in the round to increase their season earnings to $163,357. Brazile and Graves each have $159,632, although Tryan and Corkill also lead the race for the average title.

If Tryan and Corkill record a time in Round 10, they’re likely to repeat as world champs. For Corkill, it would be three consecutive gold buckles.

Steer Wrestling

AQHA member Dakota Eldridge won the steer wrestling with a time of 3.3 seconds, just .1 shy of the Round 9 record set by three cowboys, most recently by Luke Branquinho in 2007. Eldridge tied Curtis Cassidy for the Round 7 win.

“I would like to have one more win (Saturday night),” Eldridge said. “I’m just going to go at it again. If you try to back off, then stuff starts going south. You try to nail the barrier every time and have a good steer and just go have fun.”

Eldridge, 23, of Elko, Nevada, moved up to sixth in the world standings with $105,464 and is third in the average with a time of 50.7 seconds on nine head.

“You can’t give up until after Round 10,” Eldridge said, “so you might as well go at ’em because it’s almost $20,000 a round. That’s a lot of money, and life-changing money. I can still get out of here with average money and another round, and get out of here with $80,000. That would be a great week.”

Branquinho is on the verge of his fifth gold buckle as he sits first in the world standings with $153,648 and is also first in the average with a time of 33.6 seconds on nine head.

Barrel Racing

AQHA member Trula Churchill won the barrel racing with a time of 13.67 seconds. This is her third WNFR and her first go-round win.

“I set some goals, and getting a go-round win was one of them,” Churchill said. “Of course, I tipped some barrels this week, which has cost me some money, but I got around them tonight for the win, so one goal is down.”

Churchill was running her 2005 blue roan gelding A Streak Of Rita, aka "Worm." Bred by Sam Willis of Culver, Oregon, Worm is by A Streak Of Fling and out of Jetta Rita by Very Sharp (TB).

AQHA members Fallon Taylor and Lisa Lockhart are battling to the finish for the barrel racing gold buckle. Taylor has a lead of $8,168 in the world standings, but sits second in the average while Lockhart is first.

Visit www.prorodeo.com for full results from Round 9 and the crowning of the 2014 world champions, plus coverage of the roughstock events.

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