Kyle Lucas off to quick start at RAM NCFR
KISSIMMEE, Fla. – It’s been a slow progression, but tie-down roper Kyle Lucas is finally proving he has the talent to be one of the top ropers in the PRCA.
The Canadian cowboy representing the Columbia River Circuit had his skills on display in the first round of the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo Thursday night, clocking an 8.1-second run at Silver Spurs Arena.
“My rookie year was 2013, and I’ve finally started winning a bunch,” said Lucas, 26. “When they had the Canadian Circuit, I was in it, but with COVID going on and no rodeos in Canada, I went back to the Columbia River, and it’s pretty cool to get a start like this. I came here a couple months ago when they had the Silver Spurs Rodeo and got a feel for things, and it feels great to do well here at the RAM NCFR.”
Lucas is riding Cat, 14, whom he bought from National Finals Rodeo tie-down roper Randall Carlisle.
“I don’t know if I kind of lucked into getting the horse, but God had a plan for me,” Lucas said. “He (Cat) is one-of-a-kind for sure. I just stay out of his way, and he stays out of mine.”
Lucas’ plan for Friday is to enjoy some time at the beach – reluctantly.
“I’m not really a beach guy, I joke that I’m aquaphobic, but my girlfriend is going to drag me to the beach,” Lucas said. “I guess when you’re in Florida you have to do something like that, and I will be watching the rodeo on The Cowboy Channel and relaxing and be ready for three more rounds.”
Lucas is sixth in the PRCA | RAM World Standings with $21,611 and would love to make his Wrangler NFR debut in 2021.
Lucas is looking to add to that amount at the RAM NCFR and got off on the right foot – his time leads the way heading into the second half of the first round, which will conclude with Friday’s morning performance.
“Making the NFR has been a goal of mine ever since I’ve been watching it on TV,” Lucas said. “I’m just thankful some things are finally coming together. I’m hoping to keep pushing forward.”
The second round kicks off Friday night and concludes Saturday afternoon. The semifinals and finals are slated for 7:30 p.m. Saturday night.
Hatchel only bull rider to make whistle
Bull rider Nathan Hatchel knew what to expect when he drew The Cervi Brothers’ Ghost Buster.
The Oklahoma native, who lives in Castle Rock, Colo., won the second round of the RAM Mountain States Circuit Finals Rodeo with an 85.5-point ride on the bull in Loveland, Colo., Oct. 26.
And the bull didn’t disappoint when he took Hatchel on a second trip. Hatchel had an 81.5-point ride and was the only bull rider of the 12 competing to make the eight-second whistle.
“That was a real great bull, real honest, kind of knows what he’s going to do,” said Hatchel, 23. “I was tickled to death when I saw him on my draw today because I really needed that. I was super blessed.”
Hatchel, who is 11th in the world standings with $16,220, is battling through a right wrist injury and a tear in his left groin that he suffered last week in Lawton, Okla.
“I’m pretty beat up right now, and even on a ride like that, you can’t really enjoy it a whole lot,” he said. “I’m just thanking God every day that I’m living and blessed that he keeps me on and is keeping me going. I also truly appreciate Justin Sportsmedicine. They help us every day and never forget about us.”
Ryder Wright on point with 89.5
Ryder Wright is treating the RAM NCFR like he does every rodeo – like it’s just another rodeo.
That’s not a good thing for all the other saddle bronc riders.
The two-time world champion and reigning world champion leads the saddle bronc riding after posting an 89.5-point ride on Stace Smith Pro Rodeos’ Resistol’s Top Hat.
“I want to say that was my fifth time on that horse and he’s been good every time, so I was super happy to have him,” Wright said. “This is my fifth year to the RAM National Finals, and I’ve never won it. I sure would like to win it. I’m needing a new truck.”
When the two-time world champion (2017 and 2020) competes at the RAM NCFR he doesn’t change his approach.
“I try not to treat it any different,” said Wright, 23. “These are great bronc riders and I just go out there and do my job, let the cards fall where they may. I crave riding bucking horses. It’s in my blood. I could never imagine doing anything else. I want to do my best for as long as I can.”
Reiner rolls in debut
Bareback rider Cole Reiner posted an 87.5-point ride to lead the way into the second half of the performance.
The 22-year-old from Kaycee, Wyo., notched the ride aboard Cervi Championship Rodeo’s Hangover.
“I had that horse before (in Waco, Texas), and that horse was awesome tonight,” Reiner said. “I have a new rigging and you never know what to expect, and it worked great. You get a horse like that and the money that we are competing for, you have to capitalize.”
Reiner qualified for the NFR for the first time last year. He capitalized on that trip, earning $109,282 over the 10 days of the Finals. He finished fifth in the world with $154,325 and was the PRCA | Resistol Rookie of the Year.
Egusquiza, Nogueira team up in team roping
Team roping header Dustin Egusquiza and heeler Junior Nogueira don’t normally rope together. But the two are paired up after finishing atop the Texas Circuit in their respective events.
What’s more, Egusquiza is originally from Marianna, Fla., about five hours from Kissimmee.
“This is great to be back here, this is my home state,” Equsquiza said. “We are going to the beach (Friday) and it was great to get a good start in the first round. This is my first rodeo with Junior, and there weren’t a lot of nerves, I just had to do my job.”
Egusquiza’s normal roping partner is Travis Graves. Nogueira, the 2017 All-Around World Champion, ropes with Cody Snow.
“I have never been to the RAM Finals before,” Nogueira said. “This was a great way to start, and maybe we can win it. There’s a lot of money to win, and I could use it to help me in the world standings.”
Anders, Eldridge atop steer wrestling
Kalane Anders and Dakota Eldridge are tied atop the leaderboard after 4.0-second runs Thursday night. They’ll be hoping their times will earn them checks when the first round ends Friday afternoon.
“The steer I had, Hunter Cure won Montgomery (Ala.) on, and you back in there with a steer like that and you’re riding Curtis (Cassidy’s) horse Tyson, you have a lot of pressure, but that seems to be when I shine,” said Eldridge, a seven-time NFR qualifier. “I’ve never done well here (at the RAM NCFR) and I want to win this thing.”
Morgan leading way in barrel racing
Barrel racer Shelly Morgan and her horse Kiss are on top after a 15.04-second run.
“Kiss is always super consistent, and she just made a super consistent run (Thursday night),” Morgan said. “She was nice and smooth. If we can win some money here and get a good start to the year that would be awesome.”
Texas leading team competition
While the second half of the first round won’t finish until Friday’s first performance, Texas is leading in the projected team standings.
The circuit that wins the team competition gets a $500 bonus for each athlete from that circuit competing at the finals.
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