Cort Scheer wins again, sets Round 2 record
LAS VEGAS – Two days ago, before the 60th edition of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo opened, saddle bronc rider Cort Scheer was sitting in ninth place and ready to make his first Finals appearance since 2015.
Over the next two days, Scheer has won back-to-back rounds, posted a round record, won $62,462 and climbed all the way to third in the 2018 PRCA | RAM World Standings.
Scheer won his second consecutive round Friday, Dec. 7, taking Round 2 with a 92-point ride on Hi Lo ProRodeo’s Larry Culpepper in front of 16,893 fans at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Scheer’s 92-point ride broke the previous Round 2 record of 90 points, set by Dan Mortensen in 2003.
“Oh, man, it was all horse again tonight, and that horse was half of it or more,” Scheer said. “My spur-out was good tonight, and I wanted to work on that, and I was having a lot of fun.”
Scheer won Round 1 with an 86.5-point ride on Calgary Stampede’s Y U R Frisky.
No surprise, Scheer is rather enjoying all this winning.
“It’s the goal,” said Scheer, of Elsmere, Neb. “You want to win every round and keep building off it, and then take that momentum and just have fun tomorrow.”
Scheer had not been aboard Larry Culpepper before Friday. But he did a little research.
“I heard Bradley Harter got him in Albuquerque, and he could have been 90 on him,” Scheer said. “Jake Wright showed me a video, and I knew I had to stay under my rein.”
Scheer’s earnings in 2018 have grown to $164,304. He’s about $31,000 behind defending world champion Ryder Wright, who climbed into the lead Friday.
Scheer is hoping to just keep chipping away at those in front of him.
“It’s just building off it,” he said. “I’m drawing good and the chips are falling for me, so I’m praising God for it, and I know he has a lot more blessings left in him.”
Hooper notches first Finals go-round win since 2008
Tilden Hooper hadn’t been to the Wrangler NFR since 2014. And the last time the bareback rider won a round it was during the 10th round in 2008. So that victory didn’t catch as much attention while the world champions were honored that night.
Hooper enjoyed his victory Friday night after posting an 87.5-point ride on Rafter G Rodeo’s Ankle Biter.
“Obviously, any time you get a round win out here it’s exciting,” said Hooper, of Carthage, Texas. “But just to be back out here after four years is awesome. I’ve had some injuries. I’ve been extremely blessed to have a great family and wife and a whole team of guys behind me that keep me healthy and get me back to this point.”
Hooper’s win helped him climb to eighth place in the 2018 PRCA | RAM World Standings with $131,423.
Though Hooper missed out on qualifying for the previous three Wrangler NFRs, he never lost doubt he’d be back.
“It doesn’t feel like it’s been four years since I’ve been here,” he said. “The process of getting back here and the day-to-day process of me staying healthy, I get so involved with that. It’s kind of like this is the fruit of that labor. I enjoy the labor, so time flies when you’re having fun.”
The last time Hooper was on Ankle Biter was also 2008. So, he knew he had a great draw.
“I got on that horse about 10 years ago when they first bought him,” the 30-year-old laughed. “I knew that horse was going to get way in the air and be showy and be a little bit more fun to ride than some of those other horses. If I could get him picked up and get in time with him, he’d give me a chance to show off. I felt like that’s what I did, and, man, that was fun.”
Frost clears 90 points on re-ride to win bull riding
Joe Frost had just gotten off his first bull, when he was already getting ready to get on the next.
Frost, who was granted a re-ride, rode Powder River Rodeo’s Misfire for 90 points and the win in Round 2 Friday.
Frost barely had time to consider what was going on. And he was just fine with that.
“When things happen that fast, there were only five guys left to ride, and they were running the bull in by the time I got the sweat off my forehead,” said Frost, 26. “There was no time to think, so it was all reactions, and I like it that way. I stayed warm through the second bull.”
The news got even better for Frost. Because of ground money, Frost won $33,564 because he was one of only three riders to make the whistle.
“Shoot, that’s what it all boils down to, and it’s why we are here, to make a living,” he said. “The better you ride, the better living you make.”
Frost posted an 87-point ride in the opening round. He’s one of only two bull riders to cover both of their bulls through the early stages of the 10-day rodeo. He’s earned $59,218 in two days and climbed to third in the world standings with $155,381.
He kept his approach the same from Thursday to Friday.
“I’ve had the same routine since I was a junior in high school,” he said. “There are so many variables in bull riding, and for me I like to keep my routine throughout my day – eat right, have a clear mind and positive attitude in all those things throughout the day. If you have a positive mindset, it makes it easier.”
Defending champ Pearson wins first Finals go-round
Steer wrestler Tyler Pearson didn’t need to win a round at the 2017 Wrangler NFR to capture the world title last year.
If Pearson goes on to win the 2018 world title that won’t be the same scenario.
After Friday night, the Louisville, Miss., bulldogger has his first go-round victory at the Finals.
Pearson won in 3.8 seconds to cash in for $26,231 and up his season earnings to $133,856, grabbing the season lead from Curtis Cassidy, who entered the Finals as the regular-season leader.
Winning the world last year has Pearson more relaxed this season.
“It took the pressure off me just because that was my lifelong dream to win a gold buckle,” said Pearson, 33. “I got that, and now I can just back in there and go have fun. Hopefully, I can get another one, that would be great, but I just want to have a good time in the process.”
Pearson won while riding Scooter, the PRCA | AQHA Horse of the Year for steer wrestling in 2017 and 2018. Scooter led Tyler Waguespack to the Round 1 victory.
“He (Scooter) is just easy,” Pearson said. “He has a flat leave, and he gets off the corner really hard and hauls butt all the way through there. He gives you a chance to get your feet on the ground for first every time. He’s the reason for my success, I owe it all to him.”
Pearson already had crossed off a world title from his to-do list. Now he can cross off a go-round win.
“It wasn’t my prettiest run, but feels great because it is my first (career) win,” he said. “It’s nice to check that off my list and I’ll take it (the $26,231, first-place check) for sure.”
Lockhart’s decision to stick with Rosa pays off
A night after wavering on whether to stick with riding Rosa or switching to Louie, barrel racer Lisa Lockhart’s decision to stay aboard Rosa paid off in spades.
Lockhart and Rosa teamed up to post a Round 2-winning time of 13.65 seconds.
“It (winning rounds) never gets old,” Lockhart said. “And then when you throw in a change (of horses) like this. Because, you know, Louie has made 80 runs in this building, so it was a very hard change for me and a very tough decision to make to even allow Rosa the opportunity. But, she has been an integral part of my team this year. So, I definitely figured she deserved a chance.”
That decision was made harder when the duo tipped a barrel in Round 1. But instead of switching to the veteran Louie, Lockhart stuck by Rosa.
“This is pretty special tonight, definitely,” Lockhart said. “I know she is far from consistent like Louie, so there are going to be the highs and the lows. I hope there are more highs than lows. You just know in the back of your mind when they’re not the seasoned veterans – and there are just those types of horse, too – that are just not as consistent, but I know what her abilities are to win first. That’s why we are doing what we’re doing.”
Lockhart is in second place in the 2018 world standings with $159,746. Hailey Kinsel continues to lead with $229,065.
Yates cashes in on aggressive run
Tie-down roper Marty Yates likes to go fast. He made it work in Round 2.
Yates posted a 7.6-second run aboard Buster to win the round, putting him in fifth place in the 2018 PRCA | RAM World Standings with $136,040.
“I went at it tonight just like I do every time,” said Yates, of Stephenville, Texas. “I’m kind of known as the gunslinger, and I’m going to keep going at them. I’ve won money in the first two rounds, and I came out to win as much money as I could each night and to win the average. Those are my main goals right now and I’m going to stick to those goals.”
After two rounds, Yates has pulled down nearly $50,000 in Wrangler NFR money. He’s planning to keep going at it the same way.
“Any time you start a rodeo off like this it is awesome,” Yates said. “It is what you set out to do when you left home. I felt like I could’ve won a little more (in Round 1), but I’m not going to be greedy. I’m just going to keep going at them and try and tie them as fast as I can each night.”
The victory was Yates’ 10th round win at the Finals.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “Any time you come out here to Vegas and you win rounds it means you’re winning money and you belong out here with the best guys in the world.”
Yates is riding Buster for the third time at the Finals and pointed to his horse as a big reason for the win.
“He’s one of those horses you can ride in any setup, from go-rounds here at the National Finals to big, long scores at Cheyenne (Wyo,),” Yates said.
Smith/Eaves respond with 4.0-second run
A night after watching Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira pull into the lead, team ropers Clay Smith and Paul Eaves answered.
Smith and Eaves kept pace with Driggers and Nogueira by posting a 4.0-second run Friday to win Round 2 of the Wrangler NFR.
The victory pulled Smith within $3,838 of Driggers in the team roping heading and Eaves within $4,822 of Nogueira in team roping heeling.
But with only two rounds down and eight to go, the race for the team roping buckles is far from over.
“It’s a long week still, far from being over, but it’s sure nice,” Eaves said.
Smith is hoping they can do it again.
“We’re going to keep going at them and see what happens,” Smith said, “that’s all we can do, keep making the best round we can make.”
After recording a no time in the first round, Round 2 was a bit of redemption for Smith and Eaves.
“I missed the first round, so it sure helped to get some money the second round,” Smith said.
That money made a big difference.
“For me, I’m just in it to win it, it’s good money and good to be here,” Eaves said.
After two rounds, Smith is up to $151,575 in heading earnings, while Eaves has the same amount in heeling money.