Shiozawa looking to give home fans a repeat victory at the DNCFR | TSLN.com

Shiozawa looking to give home fans a repeat victory at the DNCFR

Courtesy PRCA

POCATELLO, Idaho – Matt Shiozawa remembers everything about his win at last year’s Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo, presented by U.S. Smokeless Tobacco, as being special.

Shiozawa is not necessarily saying it was the biggest moment of his career – he’s been to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeos three times and won the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo – but it was hard to match for the sheer drama of the situation.

Shiozawa was born in Pocatello, lives in nearby Chubbuck, and had the full-throated support of the crowd when he set an arena record of 7.3 seconds on the last run of the tie-down roping competition to win the title over Wes Lockard.

“To have the hometown crowd cheering for you and then to perform like that … it was a significant deal,” Shiozawa said. “There was such a great response from the fans. The place just blew up. It was a really cool moment. The prize money alone is a big deal and then to have the use of a Dodge Ram truck for a year, that’s just a great bonus for all of the champions.”

It’s a moment he would love to experience again April 8-11, when he and saddle bronc rider Chad Ferley return to Pocatello as the only defending champions in the field for the $500,000 DNCFR in Holt Arena, on the campus of Idaho State University.

Shiozawa will be among the favorites in a field that includes reigning World Champion Stran Smith, 2008 PRCA Overall and Tie-Down Roping Rookie of the Year Tuf Cooper and four other past DNCFR champions – Cutter Parsons, Brad Goodrich, Casey Branquinho and Nate Baldwin, from nearby Blackfoot, Idaho.

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Each of the 12 PRCA regional circuits sends its year-end champion and its circuit finals rodeo average champion to the DNCFR, setting a field of 24 competitors in each of the rodeo’s seven events.

Everybody competes in two rounds, and the top eight in the average advance to the semifinals on April 11, where all past times and scores are tossed out. The top four go on to the finals, where once again all times and scores are discarded. The winner of the final is the DNCFR champion.

Shiozawa doesn’t figure the crowd’s expectations for him (and for Baldwin, for that matter) will be scaled down at all this time around. There is still some added pressure to perform.

“It (the DNCFR win) has come up frequently when I’m in town,” Shiozawa said, “and it’s always been positive. Not everybody is totally familiar with rodeo, but they all understand the win, the way the format works and the drama of it. Winning last year doesn’t change anything. They will be rooting for Nate and me to win. And this is special for me. I have roots here. I have family and friends here.”

Ferley, the 2006 world champion, will be defending his DNCFR title against a field that includes reigning World Champion Cody Wright, Rusty Allen, J.J. Elshere, Jesse Kruse and Bradley Harter, all of whom are among the top 20 in the PRCA World Standings.

There are six reigning world champions in this year’s field: Smith, Wright, team ropers Matt Sherwood and Randon Adams, steer wrestler Luke Branquinho and bull rider J.W. Harris. The only world champions absent from Pocatello are bareback rider Justin McDaniel and Canadian barrel racer Lindsay Sears.

Roughstock cowboy Clovis Crane, of Lebanon, Pa., is poised to make some history at this 23rd annual DNCFR. He is the first cowboy to qualify to compete in three events in the same year. He was the First Frontier Circuit’s year-end champion in bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding. He was also the circuit’s all-around champion.

There will be nightly Webcast coverage of the DNCFR (6:30 p.m. MT) through http://www.prorodeolive.com, anchored by Steve Kenyon, with color commentary from ProRodeo Hall of Fame inductee Clint Corey. For results and nightly stories on the rodeo go to http://www.prorodeo.com, the official Web site of the PRCA.