Dec 10, 2021
Pump You Up!
By Patrick Everson
On the classic 1980s Saturday Night Live skits with Hans and Franz, their catchline was: “We’re here to pump (clap) you up!”
Well, with the final two go-rounds of the 2021 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo set for Friday and Saturday night, I’m here to pump you up!
Because you aren’t going to want to miss these final two rounds. If you’re here in Vegas and either have or can get tickets, you’ll want to be at the Thomas & Mack Center. If you can’t get tickets, there are like two dozen free viewing parties around town.
And if you’re not in Vegas, well, jump on The Cowboy Channel. It’s must-see TV, I guarantee.
Granted, Stetson Wright has already locked up his third straight world champion all-around cowboy title. But there are races galore in the other events.
Kaycee Feild is having a red-hot week of bareback riding, but he’s still got plucky Jess Pope right on his heels in the event. The difference could very well be that, as of right now – prior to the ninth round – Feild is first in the average and Pope second.
“My goals are maybe not exactly how I wrote them down, but they are lining up for the end one pretty good,” Feild said after winning Thursday night, his fourth go-round win of the week.
In steer wrestling, Jacob Talley is currently No. 1 in the world standings, but he’s not even a go-round win ahead of Tyler Waguespack. And hard-charging Will Lummus leads the average, which is about a $70,000 bonus check at week’s end if he stays in the No. 1 slot.
“After [Wednesday] night, I was second in the average, and I decided if I want a chance to win a gold buckle, I must take chances,” Lummus said after winning Thursday’s go. “Those guys all around me are not going to back off, and I can’t either.”
The team roping header and heeler standings remain close. Kaleb Driggers, Dustin Egusquiza and Clay Smith are running 1-2-3 respectively, less than a go-round win apart in the header chase, and others are in the hunt, too. Junior Nogueira, Drigger’s partner, is atop a competitive heeler race.
“We are at the point now where we need to win, and that’s what we are going to try and do,” Smith said of he and partner Jade Corkill, who snagged their first go-round win of the 2021 NFR on Thursday night.
In saddle broncs, Stetson Wright and older brother Ryder Wright keep swapping the top spot in the world standings, with Stetson currently on top. So it appears this Battle of the Brothers will run right through Saturday night, and third-place Brody Cress – who leads the average – is trying to apply some pressure, too.
In tie-down roping, Caleb Smidt leads the world standings and is atop the NFR average. But Shane Hanchey is breathing right down Smidt’s neck. In barrel racing, three-time defending world champ Hailey Kinsel remains atop the world standings, but second-place Jordon Briggs leads the average.
“Definitely pressure there,” Briggs said. “You wouldn’t have a heartbeat if you didn’t feel that pressure. I just keep trying to just be grateful that I am here and be grateful for what I have already accomplished. I just have to leave the rest up to whatever happens.”
And in bull riding, Sage Kimzey and the aforementioned Stetson Wright are engaged in a tight chase.
So here me know and listen to me later: I’m here to pump you up … to turn out for the final two rounds of an exhilarating 2021 Wrangler NFR!