Wright Night at the WNFR

DEC 1, 2016

Wright Night at the WNFR


Courtesy of PRCA

Ryder Wright didn't waste any time making an impact at his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Polaris RANGER.

The 18-year-old from Milford, Utah, took the Round 1 saddle bronc riding win with an 87.5-point ride on Frontier Rodeo's Times Up to earn a check worth $26,231, and move from 14th to sixth in the WEATHER GUARD® PRCA World Standings.

When told he had just won that amount of money, Wright was a bit stunned.

"I hadn't thought about (what to spend the money on)," Wright said. "I'll buy lots of toys, I guess."

It was a family affair in the event Thursday night, as Ryder's father, two-time World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider Cody Wright, placed second. Ryder's uncle Jake Wright was third, and Ryder's older brother Rusty placed fifth. That's four of the night's six checks written out to Wrights.

"I think (my family) will say, 'Good job,' hopefully. I'm on cloud nine," Ryder said.

"My thoughts are scattered - pulling into Vegas is like it's another year, but crawling into the bucking chutes you can't describe. You wanted to do it your whole life, and it's here, and it's about having fun."

Ryder's score tied for the second-highest ever in the first round of saddle bronc riding at the WNFR. It tied Jeffery Willert's 87.5 from 2005, while the best first-round score ever was Bryce Miller's 89 in 2008.

Ryder Wright was brimming with confidence, and says the big first night sets the pace for the upcoming nine.

"Damn right it does - I hope the next nine nights are just like that," he said. "It's freaking awesome - a dream come true."

Levi Simpson and Jeremy Buhler are the first all-Canadian team roping team to qualify for the WNFR, and they made everybody north of the border proud with their first run together in the Thomas & Mack Center.

Simpson, of Ponoka, Alberta, and Buhler, of Arrowwood, Alberta, clocked a 4.4-second run, which was two-tenths of a second better than the rest of the field.

"This feels amazing," Simpson said. "To come here and represent our country and have the support we do back home and here, there are so many of our fans and family who came here to support us. To be in the record books as the first Canadian team is awesome, and to throw in a win in the first round is every little boy's dream who grows up team roping. He wants to win a round, and a gold buckle."

Simpson moved up six spots to eighth in the world standings among headers, while Buhler shot up seven spots to fifth in the world standings on the heeling side.

"It's pretty awesome," Buhler said. "We have people texting and sending messages and stuff, and it feels good to have all of them behind us and to do good.

"The cattle were pretty big and strong, and I think this was the stronger pen, so the degree of difficulty was maybe tougher. With a field of ropers like this, I didn't think this would happen."

The more things change, the more they stay the same for two-time defending World Champion Bull Rider Sage Kimzey.

He started his quest for a third consecutive gold buckle with an 86.5-point trip on Frontier Rodeo's Aftershock, earning the fifth round win of his career, and first since 2014.

"I'm in the best shape I've ever been in, and the best mental state," Kimzey said. "I'm firing on all cylinders, and I've never felt this way at the Finals. I put in the work and the time, and that's going to show in the arena. I went the extra mile with my preparation - working on balance and flexibility in the gym every day. I got on practice bulls, and I'm feeling sharp this year."

Kimzey expanded his lead in the world standings over second-place Joe Frost to nearly $75,000.

"I have the best job in the world, for sure," Kimzey said. "And coming to this rodeo is just icing on the cake. Coming here to shoot at $26,000 a night is pretty special. I'm going to buy a new RV and some land."

Tanner Aus got married Oct. 15, and on night one of the WNFR he put $26,231 into the bank account for himself and wife Lonissa.

The Granite Falls, Minn., native rode for 85.5 points on Cervi Championship Rodeo's RodeoHouston Control Freak.

"She's been wanting a new car, but I think we're going to put that money into savings," Aus said of the large check.

The win moved him up two spots to second place in the world standings.

"I've been thinking about this first round for about two months now. I've been on a few horses since the end of the (regular) season, but all of the preparation went into this first ride, and the next nine nights. It feels great to get that first one out of the way, and you want to jump out and have a great start. Tim (O'Connell) is riding great, and every dollar is important."

Tyler Waguespack and Clayton Hass are traveling partners, meaning they do a lot of different things together. That includes splitting the first-round victory at the WNFR.

Waguespack, of Gonzales, La., and Hass, a native of Terrell, Texas, both stopped the clock in 3.8 seconds to each earn $23,481. Both also rode 2016 PRCA/AQHA Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year Cadillac.

Waguespack moved to the top spot in the world, and Hass was close behind, trailing his buddy by a little more than $3,000.

"It's excellent to get it started off right," Waguespack said. "We both came in here with a lot of confidence. Clayton, Ty Erickson and myself travel together all year, and all three of us wanted to win. We have a lot of confidence, and we're just going to keep pulling for each other and doing our best."

It was the third WNFR round win of Hass' career, as he also won Rounds 3 and 6 last year. Waguespack collected his second career-round win, with his first coming in Round 7 last year.

"We are prepared mentally every day we run a steer," Hass said. "I know this rodeo pays a ton, but you have to run these steers just like it's another day at any other rodeo. The best competitors in the world are right here, and if we make mistakes they are going to get us."

Shane Hanchey, the 2013 world champion tie-down roper, showed why he and brother Jason's horse Reata are still as dangerous a duo as there is in the sport.

Hanchey recorded a time of 7.1 seconds to edge Marty Yates by a tenth of a second for the Round 1 win.

"Riding Reata made all the difference in the world," Hanchey said. "That horse has won so many titles, and in this arena I have the confidence on him that I probably will never have on another horse.

"I just have a calm feeling when I'm backing in the box on him here. It's something I look forward to; to be able to ride him in this building with that kind of confidence and the money we can run at now is pretty awesome."

Hanchey has been riding Reata since 2004, including the 2013 world-title season.

It was the sixth round win of Hanchey's career, and the second time he took a victory lap in the first round - the last time he won the first round, he went on to win the world.

"I'm excited about tonight, but there are still nine more rounds and I'm still going to take things one round at a time and one calf at a time," he said. "I knew I had a pretty decent calf tonight, I just didn't know how fast I could be on him."

Barrel racer Pamela Capper teamed up with her horse Jesse to not only win the round, but make a little history as well.

Capper's winning time of 13.75 seconds tied the record for the fastest first-round barrel racing run in WNFR history. Mary Walker and her great horse Latte were 13.75 at the 2012 WNFR.

"My plan was to do the same thing I do at every other rodeo," Capper said. "I really wasn't nervous at all. I knew my horse knew her job, so I just had to concentrate on doing mine correctly. I just needed to keep my hands correct and let her do her thing. She just gravitates to the barrel - she handled it all terrific."

First Performance Results, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016
Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nev.

Bareback riding: 1. Tanner Aus, Granite Falls, Minn., 85.5 points on Cervi Championship Rodeo's RodeoHouston Control Freak, $26,231; 2. Clayton Biglow, Clements, Calif., 84.0, $20,731; 3. Tim O'Connell, Zwingle, Iowa, 83.0, $15,654; 4. Wyatt Denny, Minden, Nev., 81.5, $11,000; 5. (tie) Caleb Bennett, Tremonton, Utah; Jake Brown, Hillsboro, Texas; and Jake Vold, Ponoka, Alberta; 81.0, $3,667 each; 8. (tie) Winn Ratliff, Leesville, La., and J.R. Vezain, Cowley, Wyo., 80.0; 10. Ty Breuer, Mandan, N.D., 78.0; 11. Richmond Champion, The Woodlands, Texas, 77.5; 12. Jessy Davis, Power, Mont., 77.0; 13. Evan Jayne, Marseille, France, 76.5; 14. Orin Larsen, Inglis, Manitoba, 66.5; 15. R.C. Landingham, Hat Creek, Calif., 49.0. World standings: 1. Tim O'Connell, $204,618; 2. Tanner Aus, $148,915; 3. Orin Larsen, $148,296; 4. Caleb Bennett, $146,161; 5. R.C. Landingham, $114,678; 6. Clayton Biglow, $107,603; 7. Winn Ratliff, $106,295; 8. Evan Jayne, $91,581; 9. Jake Brown, $89,821; 10. Jake Vold, $88,488; 11. Wyatt Denny, $87,798; 12. J.R. Vezain, $84,200; 13. Ty Breuer, $81,118; 14. Richmond Champion, $79,169; 15. Jessy Davis, $77,801.

Steer wrestling: 1. (tie) Clayton Hass, Terrell, Texas, and Tyler Waguespack, Gonzales, La., 3.8 seconds, $23,481 each; 3. Matt Reeves, Cross Plains, Texas, 3.9, $15,654; 4. Baylor Roche, Tremonton, Utah, 4.3, $11,000; 5. (tie) J.D. Struxness, Appleton, Minn., and Cody Cabral, Hilo, Hawaii, 4.6, $5,500 each; 7. (tie) Josh Peek, Pueblo, Colo., and Nick Guy, Sparta, Wis., 4.7; 9. (tie) Jason Thomas, Benton, Ark., and Riley Duvall, Checotah, Okla., 4.8; 11. Trevor Knowles, Mount Vernon, Ore., 6.1; 12. Jacob Talley, Keatchie, La., 7.2; 13. Dakota Eldridge, Elko, Nev., 8.6; 14. (tie) Ty Erickson, Helena, Mont., and Billy Bugenig, Ferndale, Calif., NT. World standings: 1. Tyler Waguespack, $118,938; 2. Clayton Hass, $115,803; 3. Ty Erickson, $102,942; 4. Jason Thomas, $100,637; 5. J.D. Struxness, $99,935; 6. Dakota Eldridge, $91,951; 7. Baylor Roche, $89,405; 8. Matt Reeves, $88,055; 9. Josh Peek, $81,397; 10. Jacob Talley, $81,033; 11. Nick Guy, $78,821; 12. Billy Bugenig, $72,805; 13. Riley Duvall, $71,177; 14. Cody Cabral, $70,870; 15. Trevor Knowles, $68,653.

Team roping: 1. Levi Simpson, Ponoka, Alberta/Jeremy Buhler, Arrowwood, Alberta, 4.4 seconds, $26,231 each; 2. Dustin Bird, Cut Bank, Mont./Russell Cardoza, Terrebonne, Ore., 4.6, $20,731; 3. (tie) Luke Brown, Stephenville, Texas/Jake Long, Coffeyville, Kan., and Riley Minor, Ellensburg, Wash./Brady Minor, Ellensburg, Wash., 4.9, $13,327 each; 5. Kaleb Driggers, Albany, Ga./Junior Nogueira, Burleson, Texas, 5.1, $6,769; 6. Coleman Proctor, Pryor, Okla./Billie Jack Saebens, Nowata, Okla., 5.2, $4,231; 7. Garrett Rogers, Baker City, Ore./Jake Minor, Ellensburg, Wash., 9.3; 8. Matt Sherwood, Pima, Ariz./Quinn Kesler, Holden, Utah, 9.5; 9. Zac Small, Welch, Okla./Wesley Thorp, Stephenville, Texas, 9.9; 10. Erich Rogers, Round Rock, Ariz./Cory Petska, Marana, Ariz., 10.8; 11. (tie) Clay Smith, Broken Bow, Okla./Paul Eaves, Lonedell, Mo.; Colby Lovell, Madisonville, Texas/Travis Graves, Jay, Okla.; Kolton Schmidt, Barrhead, Alberta/Shay Carroll, Prineville, Ore.; Cody Snow, Los Olivos, Calif./Dugan Kelly, Paso Robles, Calif.; Tyler Wade, Terrell, Texas/Dakota Kirchenschlager, Morgan Mill, Texas, NT. World standings (headers): 1. Kaleb Driggers, $139,111; 2. Luke Brown, $128,167; 3. Dustin Bird, $126,346; 4. Clay Smith, $117,496; 5. Kolton Schmidt, $106,147; 6. Riley Minor, $105,301; 7. Colby Lovell, $104,476; 8. Levi Simpson, $99,364; 9. Erich Rogers, $82,993; 10. Garrett Rogers, $82.937; 11. Zac Small, $79,268; 12. Matt Sherwood, $78,849; 13. Cody Snow, $78,295; 14. Tyler Wade, $76,876; 15. Coleman Proctor, $76,254. World standings (heelers): 1. Junior Nogueira, $139,111; 2. Jake Long, $124,822; 3. Russell Cardoza, $119,685; 4. Paul Eaves, $118,785; 5. Jeremy Buhler, 108,542; 6. Brady Minor, $103,793; 7. Travis Graves, $88,681; 8. Shay Carroll, $84,737; 9. Cory Petska, $84,219; 10. Dugan Kelly, $84,087; 11. Dakota Kirchenschlager, $83,102; 12. Billie Jack Saebens, $83,039; 13. Jake Minor, $82,358; 14. Quinn Kesler, $78,818; 15. Wesley Thorp, $73,702.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Ryder Wright, Milford, Utah, 87.5 points on Frontier Rodeo's Times Up, $26,231; 2. Cody Wright, Milford, Utah, 86.5, $20,731; 3. Jake Wright, Milford, Utah, 85.5, $15,654; 4. Allen Boore, Axtell, Utah, 85.0, $11,000; 5. Rusty Wright, Milford, Utah, 82.5, $6,769; 6. Sterling Crawley, Stephenville, Texas, 82.0, $4,231; 7. Jacobs Crawley, Boerne, Texas, 81.0; 8. Zeke Thurston, Big Valley, Alberta, 80.5; 9. Jesse Wright, Milford, Utah, 78.5; 10. Jake Watson, Hudson's Hope, British Columbia, 77.5; 11. CoBurn Bradshaw, Beaver, Utah, 75.0; 12. (tie) Heith DeMoss, Heflin, La.; Cody DeMoss, Heflin, La.; Clay Elliott, Nanton, Alberta; Chuck Schmidt, Keldron, S.D.; NS. World standings: 1. Jacobs Crawley, $182,304; 2. CoBurn Bradshaw, $140,752; 3. Rusty Wright, $134,712; 4. Jake Wright, $117,177; 5. Zeke Thurston, $115,046; 6. Ryder Wright, $106,835; 7. Cody Wright, $106,177; 8. Allen Boore, $98,289; 9. Heith DeMoss, $95,333; 10. Cody DeMoss, $94,768; 11. Clay Elliott, $90,048; 12. Sterling Crawley, $89,222; 13. Jesse Wright, $86,116; 14. Chuck Schmidt, $81,129; 15. Jake Watson, $78,095.

Tie-down roping: 1. Shane Hanchey, Sulphur, La., 7.1 seconds, $26,231; 2. Marty Yates, Stephenville, Texas, 7.2, $20,731; 3. Hunter Herrin, Apache, Okla., 7.3, $15,654; 4. Riley Pruitt, Gering, Neb., 7.6, $11,000; 5. Ryan Jarrett, Comanche, Okla., 7.8, $6,769; 6. (tie) Reese Riemer, Stinnett, Texas; Ryle Smith, Oakdale, Calif.; and Matt Shiozawa, Chubbuck, Idaho, 8.3, $1,410 each; 9. Tyson Durfey, Weatherford, Texas, 8.8; 10. Cory Solomon, Prairie View, Texas, 9.0; 11. Timber Moore, Aubrey, Texas, 9.3; 12. Cade Swor, Winnie, Texas, 9.5; 13. Blane Cox, Cameron, Texas, 9.7; 14. Marcos Costa, Childress, Texas, 10.4; 15. Caleb Smidt, Bellville, Texas, 13.7. World standings: 1. Marcos Costa, $135,523; 2. Shane Hanchey, $122,163; 3. Hunter Herrin, $119,054; 4. Timber Moore, $118,539; 5. Cory Solomon, $97,392; 6. Riley Pruitt, $95,547; 7. Marty Yates, $94,578; 8. Cade Swor, $91,739; 9. Ryan Jarrett, $90,169; 10. Reese Riemer, $89,910; 11. Caleb Smidt, $86,469; 12. Matt Shiozawa, $83,012; 13. Blane Cox, $80,127; 14. Ryle Smith, $78,732; 15. Tyson Durfey, $74,734.

Barrel racing: 1. Pamela Capper, Cheney, Wash., 13.75 seconds, $26,231; 2. Kimmie Wall, Roosevelt, Utah, 13.90, $20,731; 3. Jana Bean, Fort Hancock, Texas, 13.93, $15,654; 4. Sherry Cervi, Marana, Ariz., 13.96, $11,000; 5. Amberleigh Moore, Keizer, Ore., 14.02, $6,769; 6. Mary Burger, Pauls Valley, Okla., 14.10, $4,231; 7. Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, S.D., 14.11; 8. Jackie Ganter, Abilene, Texas, 14.19; 9. Cayla (Melby) Small, Burneyville, Okla., 14.24; 10. Mary Walker, Ennis, Texas, 14.32; 11. Stevi Hillman, Weatherford, Texas, 14.40; 12. Michele McLeod, Whitesboro, Texas, 18.79; 13. Carley Richardson, Pampa, Texas, 18.89; 14. Sarah Rose McDonald, Brunswick, Ga., 18.92; 15. Ivy Conrado, Hudson, Colo., NT. World standings: 1. Mary Burger, $205,207; 2. Kimmie Wall, $138,526; 3. Jackie Ganter, $126,387; 4. Pamela Capper, $123,736; 5. Mary Walker, $122,816; 6. Ivy Conrado, $121,160; 7. Stevi Hillman, $114,643; 8. Lisa Lockhart, $110,244; 9. Jana Bean, $105,989; 10. Sherry Cervi, $104,679; 11. Sarah Rose McDonald, $99,364; 12. Michele McLeod, $97,745; 13. Cayla (Melby) Small, $97,737; 14. Amberleigh Moore, $95,837; 15. Carley Richardson, $90,875.

Bull riding: 1. Sage Kimzey, Strong City, Okla., 86.5 points on Frontier Rodeo's Aftershock, $26,231; 2. Shane Proctor, Grand Coulee, Wash., 83.5, $20,731; 3. (tie) Roscoe Jarboe, New Plymouth, Idaho, and Brennon Eldred, Sulphur, Okla., 83.0, $13,327 each; 5. Joe Frost, Randlett, Utah, 82.5, $6,769; 6. Cody Rostockyj, Lorena, Texas, 79.0, $4,231; 7. (tie) Cody Teel, Kountze, Texas; Jeff Askey, Athens, Texas; Garrett Smith, Rexburg, Idaho; Jordan Spears, Redding, Calif.; Scottie Knapp, Albuquerque, N.M.; Tyler Smith, Fruita, Colo.; Tim Bingham, Honeyville, Utah; Rorey Maier, Timber Lake, S.D.; Garrett Tribble, Bristow, Okla., NS. World standings: 1. Sage Kimzey, $208,220; 2. Joe Frost, $133,263; 3. Brennon Eldred, $127,034; 4. Roscoe Jarboe, $123,534; 5. Jeff Askey, $119,339; 6. Jordan Spears, $114,148; 7. Cody Teel, $112,194; 8. Shane Proctor, $111,031; 9. Rorey Maier, $109,402; 10. Scottie Knapp, $108,099; 11. Garrett Smith, $104,429; 12. Cody Rostockyj, $102,800; 13. Garrett Tribble, $92,592; 14. Tim Bingham, $91,321; 15. Tyler Smith, $90,814.