The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) takes over Las Vegas Dec. 1-10, with many thousands of Western-clad visitors expected to pull for their favorite athletes at the world’s richest rodeo.
The PRCA’s 2016 regular season closed on Sept. 30. The 2017 regular season opened on Oct. 1.
A competitor’s earnings from a rodeo with a concluding date of Sept. 30 or earlier this year counted toward the 2016 PRCA standings. A competitor’s earnings from a rodeo that closed on Oct. 1 or afterward count toward the 2017 standings.
For example, Marcos Costa, a Brazilian who lives in Childress, earned $2,619 after finishing third at the Sept. 24-29 Pasadena (Texas) Livestock Show Rodeo. Those earnings counted toward the 2016 world standings.
After placing at the Pasadena rodeo, Costa is ranked No. 1 in PRCA’s 2016 tie-down roping standings and has earned his second consecutive trip to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
Costa also earned $1,965 as the result of tying for second at the Waller County Fair & Rodeo in Hempstead, which began Sept. 29, but concluded on Oct. 1. A competitor’s earnings from the Hempstead rodeo counts toward the 2017 standings.
Thurston, from Big Valley, Alberta, took the lead in the first round of saddle bronc riding with an impressive 84-point ride on Hi Lo Pro Rodeo’s horse named LuLu. Thurston is following in the footsteps of his father, Skeeter Thurston, who was the rookie saddle bronc riding champion here in 1982. Zeke Thurston qualified for his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) last year and is on pace for another trip to Las Vegas next December.
He finished last season in 11th place and is hoping to improve that position this year. Like any other cowboy, getting to the NFR and earning a gold buckle is his ultimate goal. He is currently ranked 10th in the world standings and needs to remain among the top 15 through the end of September to earn his second NFR qualification.
Thurston is coming off of one of the biggest wins of his career in his home country. Just over a week ago, he won the Calgary Stampede Rodeo and the $100,000 bonus that goes with it. Remarkably, this is the second time he has earned that title and while it doesn’t count towards the world standings, it certainly counts in his bank account.
Wrangler National Finals Rodeo held in Las Vegas in December. Two finished as reserve world champions there and five of them are entered in this year’s rodeo hoping to defend their titles.
Lisa Lockhart, from Oelrichs, S.D., won the barrel racing here last year on her great buckskin horse Louie. The duo went on to qualify for their ninth NFR and left Las Vegas just short of the world title. Luke Brown, from Stephenville, Texas won the team roping here a year ago roping with Kollin Von Ahn from Blanchard, Okla. Brown also finished as the reserve world champion.
He will be roping here this year with Jake Long from Coffeyville, Kan. They are currently at the top of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s (PRCA) world standings. Also back to defend their titles will be bareback rider Tanner Aus from Granite Falls, Minn.; steer wrestler Nick Guy from Sparta. Wisc.; and tie-down roper Marty Yates, from Stephenville, Texas.
Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) qualifier in 2008-10 and 2015 for team roping, LeMond joined the PRCA in 2002.
In 2015, he bounced back nicely from an injury which had forced him to miss most of the 2014 season. Last season, LeMond placed in eight rounds of the NFR in Las Vegas in team roping, and he placed in four rounds at the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping in Mulvane, Kansas.
The total payout for this year’s Frontier Days Rodeo, which conducted eight performances from June 28 through July 4, was a hefty $252,219.
What follows is a brief rundown of the rest of the winners in each of the primary pro-rodeo events at this year’s rodeo.