The mad dash to the finish line for the 2019 regular pro rodeo season is underway with only a handful of opportunities to secure a spot at the NFR left.
But for one of the Canadians looking to Las Vegas, the season is already over.
“I’m done and headed home, and looking forward to it,” said Canadian champion steer wrestler Scott Guenthner, at the Oldstoberfest rodeo in Olds. He’d reached his 85-rodeo count limit the week before, and put a cap on his season with $102,750.
The good news is that’s enough to keep him third in the world race, and he doesn’t expect the top end placings to juggle much, since most of the five frontrunners are in the same boat as him on their rodeo counts, and have gone home as well.
“It was kind of a dream season,” he admitted. “To be able to go in again, third in the world. To go back and forth (Canada and the U.S.) is a long year.”
“Last year I ended up third in the world and season leader in Canada, but this year I won more money going into the Finals than I did last year. It feels like it was a bit better of a year, but I’m in the same spots.”
The Provost cowboy did most of his runs on Montanan Bridger Chambers’ horse, or Tanner Milan’s, but he’d get on Tyson, Curtis Cassidy’s two-time Canadian horse of the year, occasionally as well.
“It definitely makes or breaks you when you’ve got your horsepower.”
While making Las Vegas in third spot is a definite advantage, Guenthner knows that in that city of bright lights and big bucks, no amount of lead is really safe.
“Going back for my third time, I’m definitely going to be more relaxed. Not that I really get nervous, but just little things, like knowing every day is its own day. Don’t worry about it. If you have a rough night, you move on. In ten days a lot of things can happen.”
“Ty Erickson is about $40,000 ahead of me right now and that’s really two (NFR) rounds, and that’s not even winning the rounds. It’s easy to catch up there.”
The other Canadian steer wrestler hunting for a Las Vegas qualification is still going, but just barely. Tanner Milan has just two chances left state-side, and had slipped back to 18th spot this week, about $5,400 out of bottom hole. On top of that, he’s down to just two more opportunities to try and make ninth straight (and 15th overall) CFR. Talk about a pressure cooker!
“My month of July was really bad, but after that it’s picked up really good here,” said the Cochrane hand, with two Canadian titles and two Wrangler NFR qualifications on his rodeo resume.
He’ll be competing in Pasadena, TX this weekend and has Omaha, NB left.
“I’ll just see what goes on. I’ve got two more bullets. I saw a good quote a while ago that Matt Shiozawa actually showed me. It says ‘Pressure is a Privilege’. I’d never really thought about it that way.”
“You’ve just got to take it one steer at a time, and try and do the best you can with them, and see what happens.”
The largest Canadian contingent for 2019 will be in the saddle bronc riding, where Zeke Thurston is high Canuck at $175,920, in second spot behind leader Ryder Wright and his $220,789 stash of cash. Jake Watson sits at 8th so far, with $108,791, followed closely by Dawson Hay, looking to his first WNFR with $98,640.
Bareback rider Orin Larsen can make his Las Vegas plans, as he sits in third place with $173,442. That’s a mere $8,500 behind leader Clayton Biglow. After sitting out last year’s season end with injury, Clint Laye is looking forward to being back at the NFR and so far, he’s ranked in eighth spot with $103,722. Pascal Isabelle is still in the hunt, but he’ll need to come up with winnings of more than $7,800 from the last several shows. Kody Lamb, at 23rd, gave himself a shot by making the short go at Pendleton, but faces longer odds with a $10,000 shortfall.
At tenth spot, Jordan Hansen can be confident about his December bull riding appointment at the Thomas and Mack, sitting at $114,747. His success at the ProRodeo Tour Finale at Puyallup, WA and it’s $18,203 payday ensured his second NFR appearance.
The PRCA season wraps up September 30th but there are still a few good-paying opportunities some are betting their NFR hopes on. Every penny counts this deadline time of the year.