2022 Wrangler NFR presented by Teton Ridge Round 3 Highlights
Story courtesy of the PRCA
Team ropers Tomlinson/Smith win Round 3 in record fashion
LAS VEGAS – The stage wasn’t too big for team ropers – newcomer Tanner
Tomlinson and world champion Patrick Smith Saturday night.
The duo clocked a Round 3 record 3.6-second time for the win at the 2022 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Teton Ridge before 17,703 spectators at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Tomlinson, 22, is making his NFR debut, and Smith, 42, is returning for the 13th time and first since 2015.
“Yeah, it was awesome, the guys right before us (Dustin Egusquiza/Travis Graves) went 3.8,” Smith said. “There were a bunch of 4-second runs so it kind of takes the thinking out of it for us. All we know is we’ve gotta go fast.”
Smith has won world titles in 2005 and 2010.
Tomlinson acknowledged his history-making run was a blur.
“Oh, I have been really nervous the last couple of nights, since this is my first time. It’s just happened so fast when I’m going after them, After Dustin went, I was just seeing blood.”
Saddle bronc rider Lefty Holman makes it two in a row
It didn’t take Lefty Holman long to double his Wrangler NFR pleasure. A night after winning his first career NFR round – Round 2 with an 87-point ride on Four Star Rodeo’s Wall Street – Holman captured Round 3 with a 90.5-point ride on Kirsten Vold Rodeo Company’s Sun Glow.
“That’s my first 90 (point ride) in this building,” Holman said. “I’d known that this horse coming into the day had won a lot of rounds so I knew if I did my job things would work out. I wanted to focus on getting my spur out. I know a couple of guys have had trouble with that so once my feet came clean, it was game over.”
Holman said the Round 2 victory was a key to his Round 3 win, especially mentally.
“Today I was much looser than I was (Friday),” Holman said. “I wasn’t as fired up. After the go-round win yesterday, it’s more about proving to yourself that you belong here and you’re a winner. I was a lot calmer, had more focus and even some tunnel-vision. I just hope I keep doing that throughout the week.”
Holman wants to keep this momentum going as he eyes a gold buckle.
“The world championship is definitely in the back of my mind but right now I have seven horses left in front of me,” Holman said. “I’m just going to keep attacking it one horse at a time. Like I said last night, win the day, win your horse and at the end of the week see what happens.”
Cory Solomon wins tie-down roping with 6.9-second run
Veteran tie-down roper Cory Solomon is competing in his ninth NFR and his experience and horsepower paid off for him in Round 3.
Solomon clocked the fastest time so far in the 2022 NFR with a 6.9-second time.
“I went into tonight with my mind made up, I knew I drew a really good calf,” Solomon said. “The first two nights, I’m a pretty positive person, but I knew I didn’t have a good chance at winning top money, so my goal was to make a good run and hopefully get him by the hold. The first night it worked out. The second night it didn’t. So, tonight drawing a good calf, I knew I had to capitalize on that, going up against the best guys in the world. These chances don’t come very often. Whenever this comes you just have to take advantage of it, and you’ve got to make the best of it.”
Solomon was treating his Round 3 just like a run he does in practice.
“I was just ready to get things going tonight, I don’t think the nerves ever go away in a rodeo like this and fans like this. But I just have to control them. I treat this like my practice pen now, earlier in my career I felt like I had to show people stuff here and now it’s just like my practice pen so it’s good nerves now. I’m just so thankful to get out there and have a good horse now that God blessed me with. I am just so thankful to be doing this.”
Solomon also was quick to credit his horsepower as well.
“That’s my good horse, his name is Play. He’s from Brazil. I rode him in 2020 in Arlington, that was his first year in the U.S. and he had a little injury last year and I brought him here. I rode him one day before we left. He had been off about five months before this. I just thought I would take this opportunity to ride him as much as I can for as long as I can while he’s healthy.”
Pope rises to occasion with Round 3 victory
The last two years Jess Pope has been at his best at the Wrangler NFR winning consecutive average crowns.
The Waverly, Kan., cowboy was in top form Saturday capturing Round 3 with an 86.5-point ride on Stace Smith Pro Rodeos’ Mr. Harry.
“I had never been on that horse. I’ve seen him go a lot and I’ve seen him buck a lot and I always thought that was a bucking son of gun,” said Pope, 24. “I was a little bit nervous when I saw my name next to him, but I sure am glad it worked out. He is one to run you off your riggin’ and he is hitting you in your back trying to bring your upper body forward. It is one of those deals you have to dig down deep and see how bad you want it and see how much you can take. It is the most out of control in control chaos you have been involved in.”
Pope has a simple approach to the remaining rounds. He’s atop the PRCA | RAM World Standings with $233,149.
“I’m just going to take it one horse at a time,” he said. “I can’t control anything other than what I do and if I show up and nod my head and know that I gave it my all every time after that I’m pleased with how everything ends.”
Steer wrestler Stetson Jorgensen muscles his way to Round 3 win
Steer wrestler Stetson Jorgensen came into the Wrangler NFR as the regular season leader and hasn’t taken his foot of the gas at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Jorgensen, a four-time qualifier for the NFR, leads the world standings with $213,630.
“I got a really good start at the barrier, steer went to the right, which is going to happen when you get a start like I did.,” Jorgensen said. “My hazer walled him off for me and I finished him on the ground.
“Oh, you always get nervous, but it’s a good nervous, when you’re at the NFR if you don’t have some nerves, then something is wrong.”
Jorgensen was riding standout horse, Mable.
“Mable did a great job, came from Garrett Henry and just is the type of horse that does what needs to be done.”
Bull riders Garrett Smith and JR Stratford split Round 3 win
Bull riders Garrett Smith and JR Stratford split the Round 3 victory with 90-point rides.
Smith’s ride came aboard Stace Smith Pro Rodeos’ Evil Intentions and Stratford was riding Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Curly Bill.
“That bull is incredible. He got rode for a 92 last year (Creek Young, Round 3) and I knew I had a good chance to win the round. He almost got my hand from me, but I was able to hold on and stay on.
“The whole mental side of bull riding is huge, and I don’t think a lot of people see it. It is physical but the mental part is huge because just like last night, you can go out and not do well and then you have to bounce right back the following night with another bucking bull.”
Stratford also was thrilled with his score.
“It’s a dream come true. It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little boy,” Stratford said. “I will say, the nerves were pretty high the first two rounds and it’s a blessing to get one knocked down.
“My adrenaline really gets running. I’d say before the round there’s a lot of nerves going through me but when I sat in the bucking chutes all three nights, it all went away.”
Barrel racer Hailey Kinsel takes another victory lap in Round 3
Make it two in a row for barrel racer Hailey Kinsel. The Texas cowgirl, who won Round 3 with a 13.61-second time, was even quicker on Saturday with a 13.59-second winning time.
“She just worked and was outstanding,” Kinsel said of Sister. “I was top of the ground, first out. That’s something you want to take advantage of if you can, so I was glad we were able to put it together tonight.”
Kinsel said the order of who runs plays a key role in strategy.
“One, it helps the timing for when your horse needs to be ready and then of course there’s ruts,” Kinsel said. “When you don’t have to run through them as the first out, you create them. On a night like tonight, I can really focus on going out there and doing my job knowing she will have good footing.”
2022 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Results
Round 3, Dec. 3
Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nev.
Bareback Riding: Third round: 1. Jess Pope, 86.5 points on Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Mr. Harry, $28,914; 2. Clayton Biglow, 85.5, $22,851; 3. R.C. Landingham, 85, $17,255; 4. Kaycee Feild, 84, $12,125; 5. Cole Reiner, 83.5, $7,462; 6. Tim O’Connell, 82.5, $4,664; 7. Tilden Hooper, 81.5; 8. (tie) Rocker Steiner and Leighton Berry, 80; 10. Ty Breuer, 79.5; 11. Cole Franks, 78; 12. Garrett Shadbolt, 73; 13. Caleb Bennett, 70.5; 14. Tanner Aus, 66.5; 15. Orin Larsen, 63. Average leaders: 1. Jess Pope, 258.5 points on three head; 2. (tie) Tilden Hooper and Clayton Biglow, 253.5; 4. (tie) Tim O’Connell, and R.C. Landingham, 252; 6. Kaycee Feild, 251; 7. Cole Reiner, 250; 8. Ty Breuer, 248; 9. Cole Franks, 247; 10. Rocker Steiner, 246; 11. (tie) Leighton Berry and Garrett Shadbolt, 239; 13. Tanner Aus, 234; 14. Caleb Bennett, 223; 15. Orin Larsen, 149 points on two head. World standings:1. Jess Pope, $233,149; 2. Kaycee Feild, $182,181; 3. Cole Reiner, $178,432; 4. Leighton Berry, $169,107; 5. Tilden Hooper, $160,496; 6. R.C. Landingham, $159,333; 7. Tim O’Connell, $157,750; 8. Caleb Bennett, $157,290; 9. Tanner Aus, $157,185; 10. Rocker Steiner, $144,328; 11. Clayton Biglow, $142,671; 12. Cole Franks, $134,043; 13. Orin Larsen, $133,784; 14. Ty Breuer, $115,749; 15. Garrett Shadbolt, $113,949.
Top Gun Leader: 1. Caleb Smidt, $82,517; 2. Stetson Jorgensen, $79,020; 3. (tie) Jess Pope and Lefty Holman, $73,890 each; 5. Hailey Kinsel, $67,827; 6. Wenda Johnson, $56,169; 7. Kincade Henry, $55,702; 8. Sage Newman, $55,158; 9. (tie) Patrick Smith and Tanner Tomlinson, $53,604 each.
About The PRCA
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