Wednesday, December 06, 2006

If fans judged rodeos a cowboy on 'Wild Woman' would win

LAS VEGAS -- There was a time when the bull riding event was the highlight of any rodeo, and the Wrangler National Finals rodeo in particular. But the Professional Bull Riders tour has stolen some of the best talent from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association events.

There were only five qualified rides in bull riding in round 7 of the 2006 NFR tonight at the Thomas & Mack arena on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus.

The most excitement in the event was generated by B.J. Schumacher of Hillsboro, Wisc. He turned in an 84-point ride to win the event and maintain his place at top of the NFR average and earnings lists. Schumacher has also overcome Matt Austin to lead the world standings. Austin had been leading going into the NFR but is out with an injury.

Zeb Lanham of Sweet, Idaho, and Wesley Silcox of Payson, Utah, turned in rides of 63 and 60 points respectively and earned the options to reride for higher scores, but were able to pass on the options and still place fourth and fifth in the round and earn money on the day.

The barrel racers were again one of the highlights of the round, with all top six placers turning in runs of less than 14 seconds.

Denise Adams of Lufkin, Texas, won the round with a 13.67-second time, just 9/100ths off the arena record set the night before by Kelly Maben.

Maben again turned in another fast time of 13.79 seconds, but that was only good enough for sixth place in the round. Maben was leading the NFR earnings and the world standings going into tonight's round. Mary Burger of Pauls Valley, Okla., was in second place in the world standings, but her 13.78-second time was good enough for fifth place in the round, meaning she will narrow Maben's lead in the world standings.

Another highlight of the night was the first event of the night, the bareback riding. It certainly was a favorite with the Oregon contingent I was sitting with. Bobby Mote of Culver, Ore., turned in an 84.5-point ride to win the event on Oakey Robin from Bar T Rodeo.

However, if fan reaction led cowboys to the pay window, the winner of the bareback event would have been Tom McFarland of Wickenburg, Ariz. McFarland rode a high-jumping whirling top of horse by the name of "Wild Woman" from Burch Rodeo to an 82-point ride, which tied him for sixth in the event.

Another Oregonian almost came away with the big check in the steer wresting, but a Californian took it away.

Luke Branquinho of Los Alamos, Calif., shook his booty again in the arena tonight and won the round with a 3.9-second run. Branquinho, who tied for first in Tuesday night's round, has now placed first in four of the seven rounds and won money in five of the seven rounds to top the NFR earnings list in the steer wresting. He's making a move on Dean Gorsuch of Gering, Nebr., who was leading the world standings prior to tonight's go-round. (By the way, hello to any of my family from Gering or Scottsbluff who may somehow stumble on this entry).

Branquinho's run edged out Shawn Greenfield of Lakeview, Ore., who had been leading most of the night with his 4.0-second run.

The other big development out of the steer wresting happened when NFR average leader Stockton Graves of Newkirk, Okla., dropped out of the average lead when he recorded a no-time on his steer tonight. That should move Gorsuch into the average lead, which could help him hold off both Branquinho and Greenfield in the world title race. They are both out of the average race and are only riding for day money in their title bids.

Nick Sartain and Shannon Fascht of Alva, Okla., won the seventh round of the team roping tonight with a 4.1-second run. Finishing second were Matt Sherwood of Queen Creek, Ariz., and Walt Woodard of Stockton, Calif., with a run of 4.3 seconds.

Sherwood and Woodard are making bids for world titles and gained ground on leaders Speed Williams of DeLeon, Texas, and the legendary Clay O'Brien Cooper of Morgan Mill, Texas. Williams and Cooper had a no-time tonight and are now out on two head in the average race. Chad Masters of Clarksville, Tenn., and another legend, Allen Bach of Weatherford, Texas, were leading the average going into tonight's round and tied for fourth in the round with a 4.6-second run. So that world title race could get quite interesting before all is said and done Saturday.

In the saddle bronc event, Cody "Hot Sauce" DeMoss of Heflin, La., scored 87.5 points on Night Moves from Beutler & Son Rodeo Co. to win the round. He edged five-time world champion Billy Etbauer of Edmonds, Okla., who has qualified for the NFR a record-tying 18 times. He's been here every year since 1989, tying the record set by Tom Reeves from 1985-2002.

Etbauer, who at 43 is the oldest competitor in this year's saddle bronc event, scored 83.5 points on a horse named for the Sam's Town casino here in Vegas from Flying U Rodeo.

In the calf roping Chubbuck, Idaho's, Matt Shiozawa put the shazzam on the field again with a 6.9-second time to win the round after also winning Tuesday night's round. Shiozawa was fourth in NFR earnings going into the night and in fifth place in the world standings.

But it will take a lot to catch the world leader in the event, Cody Ohl, of Hico, Texas. Ohl was leading by more then $60,000 in the standings over Trevor Brazile. Ohl finished fourth in the round and leads the average in the event. Brazile finished out of the money in the round and was 9th in the average going into tonight. At third in the world standings is Joe Beaver of Huntsville, Texas, and he again finished in the money, placing 6th. He was fourth in the average going into tonight.

Brazile, however, could have a virtual lock on the all-around title. He leads Beaver my more than $110,000 in that race. I'm sure the PRCA or ESPN statisticians could figure out all the math of it, but there just doesn't seem to be enough days or dollars left in the NFR for Beaver to claim his ninth all-around title this year. But stay tuned.

Get the latest official results from ESPN and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association as soon as they are available through this link.

One housekeeping note: I may not be posting results and commentary after Thursday's Round 8 of the National Finals Rodeo. Yes, I will be there and yes I will be keeping track of scores in my day sheet, but I've got somewhere to go after the rodeo. My brother Dean has tickets to a concert and he's offered to take me. Seems only right that I accept his generous offer, as he's tagged along with me to shows in previous NFR years.

So at this point I'm not expecting to be posting after the rodeo tomorrow, but I plan to be back Friday night (unless I get a better offer). Hey, it's Vegas, a guy can always dream can't he?

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