LAS VEGAS, Nev. Just as in steer wrestling, the race for the team roping gold buckles is likely going to come down to the wire. In front of 17,573 fans during the second round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center, it couldn't have been any tighter at the top.
The team of Travis Tryan and Michael Jones were on top for the second night in a row, but they had company in Round 2 in the form of Jimmy Edens and Ryan Motes, who also stopped the clock in 4.7 seconds.
Tryan, of Billings, Mont., and Jones, of Stephenville, Texas, put $14,675 in their pockets with their tie with the Texas tandem of Edens (Gatesville) and Motes (Weatherford) to run their money total to $31,070 in two days in Las Vegas.
"This is something you dream of all your life, and I'm finally living the dream," said the Wrangler NFR rookie Edens, who is roping against his brother, Tommy, at this year's event. "It stops your heart, and I'm speechless. We've broken the ice now, so we can go as fast as we want to go from here on out."
Motes, the son of 1977 World Champion Team Roper David Motes, echoed his partner's sentiments.
"It's everything I always thought it would be," said Motes, another of the 36 Wrangler NFR rookies. "I've always wanted to rope here, and here I am. To win a round against all of our heroes is really special."
The tie for first place moved Jones to the top of the Crusher Rentals PRCA World Standings among heelers, while Chad Masters roping with Allen Bach continues to lead the headers.
Naturally, there was a tie for third place as well, with the teams of Clay Tryan and Walt Woodard, Jake Barnes and Clay O'Brien Cooper and Tee Woolman and Cory Petska knotted together with a trio of 4.9-second times. Each team member earned $6,963 for their efforts.
Edens and Motes weren't the only Wrangler NFR rookies to shine on the second night.
The steer wrestling was a lightning-quick affair in Round 2, with Matt Reeves claiming the round buckle with a 3.5-second run. The Pampa, Texas, cowboy, also a Wrangler NFR rookie, finished one-tenth of a second ahead of Shawn Greenfield.
Five of the 15 runs ended with times quicker than 4.0 seconds, and Greenfield took over the lead in the Crusher Rentals PRCA World Standings with his second-place finish and $12,957 paycheck.
"It's my first NFR, and winning a buckle on the second night is pretty exciting," Reeves said. "The first check seemed like it was probably going to be the hardest one, and now that that's done, I just hope I can keep it going. This was the good pen of steers. I really didn't know if a four-second run would win a check."
Not to be outdone, several Wrangler NFR veterans also rose to the top of the second-round standings.
Royce Ford won a round on Sankey Rodeo's Gus for the second time this year, this time it just happened to come during the second round of the Wrangler NFR. Ford, of Briggsdale, Colo., teamed with Gus for a winning 89-point ride to earn the $16,394 first-place check.
Ford won the bareback riding in Bremerton, Wash., on the horse earlier this year and was excited to draw him in Round 2.
"I was really glad to have that horse," Ford said. "That horse leaps in the air so high that he gives you a lot of time to set your feet, and that horse bucks hard. This set of horses that was out tonight, they're all kind of the bucker types, and if you stub your toe, they'll throw you off."
Jason Jeter, the Round 1 winner, and Tom McFarland, who travels with Ford, tied for second place with matching 86-point rides. Steven Dent, riding in his first Wrangler NFR, suffered a non-displaced right elbow fracture when his foot was caught in the flank strap as he hit the ground following an 82-point ride aboard J Bar J Ranch's Night Jacket, and he is questionable for Round 3.
Canada's Rod Hay, who is competing in his 18th career Wrangler NFR, followed his second-place finish from Round 1 with a win in Round 2. He spurred Kesler Rodeo's Shady Cat for 83.5 points and the win and survived the first "eliminator pen" of bucking horses of this year's Finals that sent 10 of the 15 riders to the turf before the eight-second whistle.
Hay, of Wildwood, Alberta, finished 3.5 points ahead of 2005 World Champion Jeff Willert, who was carried off on a stretcher after being stepped on by Bar T Rodeo's Hy Lo following his successful ride.
Willert, of Belvidere, S.D., suffered a mid-shaft femur fracture to his right leg and was transported to University Medical Center for treatment. The injury will require surgery, and he will miss the remainder of this year's Wrangler NFR.
Hay was more than happy to once again return to the winner's circle at the Wrangler NFR.
"I won the drawing contest today, and I'm just glad I made the best of it," Hay said. "If I had my pick of them, it would have been her (Shady Cat). It was an eliminator pen. Those horses all buck really hard, and they have the ability to buck guys off. They have done it all year, and that is why they are here and in that pen."
Nine-time Wrangler NFR qualifier Stran Smith made the quickest tie-down roping run of the night, earning the round buckle with an 8.0-second mark. The Childress, Texas, cowboy finished one-tenth of a second ahead of Houston Hutto and Matt Shiozawa for the win.
After missing the 2006 Wrangler NFR due to shoulder surgery, Smith was more than pleased to not only return to Las Vegas as a competitor, but to also return to the winner's circle.
"I was right at the first, and this was the pen of big calves," Smith said. "I knew I had a good one. You know when you start off and have 12 guys behind you, the 12 best guys there are, you just let your hair down and go at it. I put a wrap and a hooey on him, and he stayed (in the tie). I was just fortunate enough to slide in there by a tenth to go ahead and win the round."
With his tie for second place and $11,370 paycheck, Hutto, of Del Rio, Texas, gained more than $7,000 on Crusher Rentals PRCA World Standings leader Trevor Brazile, who earned $4,231 in Round 2 with a fifth-place finish. Brazile, who is aiming for the PRCA's first Triple Crown since Roy Cooper in 1983, continues to lead the tie-down roping standings with $136,771, with Hutto in second place with $121,784.
In the barrel racing, Canada's Lindsay Sears, who swept all four rounds in Omaha, Neb., won Round 2 with a 13.92-second run. The Nanton, Alberta, cowgirl completed the cloverleaf pattern on her 7-year-old mare Martha and added $16,394 to her Crusher Rentals PRCA World Standings total. She trails Brittany Pozzi-Pharr by $49,541 heading into Round 3.
"Tonight, I just went a little bit harder to the first barrel," sais Sears, who finished out of the money in Round 1 after tipping over a barrel. "I had a little bit more momentum, which is what got me around the barrel. Last night, I didn't quite have enough momentum, and I caught it (the barrel) while leaving it. The runs were very similar, but we got around all three tonight."
Jill Moody, who won the first round, posted a 13.96-second run to finish second behind Sears in Round 2. Moody, of Letcher, S.D., has already earned $29,351 in two rounds in Las Vegas and has moved to third place in the Crusher Rentals PRCA World Standings behind Pozzi-Pharr and Sears.
Bull rider Wesley Silcox qualified for the Wrangler NFR for the third straight year in 2007, and for the third straight year, he won a round at the Thomas & Mack Center. Silcox, of Payson, Utah, scored 86.5 points on Rumford Rodeo's Spin Dippin' to edge reigning World Champion B.J. Schumacher by half a point. Schumacher, of Hillsboro, Wis., rode Barnes PRCA Rodeo's Red Rabbit for 86 points and a second-place check that widened his lead in the Crusher Rentals PRCA World Standings.
Silcox's score matched his Round 1 mark, which was good enough for second place in that round, bringing his Wrangler NFR earnings total to $29,351 in two days in Las Vegas.
"I had never had him (Spin Dippin') before," Silcox said. "I was able to watch Jarrod Craig ride him last year, and he split the round on him, so I knew he would be good to ride."
For more information on the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo visit prorodeo.org