LAS VEGAS — Chad Masters and Jade Corkill won't know until Saturday night if they'll have a gold buckle in team roping.
What they do have after Round Nine of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is the fastest team roping run in the history of professional rodeo.
Masters, of Clarksville, Tenn., and Corkill, of Fallon, Nev., roped their steer in 3.3 seconds to beat the record of 3.4 seconds, which JoJo Lemond of Andrews, Texas and Randon Adams of Logandale, Nev., had posted only minutes before.
"I knew to beat a 3.4, I needed to throw pretty quick," Masters said. "It was a wonder I didn't throw before I nodded almost. It's probably maybe a good thing we didn't have time to think about it, because after watching the 3.4, it was the best run I've ever seen in my life. It happened at that right time."
Masters took one swing and had the steer roped around the head and turning.
"I hadn't even swung yet when he had it on his head," Corkill said. "I had no choice but to throw. My horse did a great job. I was in perfect position and it felt like an easy shot the way it turned out, but it was do or die for us right there, so I had to throw."
It was a run Masters and Corkill desperately needed after a sub-par Finals have left them in desperate need of day money to have a shot at the world championship.
They are both still in first place, but are sitting eighth in the average with a host of ropers breathing down their necks in a position to overtake them.
"We definitely needed it tonight and we need it (Saturday) night, too," Masters said. "I'm pretty sure we need everything we can get."
Corkill said there's no pressure in Round 10 because what's needed is clear.
"We know exactly what we have to do," he said. "We know we have to win the round and this is what we do for a living, so there's no pressure."
The world record overshadowed bull rider J.W. Harris clinching his second consecutive world championship.
Harris, of May, Texas, clinched the title despite not winning any money at this year's NFR. He suffered a broken hand in Round Two.
Luckily, he had built an insurmountable lead during the regular season and when Kanin Asay of Powell, Wyo., and Corey Navarre of Weatherford, Okla., bucked off their bulls on Friday, it meant no one could catch Harris.
He became the first bull rider since Blue Stone did it in 2001 and 2002 to win back-to-back world titles.
"Winning two in a row and it hadn't been done since Blue Stone, and before him Donny (Gay) did it it's pretty neat to be able to say I'm in the same group as these guys," he said. "It's just a dream. It's pretty nice I came in here with the lead that I had because if it had been any less, they would have caught me in a hurry."
Cody Hancock of Taylor, Ariz., won the round in bull riding with an 89.5-point ride, but it came at a price.
At the whistle, the bull, Ballistic of Lancaster & Pickett Rodeo, pulled Hancock down over the front and Hancock's head hit the bull's horn. Hancock was knocked out and tended to on the arena floor for several minutes.
He was awake in the Justin Sportsmedicine Room several minutes later, but was transported to a Las Vegas hospital with a concussion.
Hancock won $17,139.
In bareback, two-time world champion Bobby Mote of Culver, Ore., moved a step closer to a third gold buckle after riding the Calgary Stampede bronc Coconut Roll for 86.5 points to win the round.
It added another $17,139 to his total, meaning he needs only a solid ride in Round 10 to pass Clint Cannon of Waller, Texas in the world standings. Mote leads the average, which comes with a $43,954 bonus. Cannon finished out of the money with a 78.5-point ride on Friday and is 10th in the average, out of the money.
Mote knew the veteran bronc well.
"Coconut Roll of the Calgary Stampede is the epitome of a winner," he said. "If the chips are down, there's lots of really good horses — but there's a few horses who are winners that know when you need them to show up and will raise their game, and she's one of them.
"I've had her I think five times and just off the top of my head I think I've won close to $90,000 on that horse."
In steer wrestling, Casey McMillen of Craig, Colo., won the round with a time of 3.3 seconds.
It was a relief for McMillen, who has been waiting for such a run at the NFR.
"It feels awesome," he said. "I've been here for three years now and it's always been a dream. Obviously, I'd like a gold buckle, but you want to come here and win go-rounds and have a good Finals and I've never really done that."
McMillen credited the horse he was riding for making the difference.
"It took getting on Gunner a new horse to me, but he's been here a lot and ever since I've been on him, I've been placing and tonight I won the round. He just gives you that extra little advantage."
The saddle bronc riders faced the eliminator pen on Friday night and the broncs lived up to the billing as only five riders were able to make successful rides.
Leading the way was J.J. Elshere of Quinn, S.D., who rode the bronc Griz of Frontier Rodeo Company for 86 points.
Elshere said he might have had the most rideable bronc in the round.
"They call this the eliminator pen because they're the ones that are really hard to ride," Elshere said. "The one I had, he didn't quite match up with the rest of them. He was just a really good horse to ride."
In tie-down roping, Clint Robinson of Spanish Fork, Utah, and Justin Maass of Giddings, Texas, split the round victory with identical 7.3-second runs.
"I was just trying to be as fast as I could be," Maass said. "I knew it was going to be a tough round. The calves were good and I was just trying to go as fast as I could."
Robinson kept alive his hopes for winning the world title.
"It was big," he said of his run. "I don't think I'm in the race as much as everyone thinks, even if I am in second in the world. But I'm going to go at them tomorrow and see what happens."
In barrel racing, Cassie Moseley of Farwell, Texas, won her second round of the NFR, rounding the barrels in 13.74 seconds on her horse Mitey Man to pick up $17,139.
"He was just firing tonight," Moseley said. "He gets that adrenaline rush and it makes him kind of lock down in the alley, and I thought that was a sign he would run good. I just told myself, 'ride, ride, ride.'"
The WNFR will be televised nightly on ESPN Classic and ESPN2. At the conclusion of the 10th performance on Dec. 12th, the contestants with the highest earnings in each event will be crowned as the 2009 world champion.