LAS VEGAS Move over, Billy Etbauer and Jeff Willert. After a dream season, saddle bronc rider Chad Ferley can too have his name mentioned with his boyhood idol, traveling partner and fellow world champions.
Ferley, a 26-year-old native of Oelrichs, S.D., who had his 2005 season disrupted by a broken leg, showed the rodeo world what he could do when healthy. On Friday, he clinched his first saddle bronc riding world title with an 84-point ride aboard Growney.
The effort gave Ferley a share of the Round 9 victory with Bradley Harter (Weatherford, Texas). Harter rode Flying Five Rodeo's Sun Dance to the first-place tie and a $14,342 check.
With one day remaining before ProRodeo officially crowns its world champions, Ferley has an annual earnings total of $194,686, stands to win quite a bit more Saturday in the lucrative 10-head average race and holds an insurmountable lead.
Ferley wasn't the only cowboy to wrap up his first world title on Friday. Bull rider B.J. Schumacher (Hillsboro, Wis.) clinched the crown without a qualified ride, as none of his pursuers could gain any ground with 11 of the 12 competitors hitting the arena dirt early.
Schumacher, who leads all cowboys in Wrangler NFR earnings with more than $85,000, will become the first Wisconsin native to claim a bull riding title and only the second in ProRodeo history, following ProRodeo Hall of Fame bareback rider Jack Buschbom, a world champion in 1949 and from 1959-60.
As Ferley and Schumacher claimed titles, two others who previously clinched gold buckles made more history on Friday.
Trevor Brazile, who sewed up his fourth all-around world title on Thursday, set the ProRodeo record for highest single-year earnings with a fifth-place check in tie-down roping. With $322,947 earned, he broke the record set just one year ago when bull rider Matt Austin bagged $320,766.
"I couldn't ask for anything more," Brazile (Decatur, Texas) said. "Winning my first single-event title (steer roping), then wrapping up the all-around and setting a new earnings record makes it worth all the work I put into it."
Tie-down roper Cody Ohl (Hico, Texas) put more finishing touches on his fifth event world title and sixth overall. By finishing second on Friday, Ohl increased his annual earnings total to $242,682, surpassing Fred Whitfield's previous record of $237,638 set four years ago.
Now, Ohl has his eyes on Whitfield's event average record of 84.0 seconds on 10 head, set in 1997. With a 7.1-second run on Saturday, Ohl will own that mark, too.
In other action on Friday:
Bareback rider Cimmaron Gerke (Brighton, Colo.) won the round title, scoring 83.5 points aboard Growney Brothers' Moulin Rouge.
Steer wrestler Shawn Greenfield (Lakeview, Ore.) had the fastest time of the night, turfing his steer in 3.4 seconds.
Team roping ended in a tie, with Joe Beaver (Huntsville, Texas)/Cole Bigbee (Stephenville, Texas) and David Key (Ledbetter, Texas)/Kory Koontz (Sudan, Texas), both stopping the clock in 4.4 seconds.
Clint Robinson won his second tie-down roping round of the Wrangler NFR, roping and tying his Round 9 calf in 7.3 seconds.
Barrel racer Denise Adams (Lufkin, Texas) took the victory lap for a second straight night after a 13.86-second run.
Bull rider Bobby Welsh (Gillette, Wyo.) recorded the only qualified ride of the night, an 85-point effort aboard Cervi and Guidry's Multi-Chem Western Hauler. Just as Schumacher did in Round 3, Welsh earned $51,683 for being the only rider to cover his bull, but only $16,022 will count for the world standings.
Saddle bronc riding yielded just five qualified rides and saw the untimely passing of Faded Star, a 6-year-old gelding owned by the Andrews Rodeo Company. The horse suffered a distal radial fracture of the left front limb during the round while bucking off Jesse Bail. Official rodeo veterinarian Dr. Garth Lamb stated that the injury was a non-repairable fracture, and the animal was humanely euthanized.