December 6, 2010 -- Saddle bronc rider Jesse Wright has been walking with a noticeable limp in Las Vegas - all the way to the pay window. The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo rookie, riding with a broken bone in his left ankle, finished in the money for the fourth consecutive night by winning Round 5 in front of a sold-out crowd of 17,008 at the Thomas & Mack Center with an 89.5-point ride aboard Burch Rodeo's Lunitic Fringe.
His score - the highest-marked saddle bronc ride at this year's rodeo - was a point better than Cody DeMoss' mark on Frontier Rodeo's Medicine Woman and moved him past the $100,000 mark in season earnings with $107,749.
"It felt really good," Wright said of his winning ride. "That horse is awesome. I haven't been on him, but my brother (Cody) and a lot of my friends have. They all said they wished everybody would have a go at him, and they were right. The horse is like a rocking chair. He's awesome. Anybody could get in time with him. He's just a sweet horse."
Wright, the younger brother of 2008 World Champion Cody Wright, finished the season ranked 16th in the world, but got a spot in the 52nd Wrangler NFR after an injured Rod Hay withdrew. He has made the most of his opportunity, banking $50,841 - the same amount as his older brother.
Jesse Wright is still getting used to the idea that he's actually competing in the Wrangler NFR after Hay's withdrawal.
"It is still sinking in," said Wright, who suffered the ankle injury in Round 1. "I'm on Cloud 9 right now. This feels really good, and I hope this continues. I hope I can keep coming every year now. I don't want to finish 16th (place in the PRCA World Standings) anymore."
The team of JoJo LeMond and Cory Petska won the fifth round with a 3.6-second run, one-tenth of a second faster than Keven Daniel and Caleb Twisselman. It is their first check of the 10-day rodeo and put $17,512 into each of their wallets.
"I've just scored terrible (at the barrier) so far this week and gotten us in a bad position," said LeMond, a three-time Wrangler NFR qualifier. "Tonight, I realized it. I went and watched the videos of our first four runs, and I was missing the barrier by a foot. I don't care if you're here or Reno or Cheyenne. Wherever you are, if you miss the barrier by a foot, you're not going to win anything."
Petska, roping in his eighth Wrangler NFR, was happy to finally make it to the pay window with the victory.
"We finally got it back on the right track," Petska said. "I don't think it was JoJo's fault like he was saying. I had made up my mind coming in here that I was going to take a swing over them and make sure I didn't mess up, and then I was taking one more than I normally take, and tonight I decided I was going to take my normal shot. JoJo did a great job, and that was the run we made all year to get here.
"We had changed our game plan, and you can't do that. You have to rope the same way you always do."
Brazile and 2005 World Champion Header Patrick Smith finished third with a 3.8-second run and have a whopping 11.2-second lead in the average with a 21.4-second total time on five head. At their current clip, they are on pace to break the Wrangler NFR average record of 59.1 seconds set by Jake Barnes and Clay O'Brien Cooper in 1994 by nearly 17 seconds.
Brazile stayed red hot by tying five-time World Champion Tie-Down Roper Cody Ohl for the Round 5 victory with a 6.9-second run. In what became a battle of world champs, 2008 World Champion Stran Smith finished third in 7.4 seconds.
"Any time you can double dip, it's a great night in Vegas," said Brazile, who also tied Ohl for the Round 5 win at last year's Wrangler NFR. "In the team roping, I left a little early, pulled, got off balance, reached, my steer checked off, and my partner got by.
"In the calf roping, it felt like I'd been roping well all week; I just didn't get anything going. I got the ball rolling tonight. I'd been threatening that I was going to throw a wrap and a hooey on, and this was the first time I got a chance."
It was Ohl's 38th career round victory at the Wrangler NFR - second only to Billy Etbauer's 52 - and moved him to fourth place in the PRCA World Standings. Brazile leads the world with $161,237, $29,012 ahead of his brother-in-law, Tuf Cooper.
"My theory during the year is 'big checks or no checks,'" Brazile said. "But it's harder to do it when you're flirting with a $45,000 average. It was a gamble, but we're in Vegas. I'm looking forward to a great week."
Seven-time World Champion Tie-Down Roper Fred Whitfield finished fifth in 7.6 seconds and leads the Wrangler NFR average standings with a total time of 41.5 seconds. That is the same five-head time total Whitfield had through five rounds in 1999, when he won the Wrangler NFR average and a world championship. Whitfield, of Hockley, Texas, owns the Wrangler NFR average record of 84.0 seconds on 10 head set in 1997.
After two years without a round victory, three-time World Champion Will Lowe broke through for the Round 5 win thanks to an 87-point ride aboard Kesler Rodeo's Street Dance. That ride left Lowe a point ahead of 2004 World Champion Kelly Timberman and Jason Havens and gave him his first Wrangler NFR round win since Round 10 of the 2007 event.
"It's such an exciting rodeo and such a great rodeo, and I've been fortunate to have won a couple rounds already (in my career)," Lowe said. "You go a while without getting one, and you're thinking, 'Is it ever going to come back around?' But there are 15 guys who are out there trying their hardest, and they're the best bareback riders in the world. So, when you think about it, it's not uncommon to go a little while without getting a round win."
Ethen Thouvenell, another Wrangler NFR rookie, won his second round of this year's Finals with a 3.7-second run, one-tenth of a second better than 2006 World Champion Dean Gorsuch. Thouvenell, who won a share of the second round with two-time World Champion Luke Branquinho, crossed the $100,000 mark in season earnings ($111,977) with his $17,512 winner's check on the steer Branquinho had drawn in Round 2.
"I'm having a great week," said Thouvenell, of Napa, Calif. "I did miss one (in Round 3), and that bummed me out a little bit and made me a little nervous. I've been able to come back, and hopefully I can keep doing what I'm doing. I didn't think it was going to go this well. I'm really excited, though."
Two-time and reigning World Champion J.W. Harris won for the second time in five days, thanks to an 89-point ride aboard Burch Rodeo's Velvet Revolver. He finished 3.5 points ahead of Wrangler NFR rookie Clayton Williams, who got along great with Silverado Rodeos' Black Mamba.
"He was in and out and he whipped around the corner," Harris, who also won the second round, said of Velvet Revolver. "He kind of dropped me down in there. I had to wait for a second and keep a good hold with my outside foot, so I didn't drop off in there. I used the bull's momentum to get back in the middle."
Harris, who missed five rounds of last year's Wrangler NFR after breaking his right hand in Round 2, is having much more fun in Las Vegas this year.
"I'm able to get on, and I'm healthy," Harris said. "I'm staying on bulls. When you're doing those things, it's a heck of a lot of fun. It's a whole lot more fun than watching with a broken hand."
Lisa Lockhart, who won Round 1, picked up another go-round buckle after a 13.62-second run in Round 5. She edged Jill Moody by one one-hundredth of a second and ran her 2010 Wrangler NFR earnings to $50,371.
"I thought he worked phenomenally well," Lockhart said of her 7-year-old buckskin gelding, Louie. "It is so critical to nail that first barrel here. He felt really focused, just like he did on the first night. This horse can handle anything and everything. He's just one that doesn't mind any situation."
Moody leads the Wrangler NFR average standings with a five-run total time of 69.01 seconds and is third in the world, while Lockhart stands second in the average and fourth in the world.
RAM TOP GUN AWARD UPDATE:: Brazile earned $26,127 in the team roping and tie-down roping in Round 5 to take over the top spot in the Ram Top Gun Award standings with $73,579; Harris is second with $57,620. The Ram Top Gun Award recognizes the competitor who wins the most money during the 10-day event, and the winner gets a Ram truck, a custom buckle from Montana Silversmiths and a one-of-a-kind Ram Truck Top Gun-branded rifle from Commemorative Firearms. Smith is third with $55,078, while Cody and Jesse Wright are tied for fourth with $50,841 apiece.
COMPLETE ROUND 5 RESULTS AND AVERAGE STANDINGS
Bareback riding:: 1. Will Lowe, Canyon, Texas, 87 points on Kesler Rodeo's Street Dance, $17,512; 2. (tie) Kelly Timberman, Mills, Wyo., and Jason Havens, Prineville, Ore., 86, $12,145 each; 4. Wes Stevenson, Lubbock, Texas, 85.5, $7,344; 5. Justin McDaniel, Porum, Okla., 85, $4,519; 6. Bobby Mote, Culver, Ore., 83.0, $2,825; 7. Steven Dent, Mullen, Neb., 82; 8. (tie) Dusty LaValley, Bezanson, Alberta; Steven Peebles, Redmond, Ore., and Joe Gunderson, Agar, S.D., 81; 11. Clint Cannon, Waller, Texas, 73; 12. (tie) Kaycee Feild, Payson, Utah; Matt Bright, Azle, Texas, and D.V. Fennell, Neosho, Mo., NS. Average: 1. Justin McDaniel, 420 points on five head; 2. Steven Dent, 419; 3. Will Lowe, 413.5; 4. (tie) Bobby Mote and Kelly Timberman, 411.5; 6. Dusty LaValley, 406; 7. (tie) Wes Stevenson and Joe Gunderson, 403.5; 9. Jason Havens, 401.5; 10. Steven Peebles, 399; 11. Clint Cannon, 398; 12. Kaycee Feild, 337 on four; 13. D.V. Fennell, 302; 14. Matt Bright, 243 on three; 15. Ryan Gray, 76.5 on one.
Steer wrestling:1. Ethen Thouvenell, Napa, Calif., 3.7 seconds, $17,512; 2. Dean Gorsuch, Gering, Neb., 3.8, $13,840; 3. Cody Cassidy, Donalda, Alberta, 3.9, $10,451; 4. Trevor Knowles, Mount Vernon, Ore., 4.1, $7,344; 5. Dane Hanna, Berthold, N.D., 4.3, $4,519; 6. Nick Guy, Sparta, Wis., 4.4, $2,825; 7. Kyle Hughes, Olney Springs, Colo., 4.6; 8. Todd Suhn, Hermosa, S.D., 4.7; 9. Billy Bugenig, Ferndale, Calif., 5.4; 10. Matt Reeves, Cross Plains, Texas, 5.5; 11. Josh Peek, Pueblo, Colo., 6.0; 12. Wade Sumpter, Fowler, Colo., 13.7; 13. Luke Branquinho, Los Alamos, Calif., 14.2; 14. (tie) Curtis Cassidy, Donalda, Alberta, and Jule Hazen, Ashland, Kan., NT. Average: 1. Trevor Knowles, 21.6 seconds on five head; 2. Billy Bugenig, 22.1; 3. Dane Hanna, 23.8; 4. Cody Cassidy, 24.1; 5. Dean Gorsuch, 24.3; 6. Todd Suhn, 31.6; 7. Luke Branquinho, 32.2; 8. Nick Guy, 37.3; 9. Ethen Thouvenell, 15.8 on four; 10. Kyle Hughes, 21.3; 11. Josh Peek, 21.9; 12. Matt Reeves, 22.2; 13. Wade Sumpter, 28.7; 14. Jule Hazen, 30.5 on three; 15. Curtis Cassidy, 9.7 on two.
Team roping: : 1. JoJo LeMond, Andrews, Texas/Cory Petska, Marana, Ariz., 3.6 seconds, $17,512 each; 2. Keven Daniel, Franklin, Tenn./Caleb Twisselman, Santa Margarita, Calif., 3.7, $13,840; 3. Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas/Patrick Smith, Midland, Texas, 3.8, $10,451; 4. (tie) Chad Masters, Clarksville, Tenn./Jade Corkill, Fallon, Nev., and Travis Tryan, Billings, Mont./Rich Skelton, Llano, Texas, 4.0, $5,931 each; 6. Charly Crawford, Prineville, Ore./Russell Cardoza, Terrebonne, Ore., 4.7, $2,825; 7. Luke Brown, Rock Hill, S.C./Martin Lucero, Stephenville, Texas, 9.0; 8. Clay Tryan, Billings, Mont./Travis Graves, Jay, Okla., 13.9; 9. (tie) Turtle Powell, Stephenville, Texas/Broc Cresta, Santa Rosa, Calif.; Britt Williams, Hammond, Mont./Bobby Harris, Gillette, Wyo.; Brady Tryan, Huntley, Mont./Jake Long, Coffeyville, Kan.; Colby Lovell, Madisonville, Texas/Kory Koontz, Sudan, Texas; Derrick Begay, Seba Dalkai, Ariz./Cesar de la Cruz, Tucson, Ariz.; Ty Blasingame, Ramah, Colo./Cody Hintz, Spring Creek, Nev.; and Nick Sartain, Yukon, Okla./Kollin VonAhn, Durant, Okla., NT. Average: 1. Trevor Brazile/Patrick Smith, 21.4 seconds on five head; 2. Luke Brown/Martin Lucero, 32.6; 3. Clay Tryan/Travis Graves, 35.3; 4. Charly Crawford/Russell Cardoza, 36.3; 5. Chad Masters/Jade Corkill, 41.4; 6. Turtle Powell/Broc Cresta, 22.3 seconds on four head; 7. Brady Tryan/Jake Long, 26.5; 8. Derrick Begay/Cesar de la Cruz, 27.1; 9. Keven Daniel/Caleb Twisselman, 28.4; 10. JoJo LeMond/Cory Petska, 30.7; 11. Britt Williams/Bobby Harris, 19.0 seconds on three head; 12. Travis Tryan/Rich Skelton, 7.9 seconds on two head; 13. Colby Lovell/Kory Koontz, 13.5; 14. Ty Blasingame/Cody Hintz, 19.2; 15. Nick Sartain/Kollin VonAhn, 29.7.
Saddle bronc riding::1. Jesse Wright, Millford, Utah, 89.5 points on Burch Rodeo's Lunitic Fringe, $17,512; 2. Cody DeMoss, Heflin, La., 88.5, $13,840; 3. Cort Scheer, Elsmere, Neb., 86, $10,451; 4. Heith DeMoss, Heflin, La., 85.5, $7,344; 5. J.J. Elshere, Quinn, S.D., 85, $4,519; 6. Wade Sundell, Boxholm, Iowa, 84.0, $2,825; 7. (tie) Jesse Kruse, Great Falls, Mont.; Jeff Willert, Belvidere, S.D., and Scott Miller, Boise, Idaho, 83.5; 10. Dustin Flundra, Pincher Creek, Alberta, 82.5; 11. (tie) Cody Wright, Milford, Utah, and Taos Muncy, Corona, N.M., 81.5; 13. (tie) Bradley Harter, Weatherford, Texas; Shaun Stroh, Dickinson, N.D., and Sam Spreadborough, Snyder, Texas, NS. Average: 1. Cody Wright, 422.5 points on five head; 2. Wade Sundell, 421; 3. Cody DeMoss, 405; 4. J.J. Elshere, 404.5; 5. Dustin Flundra, 394; 6. Jesse Wright, 343.5 on four; 7. Jesse Kruse, 330; 8. Cort Scheer, 324; 9. Taos Muncy, 320.5; 10. Shaun Stroh, 318.5; 11. Jeff Willert, 315.5; 12. Scott Miller, 315; 13. Heith DeMoss, 247.5 on three; 14. Bradley Harter, 232; 15. Sam Spreadborough, 153.5 on two.
Tie-down roping: 1. (tie) Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas, and Cody Ohl, Hico, Texas, 6.9 seconds, $15,676 each; 3. Stran Smith, Childress, Texas, 7.4, $10,451; 4. Jerrad Hofstetter, Portales, N.M., 7.5, $7,344; 5. Fred Whitfield, Hockley, Texas, 7.6, $4,519; 6. Shane Hanchey, Sulphur, La., 7.8, $2,825; 7. Tuf Cooper, Decatur, Texas, 7.9; 8. Joseph Parsons, Marana, Ariz., 8.1; 9. Ryan Jarrett, Summerville, Ga., 8.4; 10. Jerome Schneeberger, Ponca City, Okla., 9.3; 11. Scott Kormos, Teague, Texas, 11.1; 12. Trent Creager, Stillwater, Okla., 11.8; 13. Clif Cooper, Decatur, Texas, 13.3; 14. Tyson Durfey, Colbert, Wash., 15.6; 15. Clint Cooper, Decatur, Texas, 30.6. Average: 1. Fred Whitfield, 41.5 seconds on five head; 2. Tuf Cooper, 43.4; 3. Trevor Brazile, 45.8; 4. Shane Hanchey, 47.7; 5. Trent Creager, 49.7; 6. Joseph Parsons, 56.0; 7. Cody Ohl, 58.6; 8. Scott Kormos, 59.6; 9. Tyson Durfey, 63.0; 10. Jerome Schneeberger, 63.4; 11. Clint Cooper, 83.0; 12. Jerrad Hofstetter, 32.4 on four; 13. Ryan Jarrett, 33.8; 14. Stran Smith, Childress, Texas, 42.7; 15. Clif Cooper, 43.1.
Barrel racing: 1. Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, S.D., 13.62 seconds, $17,512; 2. Jill Moody, Letcher, S.D., 13.63, $13,840; 3. Sherry Cervi, Marana, Ariz., 13.70, $10,451; 4. Benette Barrington, Lubbock, Texas, 13.79, $7,344; 5. Brenda Mays, Terrebonne, Ore., 13.84, $4,519; 6. Sydni Blanchard, Albuquerque, N.M., 13.86, $2,825; 7. Nellie Williams, Cottonwood, Calif., 13.97; 8. Sherrylynn Johnson, Henryetta, Okla., 13.99; 9. Kelli Tolbert, Hooper, Utah, 14.03; 10. Lindsay Sears, Nanton, Alberta, 14.09; 11. (tie) Christina Richman, Glendora, Calif., and Tana Poppino, Big Cabin, Okla., 14.13; 13. Jeanne Anderson, White City, Kan., 14.21; 14. Angie Meadors, Blanchard, Okla., 18.93; 15. Brittany Pozzi, Victoria, Texas, 19.25. Average: 1. Jill Moody, 69.01 seconds on five runs; 2. Lisa Lockhart, 69.32; 3. Sherry Cervi, 69.64; 4. Sydni Blanchard, 69.65; 5. Nellie Williams, 69.83; 6. Christina Richman, 70.15; 7. Lindsay Sears, 74.32; 8. Benette Barrington, 74.80; 9. Brittany Pozzi, 75.90; 10. Kelli Tolbert, 79.18; 11. Brenda Mays, 79.70; 12. Sherrylynn Johnson, 79.87; 13. Angie Meadors, 84.42; 14. Jeanne Anderson, 85.71; 15. Tana Poppino, 61.04 on four.
Bull riding:1. J.W. Harris, Mullin, Texas, 89 points on Burch Rodeo's Velvet Revolver, $17,512; 2. Clayton Williams, Carthage, Texas, 85.5, $13,840; 3. Corey Navarre, Weatherford, Okla., 84, $10,451; no other qualified rides. Average: 1. J.W. Harris, 354.5 points on four head; 2. Cody Whitney, 334.5; 3. Kanin Asay, 261 points on three head; 4. Clayton Williams, 253; 5. D.J. Domangue, 176 points on two head; 6. Corey Navarre, 169.5; 7. Wesley Silcox, 166; 8. Chad Denton, 162.5; 9. Dustin Elliott, 158; 10. Bobby Welsh, 87 points on one head; 11. Steve Woolsey, 86; 12. Shawn Hogg, 85.5; 13. Seth Glause, 85; 14. Tyler Smith, 80.5; 15. Ardie Maier, 80.