This week has been great for some of the contestants within the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association but there are a few that would like to forget this week ever happened. As we inch closer to finalizing the roster for those cowboys and cowgirls that will be making their way to Las Vegas this coming December things are quickly falling into place. Some have done all but secure their spot while many others are within distance of the top 15 in the world who will compete for the world championship title.
It is already apparent that the faces will have a different feel around down for 10 days once all eyes turn to Las Vegas. Many young up and coming superstars will have their first experience of riding in the grand entry at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo as they compete for huge amounts of cash and the coveted gold and silver Montana Silversmith belt buckles that come with each round win. That being said it will be an interesting year to see how this new dynamic will play out inside of the Thomas & Mack Arena.
This last weekend the Wrangler Champions Challenge ascended upon Kennewick, Washington and the Tri-Cities area for a team play format. This was a great event to have as part of the Horse Heaven Round Up which paired many of the top rodeo athletes against each other in all seven of the classic rodeo events. With that said there were a couple stand out performances that could not go unnoticed both from up and comers to seasoned PRCA rodeo competitors.
In the tie-down roping event it was a 24 year-old Nebraska cowboy that raised some eyebrows and did all but guarantee his spot at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Riley Pruitt moved up two spots in the WEATHERGUARD World Standings to Sixth Place. He talked about his huge week by saying, “Everything is so much nicer this year – it was a big year for me, and not just rodeo.” He went on to say, “I’m marrying a beautiful woman, and we just recently bought a house, so rodeo hasn’t always been the top thing on my mind, which has helped this season.”
On the other end of the spectrum seasoned steer wrestler K.C. Jones made his mark in the Evergreen state by taking the victory at the Wrangler Champions Challenge as well. Although he has had some ups and downs that include some nagging injuries Jones is ready for his 10th appearance at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. “”I always like the bulldogging up in the Northwest, and this was a great event with a good crowd,” Jones said. “It’s a bit disappointing because I haven’t done very well at these Champions Challenge events this season, but this is a big win, and I’m grateful to be going down the rodeo road.” Needless to say I don’t think we need to talk about his chance being in jeopardy this year as he has his sights set on heading to Las Vegas this December!
Along with the excitement of this last week there is one tragic injury that we need to bring to the forefront. One of the most loved saddle bronc rider in the world had his 2016 Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association season come to an abrupt end earlier this week. Rusty Wright was competing at the Kitsap Stampede in Bremerton, Washington where he fractured his leg which he had immediate surgery on that night at a local hospital. Although his season is officially over that does not mean you will not see him in Las Vegas competing at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Wright, who is 20 years-old, has a fantastic outlook on his prognosis and he talked about it after his successful surgery saying, “I broke my tibia and fibula, and it was an open fracture because my bones went outside the skin.” He went on to say, “I also know I had to get a rod put in my leg.” Sitting second in the world standings secures his spot at the WNFR but many were skeptical on if he would be able to attend this year or not. He addressed the elephant in the room by simply stating, “I should be back for the Finals.” He also addressed his injury saying, “I’m just going to try and heal up, and if I’m ready, I’m ready, and if not, I’m not. It’s a little frustrating, but everything happens for a reason. I must have needed some time off, and now I have it.”
It is quite easy to follow all the breaking news and excitement with the Rodeo Round Up simply by copying this website into your favorites in your web browser for easy one-click access to event statistics. You can also like and follow us on Facebook here, or by liking and following us on Instagram and/or Twitter at @therodeoroundup. Jason has also made it easy for you to be a part of his interviews by opening up a listener comment line. If you have a question for a certain rodeo star simply call in and leave your name, where you are from, who the question is for and what your question is and he will do his best to get it answered for you during his interviews!