Tonight Las Vegas turned into Cowboy Town as the 2016 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo kicked off inside of the Thomas & Mack Center on the University of Nevada – Las Vegas campus! Even before the action began down inside of the arena the excitement and energy around town was all too familiar as we spend the next ten days determining who will take home each of the eight World Championship titles that are up for grabs here in Sin City. Night number one was about to kick off in grand style as the cowboys and cowgirls compete for the prize money, the gold buckles and the world title championships.
The early story of the week is that of the amount of contestants making their own Wrangler National Finals Rodeo debuts and the close attention that will be placed upon seeing how they respond to the pressure that will be placed upon them. Round one will surely tell us, for the most part, how things will play out for these young men and women that are competing inside the Thomas & Mack for the first time in their professional rodeo careers. That being said, the anticipation among those athletes as well as the fans rooting for them has reached an all-time high here on this fateful Thursday night!
The Top Rodeo Athletes In the World Ride In For The Grand Entry
PRCA Photo By Greg Westfall
Once the lights dimmed and the excitement gained a few notches it was time to kick off the 32nd annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo that has been held here in Las Vegas. As always, each and every round of each year begins with the grand opening ceremony and the parade of flags down on the arena. This year’s round one kicked off with the “Road To Vegas” theme that payed tribute to the grit and determination that each and every contestant displayed throughout the year to get to this night.
All that being said, this year’s round one grand entry was something that nobody in the world had ever seen before with many of the notable names missing from the record books for 2016. Although those names are missing that means that some young up and coming superstars were given the chance to compete here these next ten days. As the cowboys and cowgirls headed down the alley way into the arena the smiles and nerves were running wild as the first grand entry of the 2016 WNFR was set to begin!
Tanner Aus Earns The Round One Win At The 2016 WNFR
PRCA Photo By Greg Westfall
The first event of the night would be non other than the rough stock event of Bareback Riding where, traditionally, Kaycee Feild has usually been a household name. This year, as in most of the events, will be much different and will allow many guys the chance to earn a ton of money and a shot at a world championship title. A young man named Wyatt Denny who would kick off this year’s festivities with a much needed 81.50 point ride to shake off the nerves. This year the number one man coming into tonight’s first round of competition would be the Iowa cowboy Tim O’Connell who would be able to put up an 83 point ride here tonight.
Although O’Connell put up a solid score there was another man who would collect the first go-round gold buckle presented by Montana Silversmiths at the South Point later tonight. That man would be Tanner Aus who would manage to pair up with Cervi Championship Rodeo’s Rodeo Houston Control Freak for a round winning 85.50 point ride. I was able to catch up with him following his round winning ride to see what he had to say about his first nod of the 2016 WNFR and how he feels heading into the next nine grueling rounds of competition.
Clayton Haas Splits The Win In Round One Of The 2016 WNFR
PRCA Photo By Greg Westfall
In the second event of the performance it was time for the big boys of the sport that we all call Steer Wrestling to take center stage. As all of you know, if you have ever watched a Wrangler National Finals Rodeo performance before, the timed events prove themselves difficult on the contestants here in Las Vegas year in and year out. That was proven to be wrong tonight as these fifteen guys came in with nerves of steel and managed to pull off one of the best first rounds that I have seen in quite a few years.
Tonight there were absolutely no broken barriers and only a few slip ups once the cowboys dismounted from their horses. In a blazing start to the 2016 WNFR we saw some of the fastest times ever laid down on the arena floor during any of the first round performances in the past. After all was said and done it was going to be Clayton Haas Tyler Waguespack who would lay down astounding 3.8 second runs to split the win, the paycheck and head to the South Point to see who will be the one receiving the go-round winning belt buckle! I was able to catch up with them before heading to the buckle presentation to see what they had to say about their runs that lead to a split of the round one win!
If round one was any indication as to what we are going to witness here in Las Vegas the next nine nights are going to be absolutely crazy and those here in attendance will witness record breaking performances. A huge night tonight is setting up tomorrow night’s second round and tightening up all of the world championship title races from an early start, something that we have not seen this early in a WNFR in a very long time. The Rodeo Round Up will be here to cover everything that happens inside and outside of the arena!
We know that there are many folks who would like to know the winners of all seven of the events here on a nightly basis so we have decided to update you on the round standings as well as the average standings here in Las Vegas. Each night we will update you with the current round winner, the overall average leader and the round by round world title leader so you can all keep up to date with any changes throughout the event. Below is a list of each round winner as well as the overall average leader through each round.
Round One Winner – Tanner Aus (85.50)
Average Leader – Tanner Aus (85.50)
World Title Leader – Tim O’Connell
Round One Winners – Clayton Hass & Tyler Waguespack (3.8 Seconds)
Average Leaders – Clayton Hass & Tyler Waguespack (3.8 Seconds)
World Title Leader – Tyler Waguespack
Round One Winners – Levi Simpson & Jeremy Buhler (4.4 Seconds)
Average Leaders – Levi Simpson & Jeremy Buhler (4.4 Seconds)
World Title Leaders – Kaleb Driggers & Junior Nogueira
SADDLE BRONC RIDING
Round One Winner – Ryder Wright – (87.5)
Average Leader – Ryder Wright – (87.5)
World Title Leader – Jacobs Crawley
Round One Winner – Shane Hanchey (7.1 Seconds)
Average Leader – Shane Hanchey (7.1 Seconds)
World Title Leader – Marcos Costa
Round One Winner – Pamela Capper (13.75 Seconds)
Average Leader – Pamela Capper (13.75 Seconds)
World Title Leader – Mary Burger
Round One Winner – Sage Kimzey (86.50)
Average Leader – Sage Kimzey (86.50)
World Title Leader – Sage Kimzey
As we look forward to the next nine nights of competition we would like to hear from you as to what you would like to see covered. Please feel free to utilize the phone number below or contact us via any of our social media platforms. We would love to include some interviews and footage that all of you would like to see along with any questions that you may have for your favorite professional rodeo athletes that are here at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
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 at @rodeoroundup and on 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!