Following Wednesday night’s performance at the 2018 College National Finals Rodeo, Thomas Davis gingerly held his left hand close to his belt buckle.
The Osage native walked among the chutes of Casper Events Center with his elbow bent and hand mangled.
His bareback riding rig has been tighter than others. Over time, that’s carved up his non-dominant hand. By the end of Wednesday night his left hand was broken between his thumb and index finger. A nickle-sized gash below the middle finger remained, along with a trail of dried blood that ran to the finger’s nail.
“Nothing you can’t get by,” Davis described the pain. “It’s a little sore once in awhile but you forget about it when you run your hand in and you don’t remember it until about two hours later when all the adrenaline crashes.”
Davis got bucked off in his bareback ride Wednesday night. He walked off the dirt while barely moving his left hand. About 45 minutes later he logged a 4.8-second run in the steer wrestling, enough to move him into fourth on the average with a three-head time of 15.4 seconds. East Mississippi Community College’s Tristan Martin still leads with a 12.7.
Having been in the running following his first two go-rounds, Davis knew a consistent score on Wednesday night could do him wonders. And it did.
“I just knew I had to come out and make a solid run, make it smooth, nothing fast,” Davis said. “I needed to just be me and make a good run and I did.”
The freshman has relied on his teammates as a support group. Fellow Rustler and Douglas native Taylor Davidson hazes for him.
“Being a freshman that’s what I was concerned about, my nerves,” Davis said. “As big of a rodeo as this is, I think I’ve handled myself pretty good with the nerves and everything, keeping myself calmed down. Those guys have helped me keep me calm and keep me moving on with what I’m doing and solid with what I’ve been doing.”
The former state champion nose tackle and fullback for Upton-Sundance is done in the bareback but he’s on the inside track to bulldog on Saturday.
Missouri Valley College standout Kirbie Crouse still stands at the top of the average but Central Arizona’s Lakota Bird moved into second on Wednesday after a 2.6 in the third go. She now has 8.2 on average behind Crouse’s 7.8.
Wednesday, the patience exhibited by Bird and her horse, Dynamite, was rewarded.
The Central Arizona standout knew which calf she drew and watched it in a previous run. During that run the calf dropped its head. Even while Bird waited in the box, the calf dropped its head.
“I was sitting there for a long time so I wanted to reset my horse to make sure he was good,” Bird said. “My horse was great for me, I just wanted to make sure that calf was looking straight so that when I nodded he would start.”
She did feel the extra pressures of delivering in her third go after two consistent runs. She also said that because of the hard work exerted in practice she wanted to be sure to capitalize on opportunities like the CNFR.
She’s a Saturday short go away from winning the biggest prize in college rodeo.
Gillette College’s Rickie Engesser sits fourth in the average after a 2.9 on Wednesday.
“I was really nervous going into this run so just getting my third one down calmed the nerves,” Engesser said. ‘It felt good to get this one done and I can kind of relax a little bit.
No teams on Wednesday threatened the top of the average standings. The Central Arizona College duo of Cole Sherwood and Clay Elkington remained safe with a 19.3 on three head.
Casper College’s Trey Yates and Gillette College’s Kellan Johnson remained second.
Texas Tech’s Shane Knerr remained on the top of the tie-down following Wednesday’s performance. He said later in the night that there are ropers going on Thursday and Friday that could knock him from the top spot.
Kynzie McNeill of Texas Tech leads the average with 43.29 on three and Odessa College’s Maddy Dickens remains second after Wednesday. Gillette College’s Riley Addington sits in fourth.
Cochise College’s Maddee Doerr still leads the way with a 19.3 on average and Cal Poly’s Courtney Wood still sits tied with South Plains’ Jenna Dallyn for second at 20.0.