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Competitors with Wyoming ties look to punch tickets to National Finals Rodeo

Competitors with Wyoming ties look to punch tickets to National Finals Rodeo

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The dust hasn’t completely settled yet, but a number of cowboys — and one cowgirl — with Wyoming ties should be headed to Vegas for the season-ending National Finals Rodeo in December. The 2021 season concludes Thursday, after which the top 15 competitors in each event will have qualified for the NFR.

The contingent will be comprised of two cowboys and one cowgirl that are Wyoming natives and four others who attended college in the Cowboy State.

  • Hillsdale saddle bronc rider Brody Cress, who won NFR average titles in 2017 and ‘19, is currently No. 3 in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world standings with more than $141,000 for the season. This will be the fifth consecutive year he has qualified for the NFR.
  • Kaycee bareback bronc rider Cole Reiner, who also attended Sheridan College and Casper College, is eighth in the world standings and is looking for his second consecutive trip to the NFR.
  • Gillette’s Amanda Welsh is sixth in barrel racing. She last qualified for Vegas in 2016.

Cowboys who rodeoed at a Wyoming junior college expected to compete in Vegas are:

  • Saddle bronc rider Zeke Thurston (Sheridan College), who was the world champ in both 2016 and ‘19. This will be his seventh consecutive trip to the NFR.
  • Former Casper College team roper Trey Yates is seventh in the heeling standings. Yates won both the College National Finals Rodeo and the NFR average title in 2018.
  • Bull rider Shane Proctor, who competed at Northwest College in Powell, is 10th in the world standings. Proctor has qualified for the NFR four previous times, but this will be his first since 2016.
  • Former Sheridan College and Casper College roughstock cowboy K’s Thomson is in position to make his first trip to Vegas as he is currently 15th in the saddle bronc standings. Through Monday, Thomson had just a $173 lead on No. 16 Cody DeMers.

Casper brothers and former T-Birds Kellan and Carson Johnson came up just short in qualifying for their first NFR. The team ropers, who had climbed inside the top 15 in August, finished Monday 22nd (Kellan, heading) and 20th (Carson, heeling), respectively, in the world standings.

Utah’s Stetson Wright, who set a PRCA regular-season record by winning more than $320,000 in the all-around, also enters the NFR atop the saddle bronc standings and is No. 2 in bull riding behind six-time world champ Sage Kimzey. Other event leaders through Monday were: Tilden Hooper in bareback, Jacob Talley in steer wrestling, Shane Hanchey in tie-down roping, Dustin Egusquiza (heading) and Junior Nogueira (heeling) in team roping and Hailey Kinsel in barrel racing.

After last year’s NFR was moved to Arlington, Texas, because of the pandemic, this year’s event returns to Thomas & Mack Stadium on Dec. 2-11.


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Sports editor

Jack Nowlin returned to the Star-Tribune in 2007 after eight years covering Michigan State University athletics. A Wyoming native, and a graduate of Jeffrey City High School and the University of Wyoming, Jack serves as the Star-Tribune’s sports editor.

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