Cody Teel is closing in fast on his quest for a second straight world bull riding championship.
The 21-year-old won Round 8 of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo before 17,694 enthusiastic fans at the Thomas & Mack Center Thursday night and grabbed the average lead away from two-time World Champ J.W. Harris.
Harris still leads the world standings by a comfortable $37,019, but Teel could close that gap considerably with another round win plus the top average check. If he happens to win the final two rounds – yes, that would be four straight, which is unlikely – then he’d claim another gold buckle.
“I knew coming into this that I was a long shot to be able to win another gold buckle,” Teel said. “Mathematically I wasn’t, but I felt like the guys who were ahead of me would be hard to catch. My main goal was to win the Finals average and let the rest play out. It’s sure playing out right now, and I’m in good position and hoping to cover two more bulls.”
Teel, competing in his second Wrangler NFR, broke his left elbow and had surgery March 7 that required 10 screws and two plates. He was sidelined nearly three months and suffered a broken jaw shortly after returning to action. He’s competing with a metal plate in his chin.
“Obviously, at the start of this season I was wanting another gold buckle, but with the injuries this year, I’m happy to be here and in this spot,” Teel said. “I’m going for the average and if the world title comes with it, then it would be that much better.”
Teel rode for 78.5 points on JK Rodeo’s Pale Face, on a night when only three of the 15 cowboys managed to stay on for the full eight seconds.
“I never would’ve thought a 78 would win with this pen of bulls,” Teel said. “It was a great bunch of bulls that just had a bad night; you never know what’s going to happen and sometimes you get paid for just staying on. I kind of screwed it up at the end, but it still worked out.”
Teel was hanging off the side of the bull for the last few seconds of his ride, but made it to the whistle.
“The first thing I was wondering was how the heck did I get in this position?” he said. “To begin the ride, it felt great and I thought I was in total control, but by the end I was just trying to hold on and grit it out until the whistle. I guess I got a little too comfortable and lost my aggressiveness toward the end, but I got it done and it worked out.”
Teel became the second-youngest bull riding world champ last year at age 20; Bill Kornell was the youngest at age 19 in 1963.
Red-hot Jake Wright won his fourth round in eight days in the saddle bronc riding and seems poised to earn his first gold buckle. His twin brother, Jesse, claimed the world title last year and older brother Cody won the championship in 2008 and 2010.
Jake Wright is third in the average and leads the world standings with $175,535, nearly $21,000 more than runner-up Chad Ferley and third-place Cody Wright. Cort Scheer leads the average, with Jacobs Crawley second.
“If I keep doing what I’m doing I like my chances to win the world, but I have to ride well the next two nights,” Jake Wright said. “I came into this NFR just wanting to do better than I did last year, and I’ve done that. Everything else is icing on the cake from this point; I plan on doing this for a long time, so whatever happens this weekend is fine with me.”
Jake Wright shared two round wins last year and placed in two others. He’s earned $87,440 at this Finals, the most of any saddle bronc rider. He’s won four rounds here this week, and has two more shots at tying Billy Etbauer and Dan Mortensen’s record for most round wins at one NFR, which is five.
“I’m feeling good and everything has started to come together,” he said. “I have good teachers in Cody, Jesse and (older brother) Alex, and it’s great to have their support like I do. This week, it just feels like everything is rolling right. I’ve been riding well and I’ve had some good luck. I’d like to go with skill any day, but I’ll take a gold buckle because of some luck, too.
“The position I’m in feels good, but it is a little nerve-wracking too.”
Kaycee Feild, who became the third bareback rider to win back-to-back rounds, is seemingly on cruise control. He’s first in the average, first in the world standings and has smiled a lot the last two nights.
“Winning rounds here in front of 18,000 people is sweet,” he said. “Taking a victory lap and hearing them all scream is fun. I was last out and so my adrenaline was still pumping when I got on for the victory lap.”
Steven Peebles won the bareback riding in Rounds 2 and 3, while Casey Colletti was best in Rounds 5 and 6.
Feild is trying to become the first bareback rider to win three consecutive world championships since Joe Alexander won five (1971-75). Feild is also close to matching Jack Ward Jr. as the only bareback rider to win three straight average titles.
Feild leads the average with 663 points, with Steven Peebles second (653.5) and Caleb Bennett third (640). The average winner collects $47,776. Feild leads the world standings by slightly more than $25,000 over four-time World Champ Bobby Mote.
So does Feild think he’s in control of the average race or the gold buckle chase?
“No, no,” he said cautiously. “I need to win one more tomorrow – and not mess up,” he said.
Feild prevailed by riding Andrews Rodeo’s Cool Water for 83.5 points.
“I got fired up tonight seeing Bobby (Mote) had Full Baggage,” Feild said. “Steven Peebles is riding outstanding, so I knew it’d take a good ride to win. I had that horse here in 2008, and was lucky to make it to the whistle; he did a front flip right at the whistle. That’s a good horse to be on.”
Team ropers Colby Lovell and Martin Lucero won their first round of the rodeo, and earned their third check.
“It hasn’t gone great to this point,” Lovell said. “I’ve ridden two other horses and they haven’t been on top of their game. Thank God Justin (Van Davis) let me get on his horse Woody tonight. I’ve never been on Woody’s back before last night. I rode him here cold turkey. But we’ve been traveling together all year in the same truck and trailer, so I had a pretty good idea what he’d be like to ride.”
Lovell had a feeling his team’s fortunes were going to improve.
“I texted my wife before the rodeo tonight that this was our night,” he said. “Thank God I did my job.”
This is the 45-year-old Lucero’s 16th trip to the Finals.
“It’s fun to get a victory lap,” he said. “Winning never gets old.
“I’m riding Tooter, who’s the same horse I’ve ridden here the last four or five years. Justin Davis is partners with me on him, and he owns the horse Colby rode tonight. So he owns three-quarters of the horses that won the round tonight.”
If the rodeo was only eight rounds, Riley and Brady Minor would win the world team roping title. They’re second in the average and third in the world standings. Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill still lead the world standings, but had their third no-time in Round 8.
Ryan Jarrett, the 2005 world all-around champion, won the tie-down roping in 6.7 seconds, which equaled Cody Ohl’s time as the fastest of the rodeo; Ohl did it twice, in Rounds 3 and 7. That’s just two-tenths shy of Ohl’s WNFR record of 6.5 seconds, set in 2003.
“I had what ended up being a great calf,” Jarrett said. “I knew she was a little off the pace, and I wanted to give her enough head start so she was out in front of me and it worked out great.”
Jarrett shared the Round 4 win with Ohl in 6.9 seconds. He’s 10th in the average while Ohl is sixth. Shane Hanchey leads the tie-down roping average. Ohl tops the world standings, more than $20,000 ahead of two-time defending champ Tuf Cooper, who is ninth in the average.
Claiming his second round win – he also took Round 5 – was steer wrestler Hunter Cure, who moved up to fourth in the average and fourth in the world standings. He trails average leader Bray Armes by 8.9 seconds.
“I’m really behind in the average knowing I made a mistake in two rounds,” Cure said. “All I can do is push forward in these next two rounds and we will let it shake out in the end. I have to push if I want to be there at the end.”
Cure gave much of the credit to his horse, Charlie.
“I’m extremely excited about how good my horse has gotten in the box as the week has progressed,” he said. “He’s really been a game-changer for me this year.”
Matt Reeves leads the bulldogging world standings ($142,349), about $8,000 ahead of Trevor Knowles, with Casey Martin another $5,000 back.
If the rodeo ended today, Dean Gorsuch, who is second in the average and fifth in the world standings, would win his third gold bulldogging buckle.
Barrel racer Sherry Cervi claimed her third round win in 13.71 seconds. She leads the average by 1.7 seconds over Kaley Bass and tops the world standings by nearly $50,000 over defending champ Mary Walker.
Cervi has gotten a check in all eight rounds, and is trying to match Kristie Peterson’s record for earning money in all 10 rounds while also winning the average.
“I’ve only won the average here two times and I want it again,” Cervi said. “The average means a lot to me. I really want to finish what I’ve started here.”
Cervi’s in search of her fourth gold buckle.
Cervi regained the lead in the Ram Truck Top Gun Award standings with $93,850. Jake Wright is second ($87,440), followed by Ohl ($85,487) and barrel racer Taylor Jacob ($82,431).
Wrangler National Finals Rodeo
Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas – Round 8
Bareback riding: 1. Kaycee Feild, Payson, Utah, 83.5 points on Andrews Rodeo’s Cool Water, $18,630; 2. Steven Peebles, Redmond, Ore., 82.5, $14,724; 3. J.R. Vezain, Cowley, Wyo., 79, $11,118; 4. Bobby Mote, Culver, Ore., 78.5, $7,813; 5. Wes Stevenson, Lubbock, Texas, 74.5, $4,808; 6. Will Lowe, Canyon, Texas, 74, $3,005; 7. Steven Dent, Mullen, Neb., 73; 8. (tie) Ty Breuer, Mandan, N.D., and Jared Smith, Cross Plains, Texas, 71 each; 10. Clint Cannon, Waller, Texas, 70; 11. (tie) Jessy Davis, Power, Mont.; and Caleb Bennett, Morgan, Utah, 69.5 each; 13. (tie) Ryan Gray, Cheney, Wash.; Austin Foss, Terrebonne, Ore.; and Casey Colletti, Pueblo, Colo., NS.
Steer wrestling: 1. Hunter Cure, Holliday, Texas, 3.8 seconds, $18,630; 2. Matt Reeves, Cross Plains, Texas, 4.2, $14,724; 3. (tie) Trevor Knowles, Mount Vernon, Ore., and Stan Branco, Chowchilla, Calif., 4.3, $9,465 each; 5. K.C. Jones, Decatur, Texas, 4.5, $4,808; 6. Dakota Eldridge, Elko, Nev., 4.6, $3,005; 7. Luke Branquinho, Los Alamos, Calif., 4.7; 8. (tie) Tyler Pearson, Louisville, Miss., and Dean Gorsuch, Gering, Neb., 4.8 each; 10. Bray Armes, Ponder, Texas, 5.1; 11. Jule Hazen, Ashland, Kan., 7.7; 12. Wade Sumpter, Fowler, Colo., 9.8; 13. Straws Milan, Cochrane, Alberta, 9.9; 14. (tie) Casey Martin, Sulphur, La., and Jason Miller, Lance Creek, Wyo., NT.
Team roping: 1. Colby Lovell, Madisonville, Texas/Martin Lucero, Stephenville, Texas, 4.2 seconds, $18,630 each; 2. Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas/Patrick Smith, Lipan, Texas, 4.5, $14,724; 3. Kaleb Driggers, Albany, Ga./Travis Graves, Jay, Okla., 4.9, $11,118; 4. Luke Brown, Stephenville, Texas/Kollin VonAhn, Blanchard, Okla., 5.3, $7,813; 5. Drew Horner, Plano, Texas/Buddy Hawkins II, Columbus, Kan., 5.7, $4,808; 6. (tie) Derrick Begay, Seba Dalkai, Ariz./Cesar de la Cruz, Tucson, Ariz., and Justin Van Davis, Madisonville, Texas/Clay O’Brien Cooper, Gardnerville, Nev., 9.1, $1,502 each; 8. Charly Crawford, Prineville, Ore./Ryan Motes, Weatherford, Texas, 9.3; 9. Riley Minor, Ellensburg, Wash./Brady Minor, Ellensburg, Wash., 9.6; 10. Nick Sartain, Dover, Okla./Rich Skelton, Llano, Texas, 9.7; 11. Turtle Powell, Stephenville, Texas/Dugan Kelly, Paso Robles, Calif., 9.9; 12. Erich Rogers, Round Rock, Ariz./Cory Petska, Marana, Ariz., 10.2; 13. (tie) Clay Tryan, Billings, Mont./Jade Corkill, Fallon, Nev.; Brandon Beers, Powell Butte, Ore./Jim Ross Cooper, Monument, N.M.; and Dustin Bird, Cut Bank, Mont./Paul Eaves, Lonedell, Mo., NT.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Jake Wright, Milford, Utah, 85.5 points on Flying Five Rodeo’s Sundance, $18,630; 2. Taos Muncy, Corona, N.M., 84, $14,724; 3. Jesse Wright, Milford, Utah, 82, $11,118; 4. Heith DeMoss, Heflin, La., 81, $7,813; 5. Chad Ferley, Oelrichs, S.D., 80.5, $4,808; 6. (tie) Chet Johnson, Sheridan, Wyo., and Bradley Harter, Weatherford, Texas, 78.5, $1,502 each; 8. (tie) Jacobs Crawley, Stephenville, Texas, and Cole Elshere, Faith, S.D., 78; 10. Cort Scheer, Elsmere, Neb., 75; 11. Cody Wright, Milford, Utah, 71; 12. Isaac Diaz, Desdemona, Texas, 69; 13. (tie) Tyler Corrington, Hastings, Minn.; Wade Sundell, Boxholm, Iowa; and Sterling Crawley, Stephenville, Texas, NS.
Tie-down roping: 1. Ryan Jarrett, Comanche, Okla., 6.7 seconds, $18,630; 2. (tie) Tuf Cooper, Decatur, Texas, and Cody Ohl, Hico, Texas, 6.9, $12,921 each; 4. Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas, 7.0, $7,813; 5. Tyson Durfey, Colbert, Wash., 7.3, $4,808; 6. (tie) Timber Moore, Aubrey, Texas, and Shane Slack, Idabel, Okla., 7.8, $1,502 each; 8. Scott Kormos, Teague, Texas, 7.9; 9. Sterling Smith, Stephenville, Texas, 8.8; 10. Randall Carlisle, Baton Rouge, La., 9.0; 11. Shane Hanchey, Sulphur, La., 9.6; 12. Justin Maass, Giddings, Texas, 10.4; 13. Stetson Vest, Childress, Texas, 11.0; 14. (tie) Caleb Smidt, Bellville, Texas, and Clif Cooper, Decatur, Texas, NT.
Barrel racing: 1. Sherry Cervi, Marana, Ariz., 13.71 seconds, $18,630; 2. Jane Melby, Burneyville, Okla., 13.77, $14,724; 3. Shada Brazile, Decatur, Texas, 13.80, $11,118; 4. Michele McLeod, Whitesboro, Texas, 13.84, $7,813; 5. Christy Loflin, Franktown, Colo., 13.89, $4,808; 6. Kaley Bass, Kissimmee, Fla., 14.01, $3,005; 7. Brittany Pozzi, Victoria, Texas, 14.09; 8. Jean Winters, Texline, Texas, 14.17; 9. Sydni Blanchard, Albuquerque, N.M., 14.21; 10. Trula Churchill, Valentine, Neb., 18.60; 11. Taylor Jacob, Carmine, Texas, 18.73; 12. (tie) Mary Walker, Ennis, Texas, and Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, S.D., 18.84; 14. Fallon Taylor, Whitesboro, Texas, 19.03; 15. Sabrina Ketcham, Yeso, N.M., 19.32.
Bull riding: 1. Cody Teel, Kountze, Texas, 78.5 points on JK Rodeo’s Pale Face, $18,630; 2. Josh Koschel, Nunn, Colo., 70, $14,724; 3. Parker Breding, Edgar, Mont., 68.0, $11,118; 4. (tie) J.W. Harris, Mullin, Texas; Shane Proctor, Grand Coulee, Wash.;
Trevor Kastner, Ardmore, Okla.; Trey Benton III, Rock Island, Texas; Chandler Bownds, Lubbock, Texas; Cody Campbell, Summerville, Ore.; Cole Echols, Elm Grove, La.; Elliot Jacoby, Fredricksburg, Texas; Tyler Smith, Fruita, Colo.; Cooper Davis, Jasper, Texas; Steve Woolsey, Payson, Utah; and Tyler Willis, Wheatland, Wyo., NS.