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Brazile Captures 23rd World Championship
By Justin Shaw, PRCA
LAS VEGAS - Trevor Brazile won his 23rd world championship Tues. Dec. 8, and he did it in style.
The Decatur, Texas, cowboy clinched the 13th gold all-around buckle of his career when he won the tie-down roping in Round 6 with a 6.6-second run at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
The lightning bolt of a run broke the previous Round 6 record of 6.9 seconds, and was just one-tenth of a second off the arena record time of 6.5 seconds set by Cody Ohl in 2003.
“Rodeo has been so good to me,” Brazile said. “The fans are awesome. I just love everything about the sport and the industry more than anything. It's just a way of life.”
Entering the night, Brazile just needed to out-earn team roper JoJo LeMond to clinch the all-around gold buckle. He left no doubt with the dominating tie-down roping run.
Brazile moved from sixth to second in the tie-down roping world standings, and trails brother-in-law Tuf Cooper by less than $9,000. Brazile sits fourth in the average race, and if the rodeo ended right now would be collecting gold buckle No. 24.
“I'm as pumped about the 6.6 as I was the all-around championship, because I was close in the calf roping (standings), and good in the average,” Brazile said. “Usually the position I come in the all-around doesn't allow me to take chances and risks like that, but now I'm trying to win that calf roping world championship. When you're protecting a lead sometimes you don't get to do stuff like that. I've got ground to make up.”
The 6.6 also was Brazile's personal-best WNFR tie-down roping time, surpassing his previous top time of 6.7 seconds when he won Round 7 in 2007.
Aaron Tsinigine and Ryan Motes were the first team roping pair to rope in Round 6, and they took that opportunity to put themselves firmly in the world championship race.
They clocked a 3.9-second time, which was duplicated by Nick Sartain and eight-time World Champion Team Roper Rich Skelton. For Tsinigine and Motes, it was their third round win in six nights at the WNFR.
With the two teams at the top of the world standings - Derrick Begay and Clay O'Brien Cooper, and Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill - both failing to earn a check, Tsinigine moved to second in the world heading standings and Motes moved to third on the heeling side. They're currently second in the WNFR average.
"We were the first team out tonight, and it was an exceptional way to start the round," Motes said. "It's pretty easy to be happy about winning three of the first six rounds. It's extremely exciting to rope against the best there is. I get to go toe-to-toe with my heroes here. Clay and Rich are the two guys I idolized growing up. They're the two greatest who ever lived. This is a dream come true."
The 3.9 was Tsinigine's best WNFR time ever, and was the second-best time for Motes. Tsinigine roped the steer fast, and had full confidence that Motes would finish the run and earn the pair a big check.
“I scored that steer the best I could, got it on him and Ryan did what he does,” Tsinigine said. “I never have to worry about Ryan back there. The money's so great here this year, and I came here to win money because this is my job. So I'm just trying to win money every night. The way the rounds pay now you can't afford to back off.”
For Sartain and Skelton, splitting the round win was a welcomed change to the way the WNFR had been going. They placed in the first two rounds, but didn't earn a check in the last three.
“We hadn't made an awesome run yet here this week, so it's good to get one we can be proud of under our belts,” Sartain said. “We didn't have an awesome first half here this year, but Rich is such a veteran and such a champ. He never gets rattled and he always stays upbeat about it. That way we're ready to win when things do turn around and go our way.”
Steer wrestler Clayton Hass entered the WNFR with a small lead in the world standings, but found himself in fourth place at the halfway point of the rodeo. He won Round 3, but didn't earn a check in the other rounds and missed his steer in Round 4. Tonight, Hass took his second victory lap in four nights with a 3.5-second time, and put himself right back into the world title conversation.
“I got a great start (in Round 4) and the steer didn't go anywhere," Hass said. "It just didn't come together and I missed him. Looking back, there are always things I could've done a little different, but the only thing that matters is the next one and I had to let that one go.”
He let it go in a big way, and the $26,231 he earned tonight put him in second place in the world, just $103 behind new standings leader Hunter Cure. Hass says his first WNFR trip in 2014 helped him deal with adversity this year.
“I think the experience from last year (has helped), and I'm riding my horse (Cadillac) better this year,” he said. “I know the situation a little better, and I dang sure went and practiced and I bore down and tried to get ready before I got here. Last year was nerve-wracking, getting used to the electricity in the building. I learned a lot from last year, and I just went in there (tonight) and took a deep breath.”
Ty Erickson broke the barrier tonight and fell from first to third in the world standings, but is still within $427 of Cure. The 10-second penalty dropped Erickson from first to eighth in the steer wrestling average.
With the world saddle bronc riding standings so wide open, Isaac Diaz just needed one victory lap to give himself a shot at his first gold buckle. He got it tonight.
Diaz rode for 83 points on The Cervi Brothers Rodeo's Vitalix Hell's Fire Hostage to win Round 6 and move to fifth in the world. More importantly, he's less than $34,000 behind world standings leader Jacobs Crawley.
“It has been an indescribable year,” Diaz said. “I've drawn good all year, and it feels great right now.”
The win wasn't just big for the 29-year-old's chances at this year's WNFR - it also got the monkey off his back over never winning a go-round in Las Vegas.
“It's been eight years, five NFRs and 46 rounds, but it sure seems worth it now,” Diaz said. “I knew I'd never had a great Finals before, and that tries to get in your head. It had gotten to the point where I was reliving each horse, trying to figure if I'd had a shot to win, and there were a few where I thought I did.”
Jacobs Crawley failed to earn a check tonight, but remained in the world standings lead by a little more than $3,000 over Cody DeMoss. Wade Sundell sits third in the world and first in the WNFR average race.
Bareback rider Jake Brown had big expectations for his first trip to the WNFR, as he entered Las Vegas ranked third in the world standings.
However, after failing to get a score on four of his first five horses, Brown was out of the world title and WNFR average races. At this point, he's going for as much money as he can the last five rounds, and he's off to a good start. Brown took the Round 6 win - the first WNFR go-round buckle of his career - with an 85.5-point ride on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo's Painted River.
“Winning a go-round at the WNFR is a dream come true,” the 25-year-old said. “I was scared to death to take the victory lap because I was so nervous. I didn't want to be the guy who falls off during his victory lap. It's been a rough week, but I'm letting it all hang out now.”
The battle at the top of the world bareback riding standings saw no new action tonight, as Kaycee Feild and Steven Peebles both failed to earn a check. Feild's lead remains more than $19,000, but Peebles remains No. 1 in the WNFR average.
Peebles also held his lead in the RAM Top Gun standings with $108,683, which is about $13,000 ahead of barrel racer Lisa Lockhart.
While Lisa Lockhart currently has a strong hold on the race for the barrel racing gold buckle, Sarah Rose McDonald is doing her best to put some pressure on Lockhart.
McDonald won her second go-round in three nights when she split the Round 6 victory with Taylor Jacob after both finished with runs of 13.91 seconds.
“My horse (Bling) had a little stumble on the first (barrel) but she seemed to just keep on going and not let it bother her too much,” McDonald said. “She tries very hard. When I felt her slip I just thought I needed to put an extra little kick in there.”
McDonald trails Lockhart by $26,000 in the standings, but Lockhart also leads the WNFR average.
For Jacob, it was the fourth straight night she's earned a check and her second win in those four runs. She credits her horse, Bo, for the victory.
“Bo doesn't know the word quit,” Jacob said. “He has a lot of heart. This was the performance that I set the arena record in 2013, so repeating with the win tonight makes me very happy.”
Bull rider Brett Stall was bucked off his first four bulls at the 2015 WNFR, and while he didn't earn a check for his successful ride in Round 5, the confidence he gained led to a Round 6 victory. Stall rode for 87 points on Championship Pro Rodeo's Gold Buckle to take the second WNFR victory lap of his career - he also won Round 7 in 2012.
“I had a little bit of a rocky start, but this one really felt good,” Stall said. “It's a long 10 days here in Vegas and I'm just going to try to ride the rest of them. We get 10 opportunities, and I want to make the most of it.”
Defending World Champion Bull Rider Sage Kimzey placed third in Round 6, and remains the world standings leader with $229,870. While Kimzey is second in the WNFR average, 2012 World Champ Cody Teel is making things interesting. Teel leads the average and finished second tonight, which has him less than $55,000 away from Kimzey. Teel is the only man who has covered five of six bulls so far, with all five rides earning a check.
The 57th annual Wrangler NFR continues Wednesday with the seventh round at the Thomas & Mack Center. The action will be televised live and in HD on CBS Sports Net (DirecTV channel 221 and DISH Network channel 158) from 7-10 p.m. PT.
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