Countdown to the WNFR-conclusion

A Pinch of Rodeo

By Joe R. Nichols

Countdown to the WNFR-conclusion

Many of you might be surprised that I take an interest in Barrel Racing. There’s still plenty of the idiot horses around that gave Barrel Racers a bad reputation, but most of them these days are trained. I like to watch good horses no matter the discipline, and the Barrel Racing at the NFR is really exciting.

Sherry Cervi, Marana, AZ, leads the field. She is in the business of raising and training and in my opinion, sits a horse better than anyone else going. She leads Mary Walker of Ennis, TX, by $10,000.

Mary has an amazing life story, overcoming some personal tragedies that most of us can’t imagine. If you want to be inspired, research her. She has a big brown horse that doesn’t look like he’s running all that fast, his turns are nothing special, but he’s so consistent and he stops the clock in the money. The best part of her run is when they put the camera on her husband, Byron. He grinds his teeth, foam comes out of his mouth, and he flails around in his chair like he has rabies. He gets excited.

All these contestants are good cowgirls riding great horses, but I really think it will come down to these two ladies for the title, and that it will be close. I’ve heard Fallon Taylor has a super horse this year and she has experience, qualifying for her first NFR at 13 years old. Watch out for her. One other note, Trevor Brazile’s wife has qualified for her first Finals. I always think it’s special when spouses or family get to make the trip to the “Big Show” together.

J.W. Harris, Mullin, TX, is at the top of the leader board in the Bull Riding by $30,000. That may not be a safe lead, but it is substantial. He rides a high percentage of his bulls, so if he stays healthy, I don’t think anyone will threaten him for the title.

Another guy I will keep an eye on is Cooper Davis, a rookie who made the top 15 this year. I’ve only seen him ride a few times, but I’m impressed.

Ah, now to the classic event of rodeo. The true origin of the sport, the intellectual and sophisticated mans competition.

Cody Wright is my pick. He’ll have to beat back his two twin brothers to win it, but I still think the elder Wright is the best in the pack. He has a $20,000 lead. After the Etbauers, I didn’t think it would happen again to have three brothers in the same event the same year. But there’s a whole brood of these Wright boys in Utah, and they all ride the same. How can this be? We could see in the near future where if your last name isn’t Wright, you don’t get to go the Finals. They’re amazing.

Tyler Corrington, Hastings, MN., is in striking distance and certainly rides well enough to get it done. They all ride good or they wouldn’t be there, I’m just picking out some guys that get my attention.

Another bronc rider I like is Wade Sundell. He’s from the tall corn circuit, and sometimes I think they don’t want him to fit in. He goes 150 miles an hour every time he calls for the gate, and he is totally unconcerned. That’s my kind of bronc rider.

Thanks for reading and good luck to all the contestants. We’ll find out shortly if my predictions are valid. The first performance is Thursday, Dec.5th.

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