LAS VEGAS (PRCA) – As brothers, tie-down ropers Clint, Clif and Tuf Cooper share numerous things, including spots in this year’s Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, and now the trio can add go-round championship buckles to the list. Clint, the eldest of ProRodeo Hall of Famer Roy Cooper’s sons, joined his brothers as round winners at this year’s $5.875 million Wrangler NFR by tying five-time World Champion Tie-Down Roper Cody Ohl for the Round 4 victory with a 7.1-second run.
Wrangler NFR rookie Clif Cooper won Round 1, while Tuf – last year’s Wrangler NFR average champion – took the go-round buckle in the third round. Clint Cooper and Ohl finished one-tenth of a second ahead of Stran Smith to share the round win, and each earned $15,676 in the process.
“I knew the calf was going to be fast handling,” said Clint Cooper, who is riding the 2010 AQHA/PRCA Tie-Down Roping Horse of the Year Sweetness. “I missed (the barrier) a tick, and Sweetness made up all the ground. Sweetness did everything for me. He set up the whole run for me.”
The eldest Cooper was thrilled to join his brothers as round winners in Las Vegas this year.
“First of all, to make history with all three of us being here, I’m just privileged and honored and blessed,” he said. “Shoot, after Clif won the first round in 7.8 and Tuf was 6.9, I was thinking, ‘Please God, I need to get to that South Point (winner’s stage) somehow.’”
The Cooper victories mark the first time since 1991 that a set of three brothers each won rounds at the Wrangler NFR. Dan, Billy and Robert Etbauer all won rounds at the same NFR twice (1989, 1991).
Ohl, who has 16 Wrangler NFR qualifications, has now won at least a share of Round 4 on four different occasions during his career.
“It was great,” Ohl said of his run. “That first round, I tried to get the start like I do normally. The first three rounds are usually the softest, so a guy tries to get on a roll. I got the barrier on the first one, then got a couple calves that were stronger. I placed on the second one; not really the run I really wanted, but I got good money out of it.”
The other three-brother set of Wrangler NFR contestants at this year’s Finals – team roping headers Clay, Travis and Brady Tryan – can also boast the feat of winning round buckles in Las Vegas. Brady Tryan and fellow Wrangler NFR rookie Jake Long improved on their second-place finish in the third round with a win in Round 4 thanks to a blistering 3.5-second run. That mark – which is just two-tenths of a second off the world record – was two-tenths of a second better than the time of Derrick Begay and Cesar de la Cruz and moved both cowboys past the $100,000 mark in season earnings.
Brady Tryan joined Travis, who has won 12 rounds at the Wrangler NFR, and Clay, who has seven round victories, as a go-round champion in Las Vegas.
“It’s indescribable,” Tryan said. “It’s the coolest feeling I’ve ever had in my entire life.
It still hasn’t really shaken off; I’m still shaking right now.”
Long has $101,028 in season earnings, while Tryan now has $104,220. The run was the quickest the teammates have ever clocked together.
“We were 3.6 right before we came out here,” Long said. “I think I was shocked for just a split second. I mean, it felt fast, I knew we made a good run, but it took a second to kick in. Once it did, it was amazing. To be able to do well a couple nights, I’m finally getting those goose bumps for real. It takes the pressure off to catch a couple.”
Steer wrestler Matt Reeves tied Round 1 winner Billy Bugenig for the fastest bulldogging run of this year’s Wrangler NFR, stopping the clock in 3.4 seconds to take the fourth-round buckle. He was two-tenths of a second faster than Colorado cowboy Wade Sumpter and added $17,512 to his bottom line.
“I was pretty sure I had a good one when people were telling me how well I drew before I got up there to see the draw,” said Reeves, who was kept out of the pay window in the first three rounds. “Billy Bugenig ran that steer in the first round and hammered him. He made a good run. I knew I could be aggressive at the start, and he was really good on the ground. It was exciting to draw him, and I’m glad I did my job.
“Getting a check was a huge relief. Waiting four rounds to do it was hard on me.”
Fourteen-time Wrangler NFR qualifier Todd Suhn took over the lead in the steer wrestling world standings after following his third-round victory with a sixth-place finish in Round 4. A $2,825 check in the fourth round pushed him past Canada’s Curtis Cassidy; Suhn leads with $122,127, while Cassidy has $121,018 with six rounds remaining.
Bareback rider Kaycee Feild took a victory lap for the second time in four days after spurring Carr Pro Rodeo’s Out A Sight for 87 points. The Payson, Utah, cowboy edged Clint Cannon and Steven Peebles by a half-point to earn the $17,512 first-place check.
“It feels awesome,” said Feild, the son of ProRodeo Hall of Famer Lewis Feild. “I came in really low in the standings and had some ground to gain. I’m off to a good start in catching those guys, but they’re riding well, too. So, I just need to keep riding well.”
Sunday night was Wrangler Patriot Night, and Feild’s victory was fitting considering he went on a goodwill tour of Afghanistan and Kuwait in May. Some of the soldiers he met there were in attendance at the Thomas & Mack Center during Round 4.
“It was way cool,” said Feild, who is tied with Steven Dent for the average lead with 337 points on four head. “I went to lunch with a lot of those guys today, and they said, ‘We’ll all go on stage with you tonight when you get your (round winner’s) buckle.’ I said I would try my hardest, and it ended up being like this, so that’s pretty fun.”
Bull rider Kanin Asay joined Feild and Wright as two-time go-round winners at this year’s Wrangler NFR after winning for the second consecutive night. Asay, the runner-up to J.W. Harris for the world title last year, rode Four L & Diamond S Rodeo’s Foolish Pride for 88.5 points to edge Wrangler NFR rookie Cody Whitney for the second straight round.
Whitney, who finished second in both the second and third rounds and is the only cowboy to ride his first four bulls, was one point behind Asay with his score on Four L & Diamond S Rodeo’s Mission Accomplished.
“He would have a higher degree of difficulty than a bull that has a set pattern because he’s moving forward and changing leads,” Asay, who won the Wrangler NFR average last year, said of Foolish Pride. “My dad and mom (Mike and Kim), they always told when I was riding steers in junior rodeo to be consistent and let the winning take care of itself. I only control what I can control. I really look at each round separately. Now, tonight is in the past. I’m going to try to not think about what I’ve done or what I have to do.”
Asay’s consecutive wins moved him to second in the world standings behind 2007 World Champion Wesley Silcox and into third place in the Wrangler NFR average.
In the saddle bronc riding, Wade Sundell ended Cody Wright’s two-round winning streak by edging the 2008 world champion and 2005 World Champion Jeff Willert by a half-point in Round 4. Sundell, of Boxholm, Iowa, rode Cervi Championship Rodeo’s Party Shop for 85 points to win $17,512 and gain ground on Wright, who holds the No. 1 spot in the PRCA World Standings heading into Round 5.
“I’m pretty confident right now, and the main thing is that I’m just trying to have as much fun as I can possibly have, and whatever happens, happens,” said Sundell, who has placed in three of four rounds in Las Vegas so far. “I set my goal high the first time I came here: to win five round buckles. That’s the goal I set again this year.
It may not work out, but I have that as a goal, and I hope I reach it.”
Wright, the Wrangler NFR average leader, has earned $50,841 in four days in the Thomas & Mack Center.
Angie Meadors, competing in her first Wrangler NFR since 1996, won the barrel racing in Round 4 with a 13.68-second run, one-hundredth of a second faster than Sydni Blanchard and Kelli Tolbert.
Meadors, who knocked over barrels during her first two runs, earned her first check and a good deal of confidence, as well.
She switched from her main horse, Fanny, to a 7-year-old gray mare named Mulberry for Round 3, and it paid off a night later.
“She’s a very fast horse,” Meadors, a six-time Wrangler NFR qualifier, said of Mulberry. “I’ve been on a lot of great horses, but she’s one of the greatest athletes I’ve ever swung a leg over. She’s by Marthas Six Moons, which is the same sire to Lindsay Sears’ horse, Martha. I’ve only been riding her a year and-a-half.
“It feels great to be back here (at the Wrangler NFR). The only thing that changed is the money is better, and I’m old enough to gamble.”