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NFR overview: championships, contestants

Following are breakdowns of each championship on the line at the 2012 National Finals Rodeo, with the list of qualifiers in each event, along with overviews of each title race and event descriptions. The NFR begins its annual 10-day run on Thursday night at the Thomas & Mack Center:

ALL-AROUND COWBOY

2012 TOP CONTENDERS

1. Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas, $247,977

2. Steven Dent, Mullen, Neb., $144,465

3. Bobby Mote, Stephenville, Texas, $120,987

4. Russell Cardoza, Terrebonne, Ore., $96,289

5. Josh Peek, Pueblo, Colo., $94,668

6. Clint Robinson, Spanish Fork, Utah, $85,681

7. Dustin Bird, Cut Bank, Mont., $81,340

8. Colby Lovell, Madisonville, Texas, $79,386

9. Ryan Jarrett, Comanche, Okla., $76,774

10. Rhen Richard, Roosevelt, Utah, $74,020

11. Landon McClaugherty, Tilden, Texas, $69,086

12. Jess Tierney, Hermosa, S.D., $64,527

13. Seth Glause, Cheyenne, Wyo., $53,899

14. Curtis Cassidy, Donalda, Alberta, $52,718

15. B.J. Campbell, Aguila, Ariz., $49,721

2011 CHAMPION: Trevor Brazile

OVERVIEW: The battle for the all-around crown shapes up as more of a coronation than a competition, as six-time defending champion Trevor Brazile takes a seemingly insurmountable $103,512 lead over Steven Dent into the Finals. Brazile is gunning for his record 10th all-around title and 17th gold buckle, which would break a tie with Jim Shoulders for the most multi-event titles ever.

DESCRIPTION: The PRCA cowboy who wins the most money in a year while competing in at least two events – earning a minimum of $3,000 in the second event – wins the all-around crown. Money earned in the PRCA’s Xtreme Bulls tour does not factor into all-around money.

BAREBACK RIDING

2012 CONTESTANTS

1. Kaycee Feild, Payson, Utah, $141,639

2. Steven Dent, Mullen, Neb., $140,781

3. Will Lowe, Canyon, Texas, $127,069

4. J.R. Vezain, Cowley, Wyo., $112,337

5. Bobby Mote, Stephenville, Texas, $110,770

6. Wes Stevenson, Lubbock, Texas, $104,564

7. Jessy Davis, Power, Mont., $88,043

8. Winn Ratliff, Leesville, La., $80,266

9. Caleb Bennett, Morgan, Utah, $73,218

10. Steven Peebles, Redmond, Ore., $66,688

11. Casey Colletti, Pueblo, Colo., $66,633

12. Matt Bright, Azle, Texas, $64,480

13. Brian Bain, Culver, Ore., $58,879

14. Justin McDaniel, Porum, Okla., $58,299

15. Jared Keylon, Uniontown, Kan., $54,478

2011 CHAMPION: Kaycee Feild

OVERVIEW: Reigning world champion Kaycee Feild will try to maintain his slim $858 lead over Steven Dent – a five-time NFR qualifier gunning for his first title – in a talented field featuring three other world champs: Will Lowe (2003, 2005-06); Bobby Mote (2002, 2007, 2009, 2010); and Justin McDaniel (2008).

DESCRIPTION: A bareback rider begins his ride with feet placed above the break of the horse’s shoulder. If the cowboy’s feet are not in the correct position when the horse hits the ground on its first jump out of the chute, the cowboy has failed to "mark out" the horse properly, and his ride gets no score.

Throughout the eight-second ride, the cowboy must grasp the rigging (a hand-hold made of leather and rawhide) with only one hand.

The rider is judged on his control and spurring technique. He is disqualified if he touches his equipment, his body or the animal with his free hand.

The horse’s performance accounts for half the total score.

STEER WRESTLING

2012 CONTESTANTS

1. Ethen Thouvenell, Napa, Calif., $98,695

2. Wade Sumpter, Fowler, Colo., $88,275

3. Dean Gorsuch, Gering, Neb., $87,209

4. Luke Branquinho, Los Alamos, Calif., $85,345

5. Matt Reeves, Cross Plains, Texas, $75,871

6. Trevor Knowles, Mount Vernon, Ore., $75,834

7. Casey Martin, Sulphur, La., $71,055

8. Gabe Ledoux, Kaplan, La., $66,933

9. Todd Suhn, Hermosa, S.D., $66,136

10. K.C. Jones, Decatur, Texas, $64,653

11. Les Shepperson, Midwest, Wyo., $63,779

12. Billy Bugenig, Ferndale, Calif., $60,591

13. Beau Clark, Belgrade, Mont., $52,821

14. Tom Lewis, Lehi, Utah, $48,014

15. Bray Armes, Gruver, Texas, $45,852

2011 CHAMPION: Luke Branquinho

OVERVIEW: Ethen Thouvenell grabbed the world lead in February and never let go, winning six rodeos to take a $10,420 edge over Wade Sumpter.

Thouvenell, gunning for his first world title in his third NFR appearance, will try to hold off a veteran field featuring defending champion and three-time winner Luke Branquinho, and two-time champ Dean Gorsuch, who won six times this year. Gorsuch will compete on a horse named Skip after his favorite horse, Pump Jack, died in January.

DESCRIPTION: The steer wrestler and horse start behind a barrier and begin chase after the steer has been given a head start. If the wrestler leaves too soon and breaks the barrier, he receives a 10-second penalty.

The steer wrestler is assisted by a hazer, another cowboy on horseback who tries to keep the steer running in a straight line.

When the bulldogger’s horse pulls even with the steer, he eases down the side of the horse and reaches for the steer’s horns. After grasping the horns, he digs his heels into the dirt. As the steer slows, the cowboy turns the animal, lifts up on its right horn and pushes down with his left hand.

After the catch, he must either bring the steer to a stop or change the direction of the animal’s body before the throw, or he is disqualified. The clock stops when the calf is on its side with all legs pointing in the same direction.

TEAM ROPING

HEADER

2012 CONTESTANTS

1. Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas, $132,254

2. Chad Masters, Cedar Hill, Tenn., $117,475

3. Kaleb Driggers, Albany, Ga., $110,228

4. Keven Daniel, Franklin, Tenn., $97,930

5. Clay Tryan, Billings, Mont., $94,322

6. Luke Brown, Stephenville, Texas, $91,381

7. Dustin Bird, Cut Bank, Mont., $90,391

8. Colby Lovell, Madisonville, Texas, $89,469

9. Derrick Begay, Seba Dalkai, Ariz., $88,094

10. Travis Tryan, Billings, Mont., $85,748

11. Brock Hanson, Casa Grande, Ariz., $71,498

12. Erich Rogers, Round Rock, Ariz., $69,968

13. Charly Crawford, Prineville, Ore., $69,388

14. Spencer Mitchell, Colusa, Calif., $66,868

15. Turtle Powell, Stephenville, Texas, $64,508

2011 CHAMPION: Turtle Powell

HEELER

2012 CONTESTANTS

1. Patrick Smith, Lipan, Texas, $133,754

2. Clay Cooper, Gardnerville, Nev., $111,043

3. Jade Corkill, Fallon, Nev., $106,137

4. Chase Tryan, Helena, Mont., $97,430

5. Travis Graves, Jay, Okla., $92,822

6. Martin Lucero, Stephenville, Texas, $91,381

7. Paul Eaves, Lonedell, Mo., $86,817

8. Cesar de la Cruz, Tucson, Ariz., $86,665

9. Jake Long, Coffeyville, Kan., $84,685

10. Ryan Motes, Weatherford, Texas, $80,573

11. Russell Cardoza, Terrebonne, Ore., $75,207

12. Kory Koontz, Sudan, Texas, $69,253

13. Jim Ross Cooper, Monument, N.M., $62,529

14. Dugan Kelly, Paso Robles, Calif., $60,835

15. Dakota Kirchenschlager, Stephenville, Texas, $60,554

2011 CHAMPION: Jhett Johnson

OVERVIEW: With wins in all-around and team roping, 16-time world champion Trevor Brazile would tie Guy Allen for the most career world titles, with 18.

Brazile and two-time world champion heeler Patrick Smith – who won the 2010 title together and lead this year’s standings – have been partners since 2007 and are the longest-running roping team in the NFR.

DESCRIPTION: A header must charge out of the box on horseback, and as in steer wrestling, he can’t break the barrier. He then must chase down a steer and rope it around its protected horns, neck or "half-head," a partial horn-neck catch.

After making his catch, the header rides to the left, taking the steer in tow. The heeler moves in and ropes both hind legs. Catching only one hind leg is a five-second penalty. If the heeler tosses his loop before the header has changed the direction of the steer and has the animal moving forward, it’s called a "crossfire" and results in disqualification.

The run is completed when the steer is secured and the team ropers’ horses are facing each other on opposite sides of the steer.

SADDLE BRONC RIDING

2012 CONTESTANTS

1. Jesse Wright, Milford, Utah, $133,098

2. Wade Sundell, Boxholm, Iowa, $114,036

3. Cody DeMoss, Heflin, La., $113,504

4. Taos Muncy, Corona, N.M., $100,741

5. Cody Wright, Milford, Utah, $82,339

6. Chad Ferley, Oelrichs, S.D., $76,366

7. Cody Taton, Corona, N.M., $75,067

8. Jake Wright, Milford, Utah, $74,553

9. Jacobs Crawley, College Station, Texas, $69,888

10. Cort Scheer, Elsmere, Neb., $67,751

11. Sterling Crawley, College Station, Texas, $67,267

12. Isaac Diaz, Davie, Fla., $65,860

13. Cole Elshere, Faith, S.D., $65,837

14. Bradley Harter, Weatherford, Texas, $65,459

15. Tyrell Smith, Cascade, Mont., $52,311

2011 CHAMPION: Taos Muncy

OVERVIEW: Jesse Wright, who set the NFR average record for a saddle bronc rider last year, is gunning for his first world title in a field that includes his twin brother Jake and older brother Cody Wright, a two-time world champion.

Jesse Wright, making his third straight NFR appearance, leads the standings by $19,062 over Wade Sundell, who was in first place for most of the year before damaging ligaments in his knee and sitting out much of September.

DESCRIPTION: Model spurring action begins with the rider’s feet far forward on the bronc’s point of shoulder, sweeping to the back of the saddle as the horse bucks. The rider then snaps his feet back to the horse’s neck a split second before the animal’s front feet hit the ground.

Other factors considered in scoring are the cowboy’s control throughout the ride, the length of his spurring stroke and how hard the horse bucks.

Disqualification results if, during the eight-second ride, he touches the horse, his body or his equipment with his free hand, if either foot slips out of a stirrup, if he drops the bronc rein or if he fails to have his feet in the proper mark-out position at the beginning of the ride.

The horse’s performance accounts for half the total score.

TIE-DOWN ROPING

2012 CONTESTANTS

1. Justin Maass, Giddings, Texas, $144,001

2. Tuf Cooper, Decatur, Texas, $124,421

3. Cody Ohl, Hico, Texas, $103,659

4. Hunter Herrin, Apache, Okla., $99,564

5. Clint Robinson, Spanish Fork, Utah, $94,934

6. Cory Solomon, Prairie View, Texas, $88,400

7. Monty Lewis, Hereford, Texas, $83,726

8. Shane Hanchey, Sulphur, La., $79,215

9. Houston Hutto, Tomball, Texas, $79,102

10. Ryan Jarrett, Comanche, Okla., $74,758

11. Matt Shiozawa, Chubbuck, Idaho, $72,032

12. Fred Whitfield, Hockley, Texas, $69,987

13. Adam Gray, Seymour, Texas, $69,091

14. Bradley Bynum, Sterling City, Texas, $66,840

15. Clif Cooper, Decatur, Texas, $66,369

2011 CHAMPION: Tuf Cooper

OVERVIEW: Justin Maass has led the event for virtually the entire season, winning 14 tie-down roping titles en route to career-high earnings of $144,001.

To capture his first world championship, Maass will have to hold off reigning champ Tuf Cooper – who is $19,580 off the lead in second place – six-time world champion Cody Ohl and eight-time world champion Fred Whitfield, who is making his 20th NFR appearance.

DESCRIPTION: Success in tie-down roping, once known as calf roping, depends on the teamwork between a cowboy and his horse, and the luck of the draw. A feisty calf that runs fast or kicks hard can foil a roper’s finest effort.

After the calf is given a head start, the cowboy on horseback follows, ropes the calf, then dismounts and runs to the calf. After catching and flanking it, the cowboy ties any three of its legs together using a pigging string he carries in his teeth. If the calf is not standing when the contestant reaches it, he must allow it to stand before flanking it.

When the cowboy completes his tie, he throws his hands in the air as a signal to the judge. He then remounts his horse and allows the rope to become slack. The run is declared valid if the calf is still tied after six seconds. And as in steer wrestling and team roping, the cowboy is penalized if he breaks the barrier early.

BULL RIDING

2012 CONTESTANTS

1. Cody Teel, Kountze, Texas, $159,869

2. J.W. Harris, Mullin, Texas, $152,629

3. Trey Benton III, Rock Island, Texas, $109,743

4. Kanin Asay, Powell, Wyo., $100,274

5. Seth Glause, Cheyenne, Wyo., $94,170

6. Ardie Maier, Timber Lake, S.D., $90,191

7. Trevor Kastner, Ardmore, Okla., $88,457

8. Cody Samora, Cortez, Colo., $80,593

9. Tate Stratton, Kellyville, Okla., $78,019

10. Shane Proctor, Grand Coulee, Wash., $76,376

11. Cody Whitney, Sayre, Okla., $74,336

12. Beau Schroeder, China, Texas, $71,297

13. Clayton Savage, Casper, Wyo., $65,979

14. Brett Stall, Detroit Lakes, Minn., $65,882

15. Tag Elliott, Thatcher, Utah, $63,912

2011 CHAMPION: Shane Proctor

OVERVIEW: The battle for the bull riding gold buckle shapes up as a two-man race between first-time NFR qualfier Cody Teel and three-time world champion J.W. Harris.

The 20-year-old Teel, who has led the world standings since February, enters the Finals with a $7,240 edge on Harris, a seven-time NFR qualifier.

Teel and Harris squared off Sept. 29 in the final round of the Justin Boots Championships in Omaha, Neb. Harris turned in a 91-point ride to claim the title over Teel, who settled for second place with an 89.

DESCRIPTION: Upper-body control and strong legs are essential to riding bulls. The rider tries to remain forward at all times. Leaning back could cause him to be whipped forward when the bull bucks.

Judges watch for good body position, use of the free arm and optional spurring action. A bull rider will be disqualified for touching the animal, his body or his equipment with his free hand.

As in all riding events, half the score is determined by the contestant’s performance, and the other half is based on the bull’s effort.

WPRA BARREL RACING

2012 CONTESTANTS

1. Brittany Pozzi, Victoria, Texas, $170,961

2. Lindsay Sears, Nanton, Alberta, $136,321

3. Mary Walker, Ennis, Texas, $127,292

4. Carlee Pierce, Stephenville, Texas, $124,520

5. Sherry Cervi, Marana, Ariz., $93,062

6. Nikki Steffes, Vale, S.D., $87,535

7. Kaley Bass, Kissimmee, Fla., $86,282

8. Brenda Mays, Terrebonne, Ore., $81,799

9. Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, S.D., $72,461

10. Benette Barrington-Little, Ardmore, Okla., $68,394

11. Kelli Tolbert, Hooper, Utah, $63,681

12. Lee Ann Rust, Stephenville, Texas, $61,587

13. Christina Richman, Glendora, Calif., $60,872

14. Trula Churchill, Valentine, Neb., $60,777

15. Christy Loflin, Franktown, Colo., $54,852

2011 CHAMPION: Lindsay Sears

OVERVIEW: Two-time WPRA world champion Brittany Pozzi – who leads defending champ Lindsay Sears by $34,640 – is dedicating her NFR to her late boyfriend, former PRCA team roper Broc Cresta, who died suddenly in July.

A pair of 50-somethings will make their NFR debuts. Mary Walker, 53, who joined the WPRA in 1983, dominated the second half of the season and could contend for the title. Lee Ann Rust, who won the WPRA Rookie of the Year award last year at 53, will turn 55 in the 10th round.

DESCRIPTION: The contestant and her horse enter the arena at full speed. As they begin the course, the horse triggers an electronic eye that starts the clock. The racer rides a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels, then sprints out of the arena, tripping the eye to stop the clock. The contestant can touch or even move the barrels but receives a five-second penalty for each overturned barrel.

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