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NFR Round 9: Wade, Thorp in control of team roping standings

Tyler Wade said Friday night’s ninth go-round of the National Finals Rodeo was “the toughest round of team roping.”

As he and team roping partner Wesley Thorp prepared for their run, teams were posting times under the four-second barrier to claim earnings for the overall standings. They knew they needed to post a fast time to stay in a tight title fight.

“We knew we had to place in the rounds, one of the last two, to give ourselves a chance (for the overall title),” Wade said. “(Friday) was the toughest round of team roping literally ever. I told Wesley, ‘It’s now or (Saturday) night, whenever we need to do it, we better get the ball rolling, and we did it tonight.’”

A night after tying the PRCA team roping time record, Wade and Thorp won their go-round with a time of 3.5 seconds and each claimed $30,706 in earnings at the Thomas & Mack Center.

“It was tough to watch when they go that fast. … But we said, ‘Let’s just make our run and see what happens,’” Thorp, a Throckmorton, Texas, native, said. “We weren’t going to take a Hail Mary or anything. (Wade) was aggressive and he set (the steer) up good, and I heeled him in a good spot to give us a good chance.”

Entering Saturday’s 10th and final round, the battle for the team roping title is the closest title fight of the seven events. Wade leads the header standings by more than $22,000 over Clint Summers. Thorp has a $26,000 advantage over Jake Long in the heeler standings.

In other title battles, Zeke Thurston won his go-round Friday with a score of 88.5 and earned $30,706 to hold a $31,000 advantage in the saddle bronc riding standings over Sage Newman.

Thorp and Wade have racked up $102,614 in earnings through nine rounds at NFR, the most of any team ropers.

“We came out here with a run,” Wade, a Terrell, Texas, native, said. “If it went bad, we stuck with the run. When it went good, we should probably stick with the run. I don’t care if you have to be 10th (Saturday), we’re just going to rope the steer like we have all year.”

They didn’t claim any earnings in the first two rounds, but finished fourth Sunday and third Friday. They didn’t place and claim any earnings in the next three rounds before their win in the eighth go-round Thursday.

Thorp said with some of the teams out of contention in the average standings, many are focused on just posting a fast time and not necessarily on catching the steer. With the title race so close, Thorp, the 2019 world champion, said he and Wade have “stayed in their lane” to be in a spot to win the world title.

“It’s just an exciting feeling,” Thorp said of leading the standings entering the final night. ‘It’s what you work for all year. It’s fun and an accomplishment to even be in this spot.”

While Wade said there is “a little bit” of a different feeling going into the final night with the lead, he agreed with his partner that they have to worry about themselves first.

“If you watch somebody else, you’re not going to focus on what you need to do,” Wade said. Even though it got fast, I didn’t care who went fast, what they did or how much money they had. Smooth is fast here. You can’t do anything out of the ordinary, like skip a step, and be fast.”

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on X.

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