ARLINGTON, Texas — Stevensville bareback rider Richmond Champion regained his form Friday, hanging with Great Nation for an 86.5-point ride and third-place finish on Day 9 of the Wrangler National Finals rodeo at Globe Life Field.
Billings team roper Clay Tryan also regrouped from two off nights to partner with heeler Jake Long of Coffeyville, Kansas, for a 4.10 time and third place. Tryan is 11th in the average and fifth in the world standings after earning $11,654. Tryan's cousin, heeler Chase Tryan of Helena, and partner Brenten Hall of Jay, Oklahoma, failed to score, leaving Tryan 13th in the average and 14th in the world.
Champion pocketed $15,654 to maintain seventh in the average and fifth in the world standings. Winning the go-round was Cole Reiner of Kaycee, Wyoming, who scored 89.5 aboard Arbitrator Joe for a $26,231 paycheck. Reiner is eighth in the average and seventh in the world after his second win of the event.
“I won Missoula (Montana) on him last year, and I just got on him as a practice horse for the NFR, so I was really pumped,” Champion told Ted Harbin of TwisTedRodeo.com of Great Nation. “He was way better here than he was either of those times. I knew he was going to be tougher than any of the other horses out in this pen.
“He’s got a little bit of a drop and sometimes he moves ahead. Today he had the drop and was up under himself, so it was pretty awesome. It felt really good on my end.”
Now in his sixth NFR, Champion knows what it takes to win big money at ProRodeo’s grand finale. That came into play after getting bucked off in Thursday’s “Eliminator Pen” by Northcott-Macza’s Spilled Perfume.
“I got a little bit of a stinger,” he said, referring to a pinched nerve in his neck. “That third jump, she went left, and I just got a hair behind her, didn’t have my feet set and took it all on my arm. My whole arm went numb. The next thing you know, I’m looking down at my rigging thinking, ‘This is not good.’ By the time I got behind the bucking chutes, my fingers were tingling again.”
He was also No. 1 in the average race, then fell to seventh with 680.5 points on nine qualified rides.
“It sucked, and I was pretty upset,” said Champion, who attended nearby Tarleton State University on a rodeo scholarship. “You just reassess and make the next goal: ‘What is the next thing I’m going to accomplish in this situation, and they are paying average checks that ride nine head the best.’
“I’ll win as much as I can and try to get a good fifth- or sixth-place average check and call it a successful week.”
The NFR wraps up Saturday.
Also Friday, defending champion Haven Meged of Miles City had a time of 9.6 and finished out of the money in tie-down roping. Meged is 11th in the average and seventh in the world. Tuf Cooper of Decatur, Texas, earned his first win of the week with a 6.90.
Deer Lodge saddle bronc rider Chase Brooks scored a 72.5 but also was out of the money. Brooks, who hasn't placed since Day 4, is still third in the average and ninth in the world.
Brooks tied with two-time champion Zeke Thurston, who rode at Sheridan College and lives in Big Valley, Alberta. Thurston is fifth in the average and 10th in the world.
Wyoming's three other saddle bronc riders also finished without paydays. Brody Cress of Hillsdale scored a 79.50, former Casper College cowboy Shorty Garrett of Eagle Butte, South Dakota, had 78.50 and Cole Elshere, an ex-Gillette College cowboy from Faith, South Dakota, was bucked off. Garrett is 10th, Cress 12th and Elshere 15th in the average.
Wyatt Casper of Miami, Texas, earned his second buckle of the week with a ride of 88.0.
Eastern Montana native Lisa Lockhart of Oelrichs, South Dakota, had a time of 27.16 in barrel racing and remained 15th in the average, fifth in the world. Hailey Kinsel of Cotulla, Texas, continued her domination by winning for the third straight night, with a time of 16.81, to pad her average lead to 2.72 seconds. Kinsel has won five of the nine go-rounds.
Former Montana State steer wrestler Jesse Brown posted his second consecutive no score, dropping to 13th in the average and world standings. Tyler Waguespack of Gonzales, Louisiana, Matt Reeves of Cross Plains, Texas, and Jacob Talley of Keatchie, Louisiana, shared first in 3.50.
Jeff Askey of Athens, Texas, won the bull riding with an 89.50 to move into third in the average. Colten Fritzlan of Rifle, Colorado, failed to score but has a 73-point lead in the average entering the final round.