Ropers Sports News | January-February 2023

PAGE 42 ROPERS SPORTS NEWS JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2023 MARCH 3-4-5, 2023 Fairgrounds Indoor Arena • Chowchilla, CA Chowchilla Western Stampede BARREL RACE MARCH 11th - 12th $10,000 ADDED ON MARCH 11th! 66th Annual Chowchilla Western Stampede Added Money! See Future RSN For Details Stetson Wright set a single season record in the bull riding with $592,1144 won for the year. . – PRCA ProRodeo Photo by Hailey Rae Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira racked up their second consecutive world champion header and heeler titles. – PRCA ProRodeo Photo by Phil Doyle Caleb Smidt and his wonder horse, Pockets, captured their fourth NFR average and world championship in tie-down roping. – PRCA ProRodeo Photo by Clay Guardipee Stetson Wright Caps Epic Wrangler NFR... From Page 40 friends I rope against every day who encourage me to be who I am, it’s amazing. I am happy for my family. They have been supporting me all week. I do it for them, for the fans and I give all the glory to God.” Smidt won the average with an 82.5-second time on 10 head. He also won world and average titles in 2015, 2018, 2021-22. Smidt is tied with tiedown ropers Olin Young (1959, 1962-63, 1971); Roy Cooper (1976, 1979, 1983, 1995); and Fred Whitfield (1991, 1997, 1999, 2002) for most NFR average wins. “I don’t even think I would have a gold buckle without him,” said Smidt of his star horse Pockets. “That’s how good he is. The consistency he gives me every time I nod my head. It’s unbelievable. When I am back in there, and I know it’s all on me to win something, it’s pretty easy. I don’t have to worry about my horse. A lot of guys this week were switching horses to try to find something that works. When I ride on him, I know I have a chance. When you have a horse that does the exact same thing every time it gives you a chance. He’s going to do his job.” Steer wrestler Tyler Waguespack claims fourth world crown Tyler Waguespack is no stranger to winning world championships – but his fourth world title on Saturday night was a bit improbable. The favorites to win the world – Stetson Jorgensen and Will Lummus – stumbled. Jorgensen received a no time in Round 10 and Lummus broke the barrier. In came Waguespack to win his fourth world title. Waguespack also was the world champ in 2016, 2018 and 2021 and 2022. Waguespack finished atop the wor ld s t andings wi th $268,881. He narrowly defeated Lummus who finished with $266,188. Waguespack split fourth in Round 10 (4.0 seconds) and was third in the average with a 57.1-second time on 10 head. “I feel undeserving of this world title,” Waguespack said. “That was the craziest round of steer wrestling I have ever seen. Will Lummus bulldogged great all week long. The steer he had tonight actually took me out of the average earlier in the week that’s the steer I got the barrier on. I would have never thought that would happen. Will should be sitting here instead of me. I was the lucky one who came out on top at the end. That was one of the craziest rounds I have ever watched.” Waguespack is joining some elite company in steer wrestling world title circles. Only Homer Pettigrew (six) and Luke Branquinho (five) have won more world titles than Waguespack. The Gonzales, La., cowboy is tied with four world titles with Ote Berry, Everett Bowman and Jim Bynum. “Thi s i s so awesome , ” Waguespack said, “I grew up watching all my heroes and dreaming about having one gold buckle, you know. Ote Berry is one of my biggest role models and biggest supporters and helped me out so much. I can’t wait to see him here in a little awhile because I have got the same amount he does, and I get to rub it in that I am still going so maybe one day I will get lucky and get one more on top of him.” Saddle bronc rider Zeke Thurston nabs his third world crown Canadian Zeke Thurston made it a hat trick on Saturday night. Thurston won his third career gold buckle in 2022, thanks to earning a PRCA single-season saddle bronc riding record with $399,316. Thurston of Big Valley, Alberta, also won world titles in 2016 and 2019. “This one was probably the hardest one I have ever had,” said Thurston of title No. 3. “I had to work for this one. The other 14 guys in the room are crazy talented and ride awesome. I had quite a bit of money to make up coming in here. I knew if I just made the best ride I could on every horse and kept placing in the rounds I would give myself a fighting chance. And that’s what I did. Having my family and everybody here, it is really cool. I have won a couple of others. To have them all here for this one is really special.” Thurston earned an NFR saddle bronc riding record $256,078. He earned $74,150 for winning the average with 876.5 points on 10 head. “I am not usually an averagekind-of guy,” Thurston said. “I darn sure didn’t come here with the mindset to win the average. When it comes down to it, it can make-or-break you. To be the guy leading it coming in, I would almost rather not have been in that position because it starts playing tricks on your mind. I just blocked it all out and went and made the best possible ride tonight. Team ropers Driggers/ Nogueira wins second straight gold buckles Make it back-to-back for team ropers – header Kaleb Driggers and heeler Junior Nogueira – who won their second straight world championships. Driggers/Nogueira finished atop their respective world standings with $340,708 each. They earned $112,830 each at the NFR and finished second in the average with a 71.4-second time on nine head. “This is what we’ve always dreamed about, being here and winning a gold buckle,” Driggers said. “This week we had a lot of trials and tribulations. We had to overcome them. It didn’t go exactly as we planned. At the end of the day, we kept our faith in the Lord and our faith in each other and we persevered.” Nogueira echoed his partner. “It was one of the toughest finals (without winning a round), especially for me,” Nogueira said. “Kaleb did an See WRIGHT/WRANGLER NFR On Page 44

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