Brett Hoffman

Wyatt Casper, a 2020 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier who is from Miami, Texas, clinched the saddle bronc riding average/aggregate title at the Texas Circuit Finals Rodeo in Waco.

Casper finished No 1 in the title race at the Dec. 31-Jan. 2 championships with a three-ride score of 249.5. He was the only saddle bronc rider who made a qualified ride on all three broncs throughout the three-day rodeo at the Extraco Events Center.

With the Texas Circuit Finals average/aggregate championship, Casper has qualified for the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo that’s scheduled for April 9-10 in Kissimmee, Florida. It’s his first time to qualify for the RNCFR.

“I’m excited, my family’s excited — they’re already trying to plan a trip to Disney World,” Casper said jokingly, referring to the popular amusement park that's near Kissimmee.

Other average/aggregate race winners during the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association/Women’s Professional Rodeo Association Texas Circuit Finals were steer wrestler Dylan Schroeder, team ropers Kaleb Driggers (heading) and Lane Mitchell (heeling), steer roper Shay Good, bull rider Cole Melancon, bareback rider Leighton Berry, tie-down roper Marty Yates and barrel racer Tiany Schuster.

Berry also clinched the Texas Circuit’s year-end bareback title. Yates also lassoed the year-end tie-down roping title. Schuster also snared the year-end barrel racing title.

Meanwhile, Jeff Askey of Athens finished third in the bull riding average/aggregate race. Shelley Morgan of Canton finished second in the barrel racing aggregate/average title race. She also finished as the barrel racing year-end reserve champion.     

In breakaway roping, Martha Angelone clinched both the Texas Circuit Finals average/aggregate title and the year-end title.  

Clay Smith clinched the Texas Circuit year-end all-around title. Other year-end champions were saddle bronc rider Jacobs Crawley, bull rider Braden Richardson, steer wrestler Cade Staton, team roping header Dustin Egusquiza, team roping heeler Junior Nogueira and steer roper Trevor Brazile.

Casper’s first NFR

Last month, Wyatt Casper competed at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo at Globe Life Field in Arlington. During his first trip to the Wrangler NFR, he finished second in the saddle bronc riding average/aggregate title race. He also finished runner-up in the PRCA’s 2020 saddle bronc riding world title race.

Casper entered the National Finals ranked No. 1 in the 2020 world saddle bronc riding race. But during the Wrangler NFR, he was overtaken by Utah cowboy Ryder Wright who had a remarkable run at the Arlington championships and clinched the 2020 world title.

“That was my goal was to win it and it just didn’t work out,” Casper said of the 2020 world title race. “I felt like I didn’t draw as good of horses in some rounds as I needed to (at the NFR) and pretty well got outdrawn and outrode by Ryder (Wright). But I still had an unbelievable Finals.”

Throughout the NFR, Casper pocketed $175,846. Wright earned $247,134.

During the 2020 Wrangler NFR, Wright was the only saddle bronc rider who made a qualified ride in all 10 rounds. Casper stayed on nine of the 10 broncs he faced at the Arlington championships.

Asked about competing in his first NFR, Casper said: “I was pretty nervous going down there. But once I got settled in there at Globe Life Field, it kind of felt like The American (at AT&T Stadium in Arlington). It didn’t take me long to get my nerves settled. It was fun. I had a blast.”

For Casper, 2020 was a year of earning bigger bucks at rodeos. For example, he clinched the saddle bronc riding title at the RFD-TV’s The American in March and earned $603,000.

Casper’s success in 2020 came after he had struggled during the previous year. In 2019, he finished 33rd in the PRCA’s saddle bronc riding world standings with $40,195.

“I never would have dreamed of having as good of year as I had,” Casper said of 2020. “It’s really a dream come true, honestly.”

Death of a legend

ProRodeo Hall of Famer Leo Camarillo passed away Dec. 30 at the age of 74 in Chandler, Arizona, according to prorodeo.com. Camarillo, a five-time world champion – team roping in 1972-73, 1975 and 1983, and all-around in 1975 – was inducted with the inaugural 1979 ProRodeo Hall of Fame class in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

PBR update

On the Professional Bull Riders circuit, three Unleash The Beast (top tier) tour stops have been scheduled in Texas within the first two months of 2021. A UTB show is scheduled for Jan. 23-24 in Pecos, for Jan. 30-31 in Del Rio and for Feb. 27-28 in Longview.

The PBR’s 2021 World Finals is scheduled for Nov. 3-7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. 

Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has covered rodeos and horse show events for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for more than 35 years. Email him at bchoffman777@earthlink.net.

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