In recent weeks, there’s been lots of excitement about the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo moving from Las Vegas to Globe Life Field in Arlington.
The 2020 Wrangler NFR is scheduled for Dec. 3-12. But technically speaking, National Finals competition began at the Nov. 6-7 Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping at the Kansas Star Event Center in Mulvane, in the Wichita area.
Though steer roping is a lower profile event on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit, and the NFSR traditionally is held separate from the Wrangler NFR, steer ropers have a PRCA world title race like team ropers or saddle bronc riders.
An expensive steer roping world championship gold buckle is awarded annually and earnings count toward the world all-around standings.
Trevor Brazile of Decatur, a 25-time PRCA world champion in multiple categories, has qualified for the 2020 NFSR. He entered the NFSR ranked fourth in the world title race with 48,387 points and came in with a mathematical chance of clinching the 2020 world title. Cole Patterson, a Kansas cowboy, came in ranked No. 1 with 54,597.
Brazile, who is semiretired, is the defending PRCA steer roping world champion.
In addition to crowning the new world champion, this year’s National Finals Steer Roping could have an impact on the 2020 world all-around title race.
With that in mind, rodeo fans are keeping tabs on four-time world champion Tuf Cooper throughout the NFSR.
Defending world all-around champion Stetson Wright, a Utah cowboy, is ranked No. 1 in the PRCA's 2020 world all-around standings with 86,584 points. But Cooper, who has homes in Weatherford and Decatur, was not far behind with 85,546 points going into this weekend’s National Finals Steer Roping. Third-ranked Clay Smith, an Oklahoma cowboy, also is a contender in the all-around race with 80,737.
As he attempts to clinch the world all-around title, Cooper will first rely on his steer roping performances at this month's NFSR. Then, he’ll have a chance to tack on more points when he competes in tie-down roping during December’s NFR.
Wright will rely on his performances at the Arlington-based National Finals. He has qualified in saddle bronc riding and bull riding.
Smith has qualified for the Arlington championships only in team roping heading. And he probably will need to have blowout performances throughout the 10-day Wrangler NFR to have a shot at the 2020 all-around buckle.
Cooper lassoed the world all-around title in 2017. His three other world titles are in tie-down roping (2011-12 and 2014).
Cooper, who will be making his 12th Wrangler NFR appearance, plans a careful strategy in the early rounds as he navigates Globe Life Field.
“The first three rounds, that’s the most important,” Cooper said. “Especially the first round — go get a feel because it’s going to be new. If I can go get a feel for what the arena is and set myself up, it’s just kind of like building a foundation before I build the house.
“That’s kind of always been my goal. It seems like the years that I’ve capitalized on that, the whole 10 rounds goes a lot smoother. It’s better to get going and mash on the pedal after that.”
Cooper said that approach was followed by his grandfather, Clifton Smith of Childress who qualified for the National Finals in tie-down roping in 1960 and 1962, as well as his father, eight-time PRCA world champion Roy Cooper who lives in Decatur.
“You don’t really run at the barrier as much, you kind of get a feel for your horse, you run in there, you make sure you’re roping sharp and you’re making smooth runs on the ground,” Tuf Cooper said. “You don’t want to make a mistake in the first couple of rounds that you’re mentally not going to get over or it’s going to take four or five rounds to get over.
“It’s best to go get a feel, build your confidence and then capitalize on that. But, if you do happen to start that first round off with a 7-second run, you’re already dialed in and you stay with that rhythm.”
SHSU Rodeo scheduled
The Sam Houston State Rodeo is scheduled for Nov. 13-14 at the Lone Star Convention & Expo Center in Conroe. Each performance begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $7 at the gate. Kids 12-and-under get in free.
Trinity Valley Community College will enter the SHSU Rodeo ranked No. 4 in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Southern Region men’s team title race with 740 points. Panola College is ranked No. 1 with 1,450.
TVCC’s men’s team has received help from Kaden Profili who is ranked No. 1 in the Southern Region’s team roping heeling standings with 342 points, 60 more than No. 2 ranked Sawyer Denton Patterson of Southwest Texas Junior College.
TVCC’s team also has received help from Kyle McDaniel who is ranked No. 3 in the regional bull riding standings, 80 points behind No. 1 ranked Christopher Villanueva of Sam Houston State.
Professional Bull Riders fans can take in the PBR’s Unleash The Beast, the association’s top tier tour, twice within the next 10 months in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
The first will be the 2020 PBR World Finals, which is scheduled for Nov. 12-15 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The second is the PBR Unleash The Beast Fort Worth, which is scheduled for August 28-29, 2021, at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.
Meanwhile, the PBR scheduled its 2020 Velocity Tour Finals for Nov. 6-7, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
According to pbr.com, four wild card berths for the 2020 PBR World Finals in Arlington are up for grabs this weekend in Sioux Falls.
For more information, visit pbr.com.
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 email@example.com.