Throughout pro rodeo’s National Finals this year, Fort Worth area competitors will receive lots of attention. At least during the beginning of the championships.
Going into the National Finals, five of the 10 world title races will be led by a Fort Worth area competitor.
Tuf Cooper of Weatherford is ranked No. 1 in the all-around and tie-down roping standings. Junior Nogueira, a Brazilian native who lives in Burleson, is at the top of the leader board in team roping heading. Tiany Schuster of Krum tops the barrel racing standings. And Jason Evans of Glen Rose leads the steer ropers.
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association/Women’s Professional Rodeo Association’s regular season ended Saturday. At that point, the top 15 in each event advanced to the Dec. 7-16 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas or the Nov. 10-11 National Finals Steer Roping in Mulvane, Kan., which is in the Wichita area.
Cooper, a three-time world champion, and his brother-in-law Trevor Brazile of Decatur, a 23-time world champion, made the cut in two events. They both qualified for the nationals in tie-down roping and steer roping.
In the 2017 world all-around standings, Cooper is ranked No. 1 with $214,131. Brazile is ranked No. 2 with $180,487. The standings won’t be official until after an audit.
Cooper and Brazile are among 14 area competitors who earned a coveted National Finals back number.
The other area qualifiers are Tyson Durfey of Weatherford (tie-down roping), Marty Yates of Stephenville (tie-down roping), Timber Moore of Aubrey (tie-down roping), Luke Brown of Stephenville (team roping heading), Kory Koontz of Stephenville (team roping heeling), Stevi Hillman of Weatherford (barrel racing), Kassie Mowry Of Dublin (barrel racing), Tillar Murray of Fort Worth (barrel racing) and Sterling Crawley of Stephenville (saddle bronc riding).
During the past two weekends, world class competitors rode in rodeos in cities ranging from Stephenville to Sioux Falls, S.D., to either secure a National Finals berth or to improve their ranking going into the NFR.
For example, Nogueira was ranked No. 2 in team roping heeling in the Sept. 25 PRCA weekly world standings. But after clinching the team roping title at the Wrangler Champions Challenge on Friday in Sioux Falls ($3,944) and then finishing fifth at the same type of rodeo in Sioux Falls ($928) on Saturday, Nogueira took the lead in the team roping heeling world title race.
The Sept. 22-24 Cowboy Capital Of The World PRCA Rodeo drew competitors who were on or near the bubble as they attempted to finish within the top 15 in an event in order to earn a National Finals berth.
Cooper has been on a mission to earn his first National Finals Steer Roping berth. He entered the Stephenville rodeo ranked No. 16 in the steer roping world title race.
After clinching the steer roping title, Cooper earned $4,077. He also picked up a $798 check after finishing second in the steer roping second round at the Apache rodeo on the same weekend.
After all that, Cooper earned enough in Stephenville and Apache to finish the regular season ranked 13th in the steer roping world standings with $44,217.
For Cooper, qualifying for the Mulvane-based NFSR increases his chances of earning his first world all-around title. Like Brazile, he has the opportunity to win the bigger prize money at stake in two events instead of one.