LAS VEGAS – Before the start of the 2019 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, tie-down roper Shane Hanchey had a good feeling about how things were going to unfold for him. So far, the Sulphur, La., cowboy has been right.
Hanchey won his second round of the week, clocking a 7.5-second run in Round 4 before 16,813 spectators Sunday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Hanchey also won Round 1 with a 7.6-second time and placed second in Round 3 with a 7.1-second effort. The only blemish on Hanchey’s 2019 Wrangler NFR was his no-time in Round 2.
Hanchey remains the leader in the PRCA World Standings with $185,389.
“I had a great calf,” Hanchey said. “I had to take others’ word for it because I didn’t think it was a great calf, but it was. Riley Pruitt ran him for the first run and Tyler Milligan tied him this morning and said, ‘I’ve been wanting to run that calf all week.’ That gave me some last-minute confidence before the grand entry, and I’m glad it worked out.”
Hanchey did his homework before making his Round 4 run.
“Since the reruns have started and these calves were roped in Round 1, you can watch a video and talk to other contestants because that’s what’s so cool about rodeo – we’re not competing against each other, we’re competing against and with the calf,” Hanchey said. “Riley gave me some good information, and it worked out. You’ve got to pay attention to them. You can’t just nod, go and react. Now that the reruns have started, you have a better idea what they’re going to do in the arena.”
Hanchey’s no stranger to success in Las Vegas. This is his 10th appearance at the Wrangler NFR, highlighted by his 2013 world championship. That year, Hanchey also set the average record with an 80.1-second time on 10 head.
However, Hanchey knows every NFR trip is different and mental toughness counts.
“All of us want to do well, not only for us but our families,” he said. “We’ve put an extended amount of pressure on ourselves, it can be a roller coaster for sure.
“My first thought is I want my horse to do well in the box and I want to get a good start. After that, roping the neck. For me, when I rope the neck, everything else is reaction. We’ve done so much it’s repetition and muscle memory.”
Wright adds second bull-riding win
Bull rider Stetson Wright won his second round of the Wrangler NFR, recording a 91-point ride on Painted Pony Championship Rodeo’s Holy Holly in Round 4.
Wright also was victorious in Round 1 with a 91-point trip on 4L & Diamond S Rodeo’s Monte Walsh.
“I guess I’m just drawing good, and everyone told me to quit using the word ‘lucky,’ but I feel like I am riding good, and tonight I told myself to finish,” Wright said.
Reigning five-time world champion Sage Kimzey remains the World Standings leader with $301,271.
Larsen takes bareback riding
Before Sunday night, Orin Larsen had never matched up with Frontier Rodeo’s Night Fist. Their first encounter together was memorable.
Larsen had a 90-point ride on Night Fist to win the round. He was a half-point away from tying the Round 4 Wrangler NFR record, shared by Will Lowe (set in 2004) and Ty Breuer (2017).
“Everyone I talked to in the dressing room was pretty pumped up that I had a good horse (Sunday night),” Larsen said. “That horse definitely didn’t fail. It fit my style and got in the air and was really showy. He hangs in the air and is just a good bucking horse, and I was glad to have him.”
After earning $26,231, Larsen moved from third to second in the World Standings with $211,789. He has earned $38,346 at the Wrangler NFR. Clayton Biglow leads the world standings with $219,452.
Chambers claims steer wrestling
Steer wrestler Bridger Chambers won Round 4 on Sunday with a 3.6-second run. He’s earned $61,756 through four rounds at the NFR.
“Oh, man, that’s pretty exciting,” Chambers said about his first career Wrangler NFR round win and subsequent victory lap. “I don’t know how you can describe it to anybody, but I was just trying to soak it all in. It happens so fast, and I was just excited. It was a very special moment.”
Ty Erickson leads the steer wrestling world standings with $174,273.
Wright snares sixth saddle bronc win
Rusty Wright is making his fourth appearance at the Wrangler NFR, and the saddle bronc rider always seems to find success in the Thomas & Mack.
Wright won Round 4 with an 89.5-point ride on Diamond G Rodeos’ Miss Nancy for the sixth round win of his career.
With his $26,231 payday, Wright is third in the world standings with $175,153. Zeke Thurston overtook Ryder Wright to take the lead in the world standings with $249,607.
Masters, Harrison claim Round 4
Chad Masters and Joseph Harrison set the pace in Round 4, capturing a victory with a 3.7-second run.
“I knew it was actually going to be fast and I knew I had a good steer,” said Masters, a two-time team roping header world champion (2007 and 2012). “I left early, and it wasn’t a picture-perfect run, but I am happy with the end result.”
Clay Smith and Jade Corkill are leading the respective header and heeler world standings.
Miller wins her second barrels round
Emily Miller captured a victory in Round 1 and added another win Sunday in Round 4 with her 13.64-second run.
Miller moved into first place in the world standings with $196,991. She has earned $98,848 so far at the Wrangler NFR, the most of any contestant.
“(ProRodeo Hall of Famer) Joe (Beaver) made the comment the other day at the WPRA luncheon that, ‘It’s fun in Vegas, but it’s a lot more fun when you’re winning,’” Miller said. “I have to agree with him. It’s been a great four days, and we’ve really enjoyed it.”
All-around race getting interesting
Thanks to winning his second round in bull riding, Stetson Wright maintained his lead in the all-around standings.
Wright has $245,461, $38,982 more than second-place Clay Smith, the reigning team roping header world champ. Tuf Cooper, the 2017 all-around world champ, is third with $195,986.