Richest One Day Rodeo on February 28th. If you didn’t spend your Sunday watching it at the AT&T Stadium or watching it on your television, you missed some excellent rodeo. The top 10 competitors from PRCA, PBR, and WPRA were invited, plus a handful of exemptions were offered to the brightest rising stars and retired Hall-Of-Famers in rodeo. Finally, qualifying cowboys and cowgirls from across the nation paid an entry fee to compete as “Qualifiers” at preliminary events throughout the year in various locations and hopefully win a chance to participate.
Why is this rodeo considered the richest in the world? Because there is $2 million in prize money up for those competitors that score the highest scores in their events to take home at the end of the day. $125,000 prize money is up for each of the seven events. If a nationally ranked cowboy or cowgirl wins, they receive $100,000 and 2nd place gets $25,000. But, if a ‘Qualifier’ wins The American, that contestant, in addition to the $100,000 prize shares in the $1,000,000 bonus prize money.
The event was held at the AT&T Stadium, in Arlington, Texas, where the Dallas Cowboys football team is at home. It was a huge arena, although part of it was blocked off. The weather couldn’t have been nicer. This was a big improvement from the first two years when ice and cancelled flights kept many that had planned to be there from attending. It was a full house this year.
The American Semi-Finals was held from February 17 through 21st in Fort Worth for the “Qualifiers”. In addition there were several other qualifying events throughout the country during the past year, since the 2015 American was held.
The chosen and “Qualifying” contestants for each event kicked-off the day with between 15 to 21 total contestants competing in each event. The top four scores at the end of the first competition in each event on Sunday were eligible for The Finals, which was held shortly after the finish of the first go-round. In addition to the top scorer winning $100,000, if it was a “Qualifier” they would be eligible for an additional $1 million, bonus money. If more than one “Qualifier” won more than one event the $1 million would be divided between the number of “Qualifiers” winning their event.
Their scores from the first ‘go-round’ were eliminated and only the score from The Finals would indicate the Champion, and 2nd place. What an opportunity for everyone who was eligible to compete on Sunday!
The first event of the day was Bareback Riding and the riders with the highest scores were: Kaycee Field, Tanner Aus, and “Qualifiers” R. C. Landingham and Tim O’Connell. The Champion of The Final was Tanner Aus who rode Show Stomper, from Frontier Rodeo, for a score of 88.50 and took home $100,000. Kaycee Feild won second for $25,000.
Team Roping top four teams were: Derick Begay and Clay O’Brien Cooper, Trevor Brazile and Patrick Smith, “Qualifiers” David Key and Dugan Kelly, and Blaine Vick and Dakota Kirschenslager. Champions with a score of 4.56 seconds was Derick Begay and Clay O’Brien Cooper. Second place and $25,000 went to “Qualifiers” David Key and Dugan Kelly with 4.94 seconds.
Steer Wrestling Competition Final Four were Dakota Eldridge, Ty Erickson, Casey Martin and “Qualifier” Cody Cassidy. $100,000 Champion was Ty Erickson, with a time of 4.80 seconds, and whose answer to what it takes to be a great steer wrestler, said “Timing and technique,” not his 6’6” height. “Qualifier” Cody Cassidy won second with a time of 7.75 seconds and took home $25,000.
The Saddle Bronc Riding top four were Jacobs Crowley, Wade Sundell, Cort Sheer and Jake Wright. The Champion Wade Sundell rode Maple Leaf of Frontier Rodeo for a score of 90.75, and a $100,000 to take home to Oklahoma. Second was Jake Wright with a score of 87.75 won second place and $25,000.
Tie Down Roping found Hunter Herrin, Tyson Durfey and “Qualifiers” Cory Solomon and Justin Maas going to The Finals. Champion was Hunter Herrin with a time of 6.77 seconds with $100,000 to take home. He said he is building a house and the money would sure help. Second place went to Tyson Durfey with a 6.86 seconds time and a purse of $25,000.
The Barrel Racing competition had the most contestants with 21. The outcome was Lisa Lockhart, Jackie Ganter, Sarah Rose McDonald and Callie DuPerier going to the Final Four. No qualifiers were in the finals. Champion was Sarah Rose McDonald with a time of 14.470 seconds and her speed was measured as 30 mph. When asked what she planned to do with the $100,000 prize monies she said, “Take care of my horse.” Second place went to Lisa Lockhart, with a time of 14.648. She had won The American the past two years.
Bull Riding was the last event and the four advancing bull riders were Stetson Lawrence, Fabiano Vieira, Joao Ricardo Vieira and Kaique Pacheco. Pacheco bucked off on his first bull after 7.09 seconds, but was included to round out the four, as he stayed on the longest. The Champion winning $100,000 was Joao Ricardo Vieira, from Brazil, who rode Red Moon for a score of 81.75. The other three bucked off their final bulls.
Between events five freestyle bullfighters were judged on their challenge with fighting bulls. Nate Jestes, of Fort Collins, CO, finishing as champion against four other bullfighters; Ross Hill, Evan Allard, Cody Webster and Kyle Lippincott.
This year, it was decided that the three contestants who had won their events the last two years, should be eligible to win a part of the $1,000,000 bonus money if they won this year. They called it The Triple Crown. Those three contestants were Wade Sundell in Saddle Bronc Riding; Lisa Lockhart in Barrel Racing and Caleb Driggers, Team Roper. The final result was that Wade Sundell was the only one to win his event and he won the entire $1 milliion. After the Saddle Bronc event, which was fourth on Sunday he had to wait out the rest of the rodeo to see if he was the only one that won three years in a row. As Ty Murray, one of the commentators on television said, “Wade has dominated his event all three years.” He was so enthusiastic throughout the day, when he won the $100,000 he told the interviewer, “I’ve got a lot of fire under this hat!”
Congratulations to Wade Sundell, and all the winners at the 2016 RFD-TV American. I can’t wait until next year.