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Justin Smith scores crucial win in Kennewick


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KENNEWICK, Wash. – Tie-down roper Justin Smith had high expectations when he returned to the Horse Heaven / Kennewick (Wash.) Round-Up.

After missing both calves in Kennewick in 2017, the Leesville, La., cowboy redeemed himself by placing third in the first round with a 7.5-second run and was 10.6 seconds on his second calf. That left Smith 10th in the average with 18.1 seconds on two head.

“I really didn’t think I had a chance to win first tonight,” Smith said. “I came back a ways down and I knew if I was fast I felt like I could tie one down for at least fourth.” 

Smith was third out in the final round and roped his calf in 6.9 seconds, one-tenth of a second off the rodeo's record set by Randall Carlisle in 2014, to win the rodeo in 25.0 seconds on three head.

As predicted, the setup in Kennewick was the perfect fit for Smith's horse, Doc.

“It’s a really fast setup,” the 21-year-old cowboy said. “I like the fast setups, and it fits my horse. It’s a good one for me to come to because they tie them fast up here.”

Before he entered the final round in Kennewick, Smith was ranked 25th in the PRCA | RAM World Standings with $54,149 and 23rd in the ProRodeo Tour Standings. With more than a month left in the 2019 season, Smith already has surpassed his personal best, $46,168 won during his rookie year in 2017.

“This win came at a crucial time – I needed it right now,” Smith said. “I knew if I was going to have a chance to make the NFR I was going to have to have some luck here – it came at a good time.” 

Smith earned $7,951 for his Kennewick win and added to his ProRodeo Tour points. Both will help him in his pursuit to qualify for his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. 

“Along with this win I’ll be at 15 or 20 more rodeos and hopefully make a final push to be in Vegas in December,” Smith said.

With only three ProRodeo Tour events remaining, Smith is looking forward to holding his position within the Top 24 to compete at the ProRodeo Tour Finale in Puyallup, Wash., Sept. 5-8.

“I was just out of making it into Puyallup and I think this win is going to get me enough points to get me in,” Smith said.

For now, Smith is going to stay in the Northwest and enjoy escaping the heat back home in Louisiana before running his next calf at the ProRodeo Tour event in Walla Walla, Wash., Tuesday.

Bareback rider Kaycee Feild, a four-time world champion and the leader in the 2019 world standings with $174,191, also scored the victory in Kennewick.

Feild swept the bareback riding, winning the first round with an 86-point ride on Bridwell Pro Rodeos' Raggidy Ann, winning the final round with an 88-point ride on Calgary Stampede's Yipee Kibitz and earning the two-head victory with 174 points. Feild earned $8,136 in Kennewick. 

Other winners of the $325,190 rodeo were steer wrestler Jace Melvin (12.5 seconds on three head); team ropers Erich Rogers/Paden Bray (17.3 seconds on three head); saddle bronc rider Brody Cress (169 points on two head); steer roper Tom Sorey (27.5 seconds on two head); barrel racer Cheyenne Wimberley (34.71 seconds on two runs); and bull rider Eli Vastbinder (170.5 points on two head). Cody Doescher was the all-around cowboy ($4,557, steer roping and team roping).

For more coverage on the ProRodeo Tour’s Horse Heaven / Kennewick Round-Up, check out the Sept. 6 edition of ProRodeo Sports News.

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