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Clayton Biglow sets arena record with 93-point ride

by Matt Naber | Dec 11, 2018

LAS VEGAS – Bareback rider Clayton Biglow had never been on C5 Rodeo’s Virgil.

Biglow was in the Thomas & Mack Center and competing in Round 3 in 2017 at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo when Tim O’Connell tied an arena record on the horse.

On Monday night, Dec. 10, Biglow finally got his chance to climb aboard. He didn’t waste the opportunity.

Biglow notched an arena-record, 93-point ride on Virgil, receiving a standing ovation from the 16,877 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas during Round 5 of the 60th edition of the Wrangler NFR.

Biglow was understandably excited when he saw his name paired with Virgil, the two-time Bareback Horse of the Year.

“Oh, outstanding,” said Biglow, eight days shy of his 23rd birthday. “I’ve been wanting to get on him since the first time I saw him. Before the NFR even started I thought to myself, ‘Well, if there’s a place to draw him it’d be here, that’s for dang sure.’ Last night, when I got the draw and I saw his name next to mine I couldn’t sleep at all. I sat there as happy as could be. I couldn’t shut up about it to my girlfriend.”

Only 10 other cowboys have ever been 93 points or better in the history of the PRCA – six have scored 93, the other four 94.

Biglow and Virgil now stand among the best rides in PRCA history.

“It’s awesome and humbling,” Biglow said. “I’m just happy my name’s up there right now with all the other greats – a lot of people have been 90 points. A bunch of guys in that locker room have also been 90 and set records. To be in that group of guys it’s what I’ve always dreamed of.”

The Clements, Calif., cowboy loved every bit of the ride. He knew it felt good. He knew he’d be in the money. He thought he had a chance to win.

He did more than that, obliterating the arena record by 1.5 points.

“Well, in my mind, I was thinking 89, 90, but I did not think it was going to be 93,” Biglow said.

The victory helped Biglow climb into third place in the PRCA | RAM World Standings with $192,551.

“It gives me that boost of confidence that I can ride against those guys and win,” Biglow said.

O’Connell, the two-time defending world champion, is still in first place with $227,147.


Sundell’s 92-point ride earns Round 5 win

Wade Sundell had a good feeling about Round 5.

He’d won the round in 2013 and 2014. And then he drew Frontier Rodeo’s Medicine Woman, a four-time Saddle Bronc Horse of the Year.

Sundell, 33, passed his feeling along ahead of his ride.

“I told (flankman) Heith Stewart earlier that they (the crowd) were needing to be wowed and that he was about to see something he hadn’t seen in a while,” Sundell said.

Then the Boxholm, Iowa, cowboy went out and rode Medicine Woman for 92 points and yet another Round 5 victory.

“It’s been alright to me, huh?” Sundell laughed. “I was stoked to have that one, and it’s the best she has ever been with me, so I bared down and had fun.”

Sundell and Medicine Woman are familiar with each other. Sundell had another 92-point ride on her in the final round of the 2014 Dodge City (Kan.) Roundup Rodeo. She was more of the same at the Thomas & Mack.

“Yeah, it was everything I figured it would be,” he said. “She wanted to stall out, so I kept gassing on her.”

Sundell is second in the average and up to fifth in the world standings with $168,732 in earnings.

“It’s about time I got back to the old stage and rode a great horse against all the great guys here,” he said.

Defending Saddle Bronc Riding World Champion Ryder Wright continues to lead the world standings.  After placing second Monday, Wright has $232,194 in earnings.


Lummus notches first go-round win in 3.3 seconds

In his first trip to the Wrangler NFR, Will Lummus has his first go-round victory.

The big steer wrestler from West Point, Miss., stopped the clock in 3.3 seconds to win Round 5 and cash in for $26,231.

“It feels great to win, and I bet it feels just as good for Grinder (the horse Lummus rode),” said Lummus, 6-foot-2, 250 pounds. “This is his first trip, as well. We’re just going along and learning and trying to make good runs.”

Grinder belongs to nine-time Wrangler NFR qualifier K.C. Jones, who was also hazing for Lummus during the win.

The pair made a great run Monday night, helping Lummus climb from second to first in the average midway through the 10-day rodeo. Lummus’ time in the average is 20.7 seconds on five head.

The win also has him second in the world standings with $154,355. Curtis Cassidy is first with $157,894.

“This is a dream come true for me,” said Lummus, 26. “It has been great to be out here with a legend like K.C. Jones and being able to rodeo with him and ride his great horses has been a pleasure.”

Lummus’ start was exactly what he needed to grab the win.

“I finally feel like I got the start tonight,” he said. “I’ve been getting decent starts, but I haven’t really got the start and I felt like I got it tonight. Being able to draw a steer like that and have him pick his head up, it was awesome.”


Vastbinder’s 91-point ride earns him first Finals round win

Bull rider Eli Vastbinder is making his first Wrangler NFR appearance this year.

After Monday’s round win, he can say he’s thoroughly enjoying it.

Vastbinder rode Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Record Rack’s Shootin’ Stars for 91 points and his first Wrangler NFR go-round victory.

“It means everything to me,” said Vastbinder, 27. “After the last couple of days, it’s a huge relief. It feels like a weight has been lifted off me.”

Through four rounds Vastbinder had failed to last on a bull. He also had taken his fair share of poundings from the bulls. In Round 5, he got a little revenge.

“Sore for sure, but this helps a lot, and it’s all refreshed me,” Vastbinder said. “I’m ready for five more rounds. In the second round, I came off and put my hand up, and it jammed from my wrist to my shoulder. I have some fractures in my wrist and old ones they found too. But Justin Sportsmedicine has been great to me, hats off to them for doing what they do and helping us out. We couldn’t do it without them.”

The win revitalized Vastbinder.

“I’m ready,” said Vastbinder, of Athens, Texas. “It refreshed me and lifted the weight off me. I’m excited for tomorrow and the day after that. Everyone wants to do well, and there’s a lot of pressure here. We have worked for it our whole lives, at least I have, so when you get here you feel like you have something to prove and that hinders your ability.”

Four-time defending world champion Sage Kimzey added a little money to his pocket with a fifth-place finish. He has $358,853 this season.


Smith/Eaves reclaim top spot in team roping heading, heeling

After watching team roping header Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira move into first place in their respective events, Clay Smith and Paul Eaves answered.

The duo stopped the clock in 3.8 seconds, the top time of this year’s Finals.

Eaves pointed to the steer as a big reason for the quick win.

“The steer was really good, one of the better steers we’ve drawn,” Eaves said. “Everything came together.”

Smith is first in team roping heading with $181,473, while Eaves is first in heeling with the same amount. Driggers and Nogueira are first in the average, while Smith and Eaves are fifth.

“It doesn’t really matter,” Smith said. “We’ve got to keep going at them and seeing how much we can win. It’s only halfway (through the Wrangler NFR), so it doesn’t really matter right now.”

Smith and Eaves have teamed together long enough, they know how to read off each other.

“We’ve roped together long enough it’s not like you’ve got to really talk about it,” Eaves said. “It’s about not trying to press too hard but still be able to win something.”

Despite how much money is available, the duo try not to treat the Finals any differently than they would other rodeos.

“The same as we would at a regular rodeo,” Smith said. “We make sure the horses are warmed up and that’s really it, we just focus on what we need to do. There’s no difference between here and when we go to Odessa (Texas). It’s just the same routine.”


Three-way tie in tie-down roping

Trevor Brazile, Reese Riemer and Ryan Jarrett each stopped the clock in 7.5 seconds to force a three-way split for first in tie-down roping in the fifth round, Monday.

Brazile again extended his PRCA record for go-round wins at the Wrangler NFR – in tie-down roping and team roping – and the National Finals Steer Roping. A night after winning Round 4, Brazile tied for the win in Round 5, giving him 70 go-round victories between the two finals.

“This feels good,” said Brazile, 42. “It was a good calf, and so many things happened right there. I didn’t think (that time would hold on). I was the second roper out, and so many of those guys were making great runs. I was happy to be tying them and not getting beat.”

Jarrett hasn’t had the easiest time of it at the 60th Finals. Monday was the second time he’d roped his calf.

“It feels really good, and I’m glad to break the ice,” said Jarrett, who was riding Snoopy. “It has been a rough week. I have not had any luck. I’m glad to get this win and get a good check.”

Riemer, 28, is on his third trip to the Finals. But Monday night marked his first go-round win at the Wrangler NFR.

“Words can’t express how good this feels,” he said. “I was just telling these guys, this was the 25th calf I’ve ever run in this building and this was my first victory lap. It was exciting.”

The earnings for Brazile (the three each took home $20,872) helped him extend his lead in the all-around cowboy race. He has won $291,257 in all-around. His lead over brother-in-law Tuf Cooper is $28,073.


Conrado keeps cashing checks

For the third time in five rounds, barrel racer Ivy Conrado pocketed a check.

But this time it was a first-place check.

Conrado rode JLo and stopped the clock in 13.49 seconds to win Round 5 and make $26,231.

“It does (take the pressure off), especially after (hitting a barrel) last night,” Conrado said. “I think it’s best just not to let that stuff get in your head and bring you down. Every night is a new night here and you never know what’s going to happen here in Vegas. So, if you get the chance to try and go fast, it’s fun, and if you can be in the average that’s even more fun.”

Conrado is ninth in the average and seventh in the world standings with $154,501. Hailey Kinsel continues to lead with $260,584.

A year ago, Conrado split Round 5 with Lisa Lockhart. This time she’s going to the South Point to take the stage on her own.

“I’m really excited,” said Conrado, of Hudson, Colo. “Kenny Nichols and James Barron own my yellow mare JLo – I say she’s mine, but they own her. I was really excited that they let me have her, and this win means so much to them. They don’t know it yet, but I got Montana Silversmiths to make a copy of the go-round buckle that we won last year and put JLo’s name on it. I’m going to give it to them tonight.”


Moore continues to lead RAM Top Gun race

Barrel racer Amberleigh Moore, of Salem, Ore., is still at the forefront for the RAM Top Gun standings.

Halfway through the 60th edition of the Wrangler NFR, Moore is at the top of the standings with $93,346.

Tie-down roper Marty Yates is second with $75,788.



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