My head’s still buzzing. It was almost subconscious movement when I instinctively turned the channel expecting to see the NFR on Sunday and Monday night, but had to remind myself that while 10 days is a long time at one rodeo, it’s a relative blip on the map of life. A very profitable blip for some, but still a short period of time.

Some great, good and frustrating story lines each night and overall. Let’s go over a few of them.

The Minor brothers wrapped up their 10th NFR together with seven go-round checks, a fifth-place average payday and a fifth-place finish in the world standings, both earning more than $207,000 on the year.

“Definitely a lot of stress all week long,” Riley said. “You put your heart and soul in the arena. We’ve got some great sponsors that keep us on the road all year. I just try to take it all in. You just never know when you’re gonna make this rodeo.

“I’m just so thankful to be here,” he continued. “So many guys rope all their lives and never get this opportunity. It’s great, and to get to do it with my brother is even better.”

What now?

Well, the guys drove home to Arizona on Sunday and while the idea of a little R&R sounds nice, Riley said he’ll get bored quick.

“I’ll be back in the practice pen probably Monday,” he said Saturday night.

I didn’t call him yesterday to verify, but I’m sure he backed up in the box a few times.

What are they practicing for? Well, technically the 2020 season began Oct. 1, but Denver is the first huge rodeo come mid-January. Of course, the Columbia River Circuit Finals are the second weekend in January at the SunDome and I’m looking forward to that as well. The Minors don’t plan on any changes to the schedule they’ve perfected for themselves over the years.

“Exact same as every year,” Brady said of the 2020 travel schedule. “Hopefully have a good little lick this winter. It took more than ever to make the finals this year and I expect it to be about the same next year too.”

What else happened? Sage Kimzey proved he’s nearly unbeatable with six straight bull riding titles (and an earnings record of more than $480,000 to go along with it). Speaking of earnings records, both Clayton Biglow ($425,843 in bareback) and Zeke Thurston ($347,056 in saddle bronc) set season earnings records as well.

I shouldn’t be surprised when 14-second patterns around the barrels don’t add up to go-round money. The slowest time to earn a check in barrel racing was 13.97 seconds in the first round. This is the norm. It just shows you the caliber of horses and the expertise of the ladies riding those horses.

For every outstanding performance, there was a cowboy or cowgirl who had a subpar week in Las Vegas. Everybody there earned at least one go-round check except two: Steven Dent and Josh Frost. Dent was so consistent through seven rounds to the point he was third in the bareback average at one point but failed to make a check. Getting bucked off in the eighth and ninth rounds took him out of the average and his 10th round ride was out of the money as well. Frost never made the eight-second whistle on all 10 bull riding outs, but the one time he did (I think it was a low 70 in a later round) he knew he wouldn’t make money so he opted for the re-ride … which bucked him off. Both guys earned 10-grand for making the NFR, but neither earned go-round or average checks.

What else? I enjoyed watching Ty Erickson come in No. 1, lose the lead, and then bounce back from two broken barriers to win the world in bulldogging. That battle between Haven Meged, Tyson Durfey, Shane Hanchey and Riley Pruitt in tie-down was something to watch. It came down to the last calf. Split winners in team roping, with Clay Smith winning buckle No. 2 as the header and Wesley Thorp winning the heeler side. Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira made it interesting though, winning the last three rounds with Nogueira missing the title by less than $11,000.

And let’s wrap up with the Guddat Family picks. Both Brittany and I relied on our life-tested maturity to correctly pick three winners. Adelyn won twice and Delaney was the caboose of the family train with one. Addy and I were correct on Ty Erickson in bulldogging and Addy, Brittany and I all picked Sage Kimzey for bull riding title No. 6. Hailey Kinsel-Lockwood won her second straight barrel title, which made me look good in picking her. Brittany correctly picked Zeke Thurston (saddle bronc) and Haven Meged (tie-down). Delaney’s lone pick? She nodded toward Stetson Wright for the All-Around. I think this might be one of our better years for our picks. I’ll pat myself on the back for that.

Jon Guddat covers rodeo — from the kids to the kids at heart — with a weekly rodeo column in the Daily Record. Contact Jon with story ideas at jonguddat@yahoo.com.

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