What a weekend of paydays for cowboys and cowgirls. Puyallup gets all the attention as winners there won $10,000-plus, but Lewiston, Idaho; Spokane, Salt Lake City and Ft. Madison, Iowa; also helped put coin in the pockets of many.

First, we’ve got to talk about Puyallup as that was some big-time rodeo which paid out $471,000. That’s huge money anytime of the year, but for a few cowboys on the bubble that was a breath of fresh air. I felt like Richmond Champion was going to be OK after the bareback rider won Ellensburg for the third time in his career earlier this month, but the $16,600 more than guarantees his spot at the NFR now. I’m not sure if he’ll back off a bit or if he’s entered up through the month, but he’s good now.

J.W. Harris isn’t quite there yet, but Puyallup got him closer. The four-time PRCA champion bull rider earned $12,500 and he didn’t even win Puyallup. He’s made $84,000 in PRCA money this year, which puts him 17th in the standings, two spots and $4,500 out of the top 15.

In tie-down roping, Tuf Cooper, Tyson Durfey and Shane Hanchey all have had the NFR wrapped up for a while now, but Puyallup just put another spotlight on the trio who have already been fun to watch. Durfey won Puyallup for $15,109, but Cooper earned $10,141 and Hanchey pocketed $6,629. Hanchey won Lewiston for another $3,804, with Cooper third for $3,003. No disrespect to the others in the top 15, but what a race for the title. With Tyson’s big win, that puts him at $125,535 and barely back into the No. 1 spot that Cooper took from Durfey after Labor Day. Hanchey is within a payday or two of them (with a huge potential Pendleton check this week).

And the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who’s first today, just matters who’s first on Dec. 15.

Let’s talk about Tracy Nowlin. The Oklahoma barrel racer didn’t win anything in Puyallup, but she did win both Spokane and Salt Lake City. The paydays weren’t huge — a combined $2,304 — but anything helps the cowgirl on her way back home. She told me after winning Ellensburg she’s heading home no matter what after Puyallup and will rodeo around Oklahoma. Looking at the WPRA standings, she’s 13th in the world with a $2,900 cushion, definitely not comfortable with three weeks to go.

Let’s discuss some other bubble cowboys: How about Jeff Flenniken and Jake Minor? The duo won checks totaling $1,910 in Lewiston and Spokane, but it’s still not enough to get out of that dreaded 17th/18th position they’ve held for a month. The good thing is they’re keeping pace, the bad thing is they need to be ahead of the pace at this point. Fans will remember Minor and former team roping partner Garrett Rogers winning more than $6,000 at Pendleton in 2016 to seal the deal. I guess Minor and Flenniken will have to do that this year. Nothing like a little late-season drama to make it happen. That’s what Brady and Riley Minor did a few years ago by winning $9,000 on the last weekend of the regular season to make the NFR.

Pendleton and Othello wrap up the Columbia River Circuit schedule this year. And with the circuit finals moving from November to January, we’re going to have to wait a few months until we get some local PRCA rodeo. I’m not happy to wait, but I am glad for the reasoning of the move on the calendar as cowboys and barrel racers who qualify for the circuit finals and Canadian finals don’t have to double up or choose one over the other as the Canadian finals can be lucrative. Just ask Jake Minor who pocketed more than $17,000 in Edmonton in 2016.

Let’s see how things play out this weekend.

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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