Decisions, decisions. Some work out, other times they don’t. As discussed in last week’s column, Oct. 1 is always the date that makes rodeo cowboys and barrel racers look back to see which decisions made sense. Sept. 30 is the end of the regular season, Oct. 1 is the “what could I have done differently?” date.

Jake Minor made the decision to unofficial Mona, Utah, this past weekend. Cowboys only have a limited number of rodeos to count toward the world standings and with Minor at the limit, he needed to decide which rodeo to count and which to unofficial. Minor, heeling for Jeff Flenniken most of the year after trying a couple of partners this winter, had two rodeos to count and three on the schedule this weekend. In addition to Mona, the team went to Poway and San Bernardino in California, and all three paid about the same. They were no good in California but won Mona for $1,978. The money counts for the wallet, but for Minor, doesn’t count in the world standings. Let’s pour salt in the wound by looking at the standings. Flenniken pretty much needed to win in all three places and needed others to falter, but Minor needed just a little bit. He’ll end the season just $1,501 out of the top 15. Had he counted Mona’s $1,978, he … well, you can figure that out.

Let’s look at positives: It was a pretty dang good team this year. Flenniken will win the rookie of the year for headers as the duo won nearly $62,000 together. Easy for me to say because I’m just an armchair roper here, but that’s something to look forward to as 2019 starts.

Who else had a near-miss for the National Finals? JJ Elshere was $368 out of saddle bronc’s top 15. Think about that for a moment, that’s sixth place at an $80,000 one-header sometime this year.

Calf roper Ryan Jarrett snuck in at 15th place, just $492 ahead of Blane Cox and $582 ahead of Adam Gray in 17th place. Jarrett was able to hold off both ropers this past weekend and winning Kingman, Ariz., for $902 and placing at Mona certainly helped. Gray won money in Apache, Okla., and New Braunfels, Texas, and both he and Cox won checks in Stephenville, Texas, as well. Cox picked up a small check in Mona, too.

I’ve seen closer calls, but let’s localize these guys a bit more. Who won Ellensburg’s tie-down this year? Mr. Jarrett did to the tune of $8,144. Jarrett doesn’t win the average or let’s say he doesn’t place as well earlier that week and we’re talking about someone else going to the NFR.

Who else didn’t quite make it? That would be four-time bull riding world champion J.W. Harris, but it’s not as though he wasn’t trying. The Texas cowboy earned $7,728 with checks in New Braunfels, Texas, Mitchell, S.D., and Ft. Smith, Arkansas. He’s 16th in the world, just $627 behind Trevor Kastner.

Harris finished with nearly $94,000 in season earnings and won’t go to the NFR. That was unheard of just a year or two ago.

How about a couple of numbers that will make you shake your head in a good way? Tuf Cooper will go into next month’s steer tripping finals with the most money ever earned in the regular season with $89,427. Sage Kimzey did the same in bull riding, pocketing nearly $300,000 this year with the NFR still to come. I’d say there’s a good chance he’ll best his record from last year with overall earnings of $436,479.

Plenty of time to dissect and trade ideas before the Finals. What a heckuva season.

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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