What’s the storyline that resonates with you the most about this year’s National Finals Rodeo, which just wrapped up in Las Vegas? Is it local brothers Riley and Brady Minor finishing No. 3 in the team roping standings? Is it Jake Minor and Garrett Rogers winning go-round 10 after such an up-and-down week in Vegas? What about Hailey Kinsel’s 13.11-second run in round three? How about the race for the All-Around?

Trevor Brazile has 13 All-Around titles and 23 Gold Buckles overall when you consider his buckles in tie-down, team roping and steer roping. Tuf Cooper has three tie-down buckles and while he narrowly missed a fourth, he earned his first All-Around buckle after placing second in the tie-down average. They’re brothers-in-law and their fierce competitors, but with Cooper winning, we might be looking at the new face of the All-Around after Brazile has dominated it since 2002.

Even at 41 years old to Cooper’s 27, Brazile is incredibly competitive in this sport, placing second this year in the All-Around standings and eighth in tie-down. Let’s also remember that he was second in steer tripping and had an uncharacteristic difficult year in team roping with longtime partner Patrick Smith. And maybe I’m looking too much into it, but it’s almost as though he’s passing the torch based on what he told NFR News.

“The sport has a great All-Around world champion. He’s the one that I want my kids looking up to. And that’s who I want in that position for the sport, and so it’s left in good hands that’s for sure.”

If Cooper continues to focus on both steer roping and calf roping (what if he picked up team roping as well?) he’ll continue to be the one to beat in All-Around for the foreseeable future.

What about the absolute dominance in bareback and bull riding? There was very little doubt that Tim O’Connell and Sage Kimzey would earn another Gold Buckle in their respective events, and neither disappointed.

O’Connell bested everyone by more than $100,000 and Kimzey did what no one else has done in any single event: He cleared $400,000 in season earnings. Actually, it was $436,000. While Brazile has earned more than that in a single season, it took three events to amass that. Kimzey has earned more than a million this year alone when you consider PRCA, PBR, The American, Calgary and the CBR earnings. That’s incredible.

But it wasn’t just Kimzey and O’Connell making money in their events. Bareback rider Richmond Champion finished second in the world and earned $167,314 in 10 days. Trey Benton ($181,981) and Joe Frost ($169,923) both earned an incredible amount of cash in bulls. Hailey Kinsel picked up $189,384 in winnings and what a show she put on over the course of 10 days. She placed in the first six rounds, tipped a couple of barrels and then finished with two straight go-round wins. Her third go destroyed the arena record with a 13.11 and finished Saturday night’s 10th round with a 13.17. That’s amazing. And what about the times? Not one 14-second time earned money at all. Every single go-round pays six places and every night, all six places were faster than 14 seconds. That’s the first time that has ever happened in Las Vegas.

There are probably 100 stories for each day at the NFR, but I’ve got one more stat for y’all: The Guddat Family Competition ended in a tie. Both Brittany and I finished with three correct picks. Delaney had two and Adelyn had a single victory.

And finally, it’s not a statistic, but it’s the truth. … A Merry Christmas to all rodeo fans near and far. Before you know it, we’ll be counting down the days to Cowboy Christmas 2018.

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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