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While I know rodeo never stops — even in this COVID-dominated world you can find some sort of jackpot, if not a sanctioned rodeo somewhere — it still seems like it’s been forever since we’ve been able to discuss rodeo. Well, with the National Finals Steer Roping coming upon us this weekend, now is as good of a time as any to take a hard look at the ins and outs of the top 15 ropers descending upon Mulvane, Kansas.

Cole Patterson leads the standings coming into the NFSR, but it isn’t much of an advantage. The two-time NFSR competitor leads four-time world champion Scott Snedecor by less than $1,400 and with each of the 10 go-round winners earning $9,155 per night, it’s easy to see that no lead is safe. In fact, last year’s champion — seven-time steer roping champion Trevor Brazile — didn’t win the title until the 10th and final round was complete. To be even more dramatic, Brazile was the last to rope for the entire NFSR, so the entire season literally came down to the last steer.

After Patterson and Snedecor, 17-time qualifier Vin Fisher, Jr., Brazile and four-time qualifier Landon McClaugherty round out the top five and all are within $8,000 of each other.

I sat down with my three girls a bit ago to really drill down strategies and scenarios, but then I remembered who I was talking to: two teenaged, boy-crazy girls. So, hold up while I pull up pictures of the cowboys because we all know they’re making their world champ pics based off a cowboy’s picture.

Adelyn went really supernatural on us this year, as my 13-year old tried to connect via shared brain waves with the family cat. “Reagan, move your tail if you want Tuf Cooper.” Reagan’s response: Well, nothing, but I guess her tail did move, so Tuf Cooper it is.

Delaney expertly played the role of 16-year old daughter where she barely paid attention to me. I asked her who she thought would win, she talked over me, and instead told her sister about some dude she saw while in the middle of cheer practice. Oh OK. So, we’ve got a vote for some random, cute high schooler to win the steer roping Gold Buckle.

My kids drive me crazy, y’all, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

As for Brittany, she asked who No. 1 was in the standings and said, “yeah, I’ll take him.” So, Cole Patterson gets the nod.

The last 15 Gold Buckles have been won by Brazile (seven), Snedecor (four) and Rocky Patterson (four). The odds to win another are better for Brazile and Snedecor than they are for Patterson (in 14th place) simply because of the lead they have over him. However, I’ll buck the trend of picking one of the trifecta winning again and nodding toward Fisher, Jr. The Texan is one of the more accomplished steer ropers without a title and I believe that ends this year. Fisher, Jr., has finished second twice, third five times and has been in the top five a total of nine times in his previous 16 qualifications. This is his year to jump from third to first in the final standings.

Now we’ll wait for the weekend to tell us if we’re any good with our picks. Good luck to the top 15 steer ropers in the world.

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

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