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Well, I hate to say, “I told you so,” so I’ll just let my picks to the talking for me. I’m sure everyone wants to know who won the coveted family title of the Guddat Family world championship picks. Yep, it was me.

“Oh hush,” Brittany said. “Of course you did. You have watched, researched and written about rodeo for decades.”

Yes, it’s now been 20+ years, but it’s still difficult to pick the winners.

I correctly tabbed Shad Mayfield (calf roping), Hailey Kinsel (barrels), Jackie Crawford (breakaway) and Stetson Wright (All-Around). Brittany had Jackie and Stetson. Delaney nodded to Ryder Wright (saddle bronc) and Stetson, while Adelyn was the caboose of the train with just Kaycee Feild (bareback) as her lone winner.

“I had faith in my men,” Adelyn said. “Don’t make me feel bad about it.”

Despite only having two winners, Delaney was pretty boastful.

“Because I’m a baddy.”…apparently, I need to brush up on the verbiage of the teenage mind.

We were close on a few other picks, but close doesn’t determine champions.

But what a great National Finals Rodeo. No one was sure what to expect with a change in venue and questions about the payout. Given the fact that 2020 has supplied plenty of drama all year, I guess it’s no surprise there was plenty of drama before the Finals began as COVID protocols knocked two competitors out of arena, two-time world champion calf roper Caleb Smidt and two-time NFR barrel racer Dona Kay Rule.

Here are a few of my favorite storylines:

n It wasn’t clear until the later rounds and I don’t recall it being officially announced until round 10, but it was great to see the payout reach the $10 million we’ve grown accustomed to in Las Vegas. With the massive change of sponsors in this budget-stripping COVID world we live in, I was worried that the $26,000 go-round wins and the $67,000 average wins wouldn’t materialize this year. We felt that Texas and the PRCA did a heckuva job hosting the National Finals Rodeo from our perspective here in the Guddat household.

n Dominant Wright family — Stetson, Ryder and Rusty Wright are brothers who do nothing if not cheer the loudest for each other. Never mind the fact that Ryder won his second saddle bronc world title and never mind the fact that Stetson won his second straight All-Around buckle and first bull riding title. Never mind the fact that Rusty eclipsed $100,000 in NFR earnings again this year. Those dudes are the most fun to watch behind the chutes. I watch one brother ride while the other two go nuts supporting him from the chutes. That never gets old.

n Kaycee Feild and Tim O’Connell battled all year and it came down to the last draw of the night to crown a world champion. Those two have won eight out of the last 10 world championships and while NFR rookie Jess Pope put on a heckuva show himself (winning the average), it was the two world standings stalwarts in Feild and O’Connell who stole the show. Feild now has five buckles to O’Connell’s three.

n Hailey Kinsel and her horse, Sister dominated the barrel racing. They set a standard pattern world record of 16.56 seconds in round eight and won the average by more than three seconds. She won five rounds and placed second in three other rounds. This was her third straight Gold Buckle.

n Sage Kimzey’s reign has world champion bull rider ended at six years as Stetson Wright knocked him off his perch. Kimzey finished fifth in the world standings, but how he ended the 10th round of the NFR is what caught my eye. His best friend, groomsman, traveling partner and fellow bull rider Tyler Bingham was bucked off, pretty badly beat up by his bull in the seventh round and spent some time in the hospital. Bingham was back at the arena watching round nine from the stands, and then he was behind the chutes for the final night of bull riding. Kimzey not only earned 92 points on his 10th round bull, but at the last moment of the ride turned toward the chute and pointed at Bingham before jumping off the bull. That means a lot.

Now we wait. While the 2021 season began October 1st, it’ll actually be 2021 in a couple short weeks. The schedule already has some COVID cancelations (Denver and Fort Worth), but guys are already chomping at the bit to make some money.

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

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