Brody Cress rides Summit Pro Rodeo’s Big Iron for 78 points and fourth place during Friday’s saddle bronc round.

With eight rounds left, it’s too early to draw conclusions from the average standings after two days, but local team ropers Riley and Brady Minor have partial claim to the event’s average rankings with a 9.4-second total on two. They’re splitting the lead with Kaleb Driggers and Junior Norgueira after the second day of the 10-day National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

And like the veteran he is, Riley downplayed the early lead in the average.

“Way too early in the week,” the 10-time NFR qualifier said of counting on the average. “It’d be really cool to win the average here because it’s the biggest rodeo of the year to win, but I can only do so much and just rope what the steer gives me.”

The brothers – who split the sixth place in the first round with a 4.7-second steer – duplicated that time on Friday, resulting in a far better third place paycheck of $15,654.

“I guess it was a soft round tonight,” Riley said. “I got the neck, I wanted the horns, but he still handled good. I kind of rolled him just a stride, instead of turning hard, and that sometimes helps keep the steer in check.”

The Ellensburg team now sits in fourth place in both the header and heeler world standings with $125,418 in the bank.

Cowboys and barrel racers usually spend the hours leading up to each evening’s rodeo with autograph sessions, interviews and meet and greets, however, Riley’s focus all day today will be supporting his wife Jordan at the Rope for the Crown world championship breakaway finals.

“This thing’s gonna pay more than $20,000 to win it. It’s a big deal,” he said.

Around the arena

Clay Smith and Jade Corkill won the team roping with a 4.4-second run. The win extends Smith’s lead in the header standings over Driggers, while Corkill jumped Nogueira into the top spot with the $26,231 payday.

The pen of broncs in the saddle bronc event really beat up on the 15 bronc riders Friday. Between buckoffs and penalties, 11 of the riders received no scores, while Jesse Wright’s 89.5 on United Pro Rodeo’s Awesome Sauce won the round.

Marty Yates roped an impressive calf in Friday’s tie-down roping. The Texas roper stopped the clock in 7.3 seconds – the fastest time so far in two rounds this year – for the $26,231 check. More importantly, it puts him 1.1 seconds ahead of Taylor Santos (15.7 seconds to 16.8) in the two-round average.

The margin of victory was much slimmer than that in barrel racing as Dona Kay Rule edged defending world champion Hailey Kinsel by .04 seconds with her 13.69-second run.

Idaho’s Garrett Smith was one of just three cowboys (Sage Kimzey and Boudreaux Campbell) to make bull riding’s eight-second whistle. Smith bested Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Black Gold for 91.5 points.

Two-time steer wrestling world champ Tyler Waguespack won Friday’s bulldogging with a 3.6-second turfing of his steer. The win pushed Waguespack to first in the average by four-tenths of a second over JD Struxness.

Trenten Montero’s 90.5 on Sankey Pro Rodeo’s Prairie Rose won the bareback event.

Today’s third round begins at 6:45.


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