Jake Pratt at Saturday NFR

Jake Pratt competes in the final round on the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas in 2018.

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For so many this year, there hasn’t been a whole lot of good to talk about when it comes to success on the rodeo trail. That changed for one cowboy last weekend.

Jake Pratt dominated the calf roping in Greeley, Colo., last weekend, winning four checks at the National Circuit Finals Rodeo.

Wait? National Circuit Finals…in September…in Greeley? C’mon now, in a year where everything is turned upside down and sideways, that’s expected to include the rodeo schedule. So instead of traveling to Kissimmee, Fla., for the finals in April, the PRCA navigated around COVID-19 and found a venue and a spot on the calendar. The change of scenery obviously affected sponsors, which certainly determines payout, but even with a noticeable dip in money paid, it’s always a good time to make money.

“Man, oh man, yessir,” Pratt said by phone on Tuesday. “It’s funny what a little change in your pocket will do.”

Pratt split the go-round win (with Jesse Popescul) in the first round for $2,813 after his 9.2-second run.

“It probably helped that I was in the first performance. Turns out the calves were really strong. Being third out, I was just trying to do the best I could, we were just faster than everyone else.”

Pratt was out of the money in the second round.

“I had one that really ran,” he said. “At that point I just knew I had to get a decent one tied.”

His 21.3 aggregate on two helped him win the two-round average by two-tenths of a second over Bryce Bott for another $3,201.

The top eight in the average made the semifinals and Pratt’s 10.2 won the round for another $3,880. The top four in the semifinals weren’t playing around in the final round and Pratt’s 8.5-second calf bested Cody Huber by nearly a second for a duplicate $3,880.

“I got a really good start the second day on both of my calves,” he said.

Those good starts helped him win $13,774 on the weekend.

“A lot of good rodeo happens with momentum,” he said.

Pratt was in Abilene, Texas this morning and he finds out Monday if he’s qualified for the Tour Finale. As of today, he’s in, but Gooding, Idaho, is the final stop on the ProRodeo Tour and it all depends on who wins what in Idaho if Pratt stays in the top 24 in the standings. If he makes it, he’s on the road to Rapid City, SD. That’s not the easiest trip to make in a day, but he’ll certainly drive the 1,000 miles from his home Stephenville, Texas, to southwest South Dakota for another chance at good money.

Another trip he and many others will make is to Hermiston, Ore., for the Columbia River Circuit Finals. Usually scheduled for early January in Yakima, the PRCA decided to change that to the first weekend in October to get that rodeo in now, before the unknown of “The Rona” kept forcing cancelations. I guess that’s the world we live in now. Don’t believe me? Denver’s National Western Stock Show and Rodeo already announced the cancelation of its rodeo in mid-January and that’s a big one. Better get the circuit finals done now before the rules change again.

Things are certainly different this year, but no matter the difference money and momentum still keep the wind in your sails. Good luck to all of those still roping and riding for money in late September.

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

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