by Chris Dize
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LAS VEGAS – The victory train that is Stetson Wright is unstoppable.

In Round 8, the Milford, Utah cowboy won his first saddle bronc riding round and added his third bull riding round win Thursday before 17,506 spectators at the 2022 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Teton Ridge at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Wright had a 90.5-point ride on Bar T Rodeo’s Hell Boy to capture the Round 8 victory.

Then, he came back a short time later and split the bull riding victory with 90.5-point ride on Bar T Rodeo’s Angels Landing. Ky Hamilton, who is Wright’s traveling partner, shared the Round 8 win as he was 90.5 points aboard Dakota Rodeo’s Bubba G.

“I mean it was just awesome. I’ve only won both events one time at the 2020 NFR in Round 7 and I’ve craved that moment ever since,” said Wright, 23. “It’s such a hard thing to do. It means you were better than 28 other guys in a night and that’s insane. I ended up drawing well and the best thing about it was that both of my matchups were from Utah.

“Best round win I’ve ever had in my life. This is an unforgettable moment for us. We travel together all the time and are around each other 24/7. We’ve been to the NFR for three years together so to get this round win together, it’s awesome.”

Wright has earned $295,765, counting ground money in bull riding. Wright holds the record for most money won at a single NFR when he earned $313,898 in 2020 in Arlington, Texas, at Globe Life Field.

Hamilton also was excited about his eight seconds of work.

“I’d seen that bull before, but I’ve never been on him,” Hamilton said. “He’s a big bucking bull with a lot of up and down in him, the kind that I really like. I knew he’d suit me well and he was everything I thought he was going to be, and it worked out well.

“It’s funny, I don’t get nervous here at all. It’s almost like something’s wrong with me. It’s weird. It’s the biggest rodeo and I don’t feel anything. I feel exactly how I feel right now when I’m getting on. I believe that works in my favor because in bull riding it’s all about reaction and being able to adjust to what the bull is doing. It’s not a bad place to be calm, cool, and collected.”

Already at the NFR, Wright has set the single-season PRCA earnings record, all-around single-season record and bull riding single-season record – he had not won a round in saddle bronc riding until Thursday.

“I would say that was the best thing that happened to me this week,” Wright said about being bucked off in Round 7 in saddle bronc riding. “It sounds really weird, but when you exit yourself from the average race, all of the stress is off. I’m still in the World Title race and now I can focus on winning rounds. I’ve never been an average rider and I felt like me getting bucked off last night reminded me that I wasn’t.

“I don’t think there’s a bull or a horse that should buck me off. I know that happened last night, but I feel as confident as ever,” Wright said. “I’m just having fun.”

Wright, who is the reigning PRCA Saddle Bronc Riding World Champion, is second in the world standings with $299,887. He is splitting sixth in the average.

Wright leads the bull riding world standings with $509,599 and he’s first in the average with 602 points on seven head. Wright also leads the RAM Top Gun standings with $156,201.

Hamilton is sixth in the world standings with $212,657.

Proctor/Medlin tie Round 8 record in win

Coleman Proctor/Logan Medlin split the Round 5 with a 3.8-second run. They were celebrating again in Round 8 as they won in 3.5 seconds, tying the Round 8 record set by Travis Tryan and Cory Petska in 2008.

“Anytime you can beat the top 15 in the world, especially Kaleb Driggers (and Junior Nogueira) by half a second, that’s an amazing night.”

Medlin was direct with is plan.

“All I’m thinking about is (Friday night),” Medlin said.

Proctor/Medlin also split the Round 5 win in 3.8 seconds.

Proctor and Medlin are fifth in their respective header and heeler standings with $188,234. They are sixth in the average.

Bareback rider Leighton Berry wins his second round at 2022 NFR

Before the 2022 Wrangler NFR, Leighton Berry had never won a round at the Wrangler NFR. Now he has two on his resume.

Berry, who won Round 2, added a Round 8 victory with an 88-point ride on Powder River Rodeo’s Knot So Foxy.

“I don’t remember much of that one,” Berry said. “She kind of had me out of whack. It was one of those deals where I had to bear down and keep spurring. Tonight’s the night where you have to give it your all. You can’t quit. All these horses are going to be trying to jerk you down and make a guy look funny. You have to just stay back and keep setting your feet hard and the judges liked it so I’m thankful.”

Berry is second in the world standings with $242,091. He has earned $111,897 at the NFR.

“There are two rounds left and that for me means there are two more chances to win a go-round,” said Berry, 23. “I pretty much took myself out of a top average position because I was only 72 in Round 1. The rest of the seven rounds have gone great. I’m going to finish out as strong as I possibly can, and we will see how it shakes out.”

Hunter Herrin wins Round 8 in tie-down roping

Round 8 of the Wrangler NFR has been special for Hunter Herrin.

For the second year in a row, the Apache, Okla., cowboy won Round 8 at the NFR. His latest accomplishment came Thursday with his 7.2-second run. A year ago, he won Round 8 with a 7.1 second run.

“(I’ve) been pretty sick all week but these last couple of nights have made it a little better,” said Herrin, who is making his 12th NFR appearance.

Herrin is fifth in the world standings with $211,045. He has earned $96,275 at the NFR.

“It’s been my best run,” said Herrin, 38. “Last night I had a chance to go seven something  and I kind of balled my string a little bit but tonight I was able to put it all together and stay out of my own way. If you do that, you might not win first but you can live with it – as long as you compete to the best of your ability, you can live with that.

“I just need to be the same as the last two nights. First and foremost, I have to get a good flat start. My horse is standing out in the box, and he can really get across there and gives me a good throw. The last two nights I’ve done that. And if that’s the case, it gives me a good chance to win something if the calves allow it so that’s just going to be our game plan: good starts.”

Waguespack, Lummus split steer wrestling win

Tyler Waguespack has won three world titles, including last year. Will Lummus is chasing his first gold buckle.

The duo stayed in the gold buckle hunt by splitting the Round 8 with identical 3.6-second runs.

“They were 4-flat both times on that steer, I knew if I could keep him on his feet, I would be able to shape him and make a good run to get the win,” Waguespack said.

Lummus had this to say about his result.

“I knew the steer was good, he left sharp, the steer was great, I had to take a chance at the barrier, Clayton Haas did a great job on the haze and it all just worked out,” Lummus said.

Lummus is riding Benz owned by Haas.

“He’s an amazing animal, a little tough in the box, but when you get him lined out, he’s one of the easiest animals I have ever ridden,” Lummus said.

Lummus is second in the world standings with $231,212 and Waguespack is third with $201,727.

“Really at this point there is just excitement to make a good run and try to put myself in the mix for the average and the Gold Buckle,” Lummus said.

Waguespack has a simple plan moving forward.

“I’ve been in these situations before, so not really nerves, but just the energy of the run and trying to win,” Waguespack said.

Barrel racer Leslie Smalygo wins first career NFR round

Leslie Smalygo made her first trip to the Wrangler NFR even more memorable on Thursday.

The Oklahoma cowgirl won Round 8 with a 13.41-second time, the fastest run in barrel racing so far at this NFR.

“It’s a complete dream come true. I thought it was just a pipedream to make it out here. Gus is the only horse I rode all year and he’s the only one I took with me,” Smalygo said. “He’s just been so honest all year and exceeded any expectations I had. I was just hoping to be in the thirteens (seconds) this week so to win a round, I never thought we had this in us.”

Smalygo is seventh in the world standings with $158,343.

Article Courtesy of PRCA

Photo By: Click Thompson

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