Cody Reed and Jace McDaniel had two goals in 2023: Make the Great Lakes Circuit Finals (North American Championship Rodeo) and win the average title. They sealed the deal Saturday, Nov. 11, in Louisville, Kentucky, after winning the first two rounds.
Reed and McDaniel, both of Jonesboro, Arkansas, also won the circuit finals in 2020 but missed out on the Ram National Circuit Finals (now the NFR Open). They split the title with Cooper Bruce and Reed Boos, and the single fastest run between the two teams won the tiebreaker. Bruce and Boos edged them out.
Reed, 31, and McDaniel, 35, grew up just down the road from each other, and they’re certain the lifelong friendship plays a huge role in their circuit success.
“We’ve just ran so many steers together,” McDaniel said. “We know what each other’s going to do, and we don’t get mad at each other if one messes up. Nobody misses on purpose, and we’re both trying. I think being close friends is a big thing, too.”
They took home $8,606 after roping two steers in 11.6 seconds inside a sold-out building that was electric with energy.
“I think it’s the closest thing to the NFR for guys that just don’t do it like everybody else does for a living,” McDaniel said. “The Great Lakes did a very good job at putting together a rodeo with a huge crowd and the way it’s ran and everything. You can’t get any better I don’t think.”
Breaking it down
Reed and McDaniel started out with a bang, winning Round 1 with a 5.2 for $2,459 a man.
“We were fourth out and we got to watch a couple go, and our game plan was just to make the best run we could,” said Reed, who was riding his 10-year-old gelding, Trump. “We had a video of the steer, so we kind of knew what he was going to do, and I just wanted to be as close on the barrier as I could and just make a good run to see where the chips fell.”
In Round 2, things quickly fell apart with a lot of no times. Reed and McDaniel drew a steer they could capitalize on and that’s exactly what they did, winning the round with a 6.4.
“We got to go last and it just kind of fell apart,” said McDaniel, who rode his buckskin named Shooter. “Joe [Beaver] won second on our steer (in the first round), so we knew he was a good steer. Cody just headed him and let me look over him, and the round was soft, so I just kicked over him and made sure to catch him.”
The third round was a tough one for nearly every team as only three of the 12 caught their steers. Reed and McDaniel were unable to stop the clock, but their time on two was good enough to secure the average and $3,688 for them.
“After watching [the third round] play out, I actually knew we won the average before we ever ran him,” Reed said. “I guess all the pressure was off and I feel like we might’ve played it a little too safe instead of just doing what we know how to do and just tried to catch, which thank goodness it didn’t matter if we caught or missed.”
Farewell tour for Reed?
Going into 2023, Reed warned McDaniel that this would be his last year of ProRodeo. Reed and his wife, Lindsey, both love to rope and, each year, trying to make the World Series Finale is a major priority for them.
“Our goal for the year-end was to go the World Series Finale,” Reed said. “And the only way we could afford it is if literally we would just go to one roping a month and kind of put our money together so we could go rope out there.”
But, with a ticket punched to the 2024 NFR Open, Reed will yet again buy his PRCA card, just undetermined on what the year will actually look like for him.
“I told Jace all year that this is my last year regardless of what happens and, now, I’m eating my words, which is a good thing,” Reed said. “It’s a goal that I would like to accomplish. I’ve never made the [NFR Open]. I look forward to getting to go accomplish more goals and don’t know how much rodeoing I’m going to do, but I’ll get to check a few rodeos off my bucket list that I’ve always wanted to enter.”