On the final performance at the WCRA Cowtown Christmas Championships, recently crowned PRCA World Champions, Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira showed out to win the day money—and two additional teams earned their place in the Showdown Round on Saturday night.
“We just wanted to make sure to get out, because we knew if we made a clean run we could win it,” Driggers said. “I was a little nervous because I was trying a new horse. I just wanted to feel him out.”
Backing in the box last in the field definitely had perks on Friday, December 16. The team roping started out with misses, but things started to turn around when Cody Wheeler and Tydaniel Haller posted a smooth 5.59-second run to get a time on the board and later earn $1,200 a man for second-place money. 2020 NFR qualifier Nelson Wyatt ran down a hard-running steer, and multiple-time NFR qualifier Buddy Hawkins cleaned up the heels in 8.19, which was good enough for third place, and $800 each. Driggers and Nogueira were last out in the field, and made a 4.75 look effortless. Although they were already seeded into the Showdown Round thanks to their No. 1 Virtual Rodeo Qualifier leaderboard position, the guys still took home $1,600 and the two teams below them earned Showdown Round Positions.
Timon, the buckskin roan raised by New Mexico’s Kiehne family and trained by Kenny Brown, is the horse Nogueira has counted on for the majority of his record-setting regular season in 2022. Fort Worth was no different.
“We just made a good run, Kaleb did a good job,” Nogueira said. “I got a little to the inside, but got around and got him caught.”
Driggers and Nogueira earned the gold medal and $50,000 each in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the Days of 47 Rodeo in July 2022, and they’re looking for a repeat at the Cowtown Christmas Championships. For the back-to-back world champions, the WCRA simply makes sense—and it’s a bonus when there’s a chance to snag $15,000 just down the road from their homes in Stephenville and Lipan, Texas.
“It’s always fun to come to come to Cowtown and the WCRA does a great job,” Driggers said. “There’s so much money at these deals and you get to nominate where you’re already going—no extra fuel charge or anything like that. They also have the weekly bonuses, where you can win your money back on nominations if you have a good week. We really enjoy them and plan to keep coming back.”
To sweeten the deal, heir 1,600 points on the VRQ leaderboard after their round win locked in both Driggers’ and Nogueria’s rights to the VRQ $25,000 bonus that is awarded at the end of each calendar year to the highest point-earning athletes in each event.