Gold-Buckle Chances: NFR Veterans Sound Off on 2020 Team Roping Championship Scenarios
Some of the long-best headers and heelers in the world—who've been in tough 10th-round battles themselves—weigh in on the 2020 PRCA Team Roping World standings heading into the 10th Round of the 2020 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Trevor Brazile

I’m going to go with Luke Brown and Joseph Harrison. I’m pulling for Luke to get one of those shiny buckles. He’s older than I am and he deserves one. That $700 might as well be whatever sixth place pays. If somebody else is in a scenario where they have to rope too aggressive for their average position, they’ll know that before they go. If they move up a spot in the average at all, they just have to knock them down. 

Jamie Arviso Photo

At third in the average, Nelson Wyatt and Levi Lord need go-round money to give themselves a chance, and anything can happen when you’re in that spot. 

Erich Rogers has headed outstanding. He might have headed better than anybody this week. He hasn’t missed one. They’re going to have to go early in the round. When Erich ropes, as things stand, he’ll have to win second or better in the round to give himself a chance at a gold buckle. That’s so much stress right there. If they go out, they’ll drop down to fourth in the average. Erich has to gamble a lot to have a shot at a gold buckle.

Kaleb Driggers

I think that Luke will pull it off. He has been in this situation before and he’s going to be going last out and know exactly what he has to do to be the champ and he will get it done.

Jake Link Photos Courtesy Austin Robertson

Him and Erich have roped great all week. I think Erich will hold his spot and win the average. I’m curious to see if he will go at this one a little more to give himself a chance to win the world or if he will solidify his average win and see where the chips fall.

You can never count Clay [Smith] out either though—crazy things happen in the 10th round. He knows what it takes to be the champ, and if a couple people allow him to move up in the average, he will be a contender.

The heeling looks to me like it’s going to be left up to the headers. Naturally they will still have to do their job, but it is so close that whoever has the most aggressive header for highest placing in the round will win the world.

I’m rooting for everyone to do a great job and I am anxious to see who comes out on top. Best of luck to all.

Turtle Powell

I’m picking Luke Brown and Joseph Harrison. I think Luke is going to finish strong. He messed up already, and it fell on a half head. 

But as for Erich Rogers and Paden Bray, I don’t think that boy will miss. I think Rogers has him dialed in and heeling. But Luke’s had his bobble and it’s out of the way. He’s the best header at the NFR no matter where you have it. But these steers are stepping left, and any one of these headers could get cut off and taken out of it. The draw could be a factor, but Rogers, Luke and Clay Smith are all sticking no matter what.

Matt Sherwood

Hubbell Rodeo Photo

I would say Luke Brown has to be the favorite. Dustin Egusquiza had bad luck and that almost killed their chances. The longshots and weird scenarios, I don’t think Rogers has a chance even if he wins the average. 

Nelson Wyatt and Levi Lord have an outside chance. Half the guys are just trying to catch and they just catch, and the other half are trying to win the round and miss. The bottom four holes are easy to win something in. Luke and Joseph can go be 4.8 pretty easy. I think they’ll win fourth in the round and stay where they are or move up in the average. 

If Clay and Jade [Corkill] have a mathematical chance, they’ll go for it and either win it or mess up trying. They’re my second choice.

Ryan Motes

Luke Brown and Joseph Harrison are my pick. Rogers needs to go for it tonight to have a chance at the gold buckle, but really, whoever places the highest is going to win the world.

Jamie Arviso Photo

Jade is one full steer down behind Joseph in the average, and he’s slower in the average. He’ll have to win at least $8,000 more than either Joseph or Paden in the go-round. It boils down to the fact that everyone was really close coming into the Finals. 

It’s crazy that Rogers will rope fifth out in the round tonight. The average makes a big difference, but it makes a bigger difference tonight. Nelson Wyatt and Levi Lord and Jeff Flenniken and Tyler Worley go early in the round, and they’re practically tied with Luke and Joseph in the average. For them, a catch matters, but if they go out, their chances go way down if Rogers goes at this one. Flenniken and Worley and Wyatt and Lord drop dramatically with a no-time. But Paden will need to place in the round to have a good shot if you assume one of the other two (Joseph or Jade) will place. 

If Nelson and Flenniken knock their steers down and make good runs, Luke and Joseph will have to be aggressive at theirs. I’m still thinking Luke and Joseph have the best chance. That’s what’s on paper. There’s a real possibility the world title is split this year, though. Whichever one is faster tonight will make the difference. There won’t be a layup. 

It dang sure could split, but Luke and Joseph have the best chance. Nelson Wyatt and Levi Lord are in there, and if for some reason Erich and Paden and Jeff Flenniken and Tyler Worley took a no-time, that will change a whole lot. I don’t think Rogers will miss. I think he’ll press for how he ropes, but he’ll rely on Luke and Joseph having to press. This round can be soft. It can be tough, but it can also be soft. In 2015, Kollin [VonAhn] won something like fifth in the round with a leg and still moved up far enough in the average that I lost the world by $5,000. They moved up three spots in the average when [Colby] Lovell and JoJo [LeMond] lost their ropes. 

The other thing is that, if you just have to catch one like Dustin and TG did the other day, it’s hard. It’s not an easy run-’em-down scenario. Now that I’ve said all that, I think Luke and Joseph will win it. If there’s ever been a setup good for Luke, it’s this one. He’s bringing heat straight to the horn. TRJ

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