As rodeo's abbreviated ProRodeo season winds quickly to a close over the next two weeks, 2018 NFR average champ Trey Yates sits 15th in the PRCA world standings, a mere $76.24 ahead of eight-time NFR heeler Kyle Lockett—with a pool of other top talent nipping at their heels.
Pueblo, Colorado's Yates has $41,304.84 in season earnings behind two-time World Champ Matt Sherwood, and the duo has eight rodeos left on the schedule for the year. That includes the PRCA's Tour Finale in Rapid City, South Dakota (which invites the top 24 in the PRCA Tour Standings) that offers $40,000 per side in added money.
"I shouldn’t say I’m not nervous," Yates, 25, said. "But I mean, whatever is meant to be will be. I’ve got confidence, and if it works, it works. If it doesn’t I’ll try it again next year."
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Visalia, California's Kyle Lockett estimates he's got six rodeos left on the books behind World Champion Aaron Tsinigine, also including the Tour Finale. Lockett has $41,228.60 in earnings.
"We just need to get to catching," Lockett, 42, said. "It’s hard, you know, because it seems like the bottom guys are the ones who are out there still. There’s a good chance the bottom half of the field will be getting checks because the top half has quit, so every check goes to one of the bottom."
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Lockett also holds the distinction of being the only man on the bubble awaiting the birth of a child during rodeo's final weeks. His wife, Leigh, is scheduled to be induced Sept. 30 with their fifth child.
"As long as we can keep it held in we’ll be good," Lockett laughed. "I've been home for every other one of my kids' births, so I'm hoping we'll be fine for this one too. I don't have any planes chartered or anything."
Chase Tryan is 17th with $39,246.48, $2,058.36 out of the top 15. He too will get to rope at Rapid City, and he's got Brenten Hall giving him the same look every run.
"It’s never fun but it’s better than not having a chance though," Tryan said. "It makes a person wish they’d have roped better throughout the year. I've got eight rodeos left, and I’m just excited for any steer I get to run now."
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Jake Edwards, the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo champ from New York, is staying hooked through his first full season out West at 18th with $38,146.94 won. He's entered in perhaps the most rodeos of the bubble bunch with 10 on the books.
"I'm a little stressed," Edwards, 21, said. "Not really stressed I guess, but just trying to get everything lined out to try to make everything work. But, I don’t think we’ll be able to make all 10 work really. We didn’t get up right at Stephenville, so we’ll probably have to turn Stephenville out, and I don’t think we’ll make Spring Hill, Louisiana, because we didn't get up right at Gooding. And Gooding is a tour rodeo so we’ll have to be there."
Ryan Motes, heeling for Coleman Proctor, has $35,602.20 in 2020 earnings and is 19th.
“We’re going to have to win something at Rapid City," Motes said. "I think $45,000 might be OK. All the rodeos are just small enough I don’t think you can win $8,000 to $10,000 before then. You need to win something that last Saturday. Anybody in my position, you can’t quit before Rapid City because you can win $10,000 between there and Stephenville. If you win that much and you didn't go everywhere you could before that, and you miss it by $1,000, you'd not be very happy. We got up to where we can go to almost all of them, so we'll have to fly twice."
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Two-time World Champion Patrick Smith sits 20th heeling for Luke Brown, and the duo lead the Salt Lake City Utah's Own Rodeo with a 4.6-second run at press time. Smith has $33,453.91 won, and Salt Lake has $4,000-added per side, meaning it will likely pay around $2,500 to win.
"I've had a lot of years that I felt a lot better about where I'm sitting," Smith, of Lipan, Texas, said. "I've got the Tour Finale and anything is possible. We have a new head horse we both really like. If I can hang on and win good at Salt Lake, that would put me in good spot heading into the Tour Finale and Stephenville."
Update: Since this original writing, Smith and Brown split the win in Salt Lake City, worth $2,668 each and moving Smith ahead of Motes in the standings. TRJ
PRCA World HEELING Standings Top 15 as of Sept. 11, 2020
1 Jade Corkill, $67,357.43
2 Joseph Harrison, $65,151.80
3 Jake Long, $57,680.93
4 Buddy Hawkins II, $56,590.36
5 Logan Medlin, $54,017.84
6 Travis Graves, $53,672.64
7 Shay Dixon Carroll, $53,427.07
8 Junior Nogueira, $53,080.58
9 Paden Bray, $51,201.57
10 Paul Eaves, $50,928.13
11 Tyler Worley, $48,255.64
12 Levi Lord, $46,629.56
13 Hunter Koch, $45,309.14
14 Wesley Thorp, $43,307.86
15 Trey Yates, $41,304.84
16 Kyle Lockett, $41,228.60
17 Chase Tryan, $39,246.48
18 Jake Edwards, $38,146.94
19 Ryan Motes, $35,602.20
20 Patrick Smith, $33,453.91