Jeff Flenniken is tightening the gap between him and Chad Masters, who is currently 15th in the PRCA world standings, now $117.57 behind after a win at the Jerome (Idaho) County Fair and Rodeo, which paid out $1,767 to both Flenniken and Tyler Worley and Brenten Hall and Chase Tryan after both teams stopped the clock in 5.2 seconds.
Flenniken, 24, of Caldwell, Idaho, now has $37,460.34 in season earnings, putting him 16th in the PRCA world standings behind Two-time World Champion Chad Masters who is on the bubble with $37,577.91.
"It's a little nerve-wracking, but I'm thankful to have a shot at least," Flenniken said.
Flenniken, who won the Resistol Rookie of the Year Heading title in 2018, is motivated now more than ever after coming up short in PRCA earnings to qualify for the Wrangler NFR that same year, finishing 17th in the PRCA world standings with $61,825.58.
"I feel a lot more confident than I did then [in 2018]," Flenniken said. "I want to be there [the NFR] so bad. I feel like I'm capable of being there, and it's what I work for. I feel like I have a better chance. I didn't really think that I deserved to be there back then."
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Their run in Jerome, Idaho launched Flenniken straight to No. 1 in the Columbia River Circuit standings with $1,767.34 in total circuit earnings.
"A lot of the steers were super strong, and we kind of knew that we had a little bit of a better one," Flenniken said. "We just tried to make sure that the steer didn't go right—kept it really straight. I got a pretty good start. The rodeo wasn't super tough, so I just took an extra swing, went all the way to him and Tyler heeled him fast. We weren't sure if we were going to win it or not, but they were strong enough that it was a good enough run over there."
Flenniken has been heading in the 2020 campaign on a 13-year-old bay gelding he bought from Two-Time NFR World Champion Matt Sherwood in 2019, whom he calls Sherwood.
"I've been riding him almost everywhere this year," Flenniken said. "He's just so honest. He scores every single time and runs to the cow every single time. He never tries to duck or take it away from me. He's not the best horse in the world, but he gives you the same shot every time. You know what he's going to do."
As the season is nearing an end and circuit rodeos are canceling or working on location changes for their 2020 circuit finals, Flenniken hopes to attend the Columbia River Circuit Finals in the No. 1 spot and qualify for the 2021 Ram National Circuit Finals, as well as roping in his first-ever NFR.
"Hopefully they have a circuit finals somewhere," Flenniken said. "I'd really like to go to the Dodge (RAM National) Circuit Finals now that it counts for next year. It would be nice to make it. I'd really like to win our circuit. I haven't really done that good there before."
Current Circuit Standings Leaders as of 8/21/2020:
Badlands: Cooper White, $10,308.32; Tucker White, $7,859.62
California: Pat Boyle, $6,763.89; Jared Hixon, $6,763.89
Columbia River: Jeff Flenniken, $1,767.34; Hunter Koch, $933.69
First Frontier: Eric Fabian, $4,410.68; Derek Carey, $4,410.68
Great Lakes: Payden Emmett, $2,848.20; Cody Andrews, $4,447.14
Maple Leaf: Clay Ullery, $1,294.85; Tyce McLeod, $1,294.85
Montana: Shawn Bessette, $8,226.82; Matt Robertson, $8,154.44
Mountain States: Garrett Tonozzi, $10,575.80; Cullen Teller, $6,083.28
Prairie: Andrew Ward, $21,588.07; Buddy Hawkins II, $19,590.11
Southeastern: Clint Summers, $11,951.07; Britt Bockius, $10,683.19
Texas: Dustin Egusquiza, $16,734.01; Junior Nogueira, $16,761.42
Turquoise: Erich Rogers, $7,771.82; Logan Medlin, $7,133.89
Wilderness: Rhett Anderson, $6,002.71; Jace Nielsen, $4,720.21
Mexico: Jorge Hawkins, $546.06; Miguel Valenzuela, $1,011.23