Dark Horse: Tomlinson and Smith are Driggers and Nogueira's Closest Competition

Will the 2022 team roping world title come down to the 10th round again?

Jamie Arviso Photos

After five rounds, National Finals Rodeo team roping average leaders Tanner Tomlinson and Patrick Smith are the nearest competitors to season-leaders Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira for the 2022 PRCA World Team Roping title.

If all average money were calculated into the standings had the rodeo ended after five rounds, Tomlinson and Smith would trail Driggers and Nogueira in the PRCA world standings by $44,960.76 each$299,669.31 for Driggers and Nogueira, $254,708.55 for Tomlinson and Smith. However, first in one go-round and third in another would win Tomlinson and Smith $46,167 a man, if all other variables remain constant and in the unlikely scenario Driggers and Nogueira fail to win anymore more but stay steady in the average.

(Editor’s note: These are hypotheticals discussing mathematical possibilities.)

NFR Team Roping Go-Round Payout Per Man
1. $28,913.70
2. $22,851.15
3. $17,254.95
4. $12,125.10
5. $7,461.60
6. $4,663.50

Tomlinson and Smith are 27.30 on five, including a leg in Round 1. They’ve added $73,180.42 a man to their earnings already at the NFR, leading the NFR earnings charge. Driggers and Nogueira have won $71,791.46 a man this week, putting them second in NFR earnings up to this point.

Smith, 42, is the only one in the race who’s already proven himself an NFR average champion, having won it in 2003 and 2008 and having made rodeo’s Super Bowl 13 times. This is the first NFR appearance for Tomlinson, 22, who was the 2020 Resistol Rookie of the Year in the heading. However, Tomlinson has been practicing with 26-time World Champion Trevor Brazile to prepare his NFR strategy on Blue, the 17-year-old grade head horse Coy Rahlmann showcased at the Finals in 2021.

NFR Team Roping Average Payout
1. $74,149.92
2. $60,159.36
3. $47,567.87
4. $34,976.38
5. $25,182.99
6. $18,187.71
7. $12,591.50
8. $6,995.27

Reigning World Champs Driggers, 32, and Nogueira, 32, took their first no-time of the week in Round 5 with a miss on the backside after Nogueira’s horse stepped into his loop. They’re currently fifth in the average with a 28.00 on four head. Only two teams—Tomlinson and Smith and Coleman Proctor and Logan Medlin—have five steers down, so the opportunity to climb that pay scale is real. They’re only half a second behind JR Dees and Levi Lord at fourth, and 7.4 seconds behind Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins at third.

Driggers and Nogueira are just $15,434.68 per man shy of the single-season earnings mark of $289,921, set by Clay Smith and Paul Eaves in 2018.

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