Round 10 of the 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is setting up to be a shootout between Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira, Clay Smith and Paul Eaves, Derrick Begay and Cory Petska and Aaron Tsinigine and Trey Yates.
Begay and Petska won Round 9 with a 3.8-second run worth $26,230.77 a man, catapulting them to third and fourth in the PRCA world standings from the seventh and eighth in which they ended Round 8. They also moved up two places in the average from seventh to fifth, which pays $22,846.15 a man.
"I stayed back there by the gate and watched them," Petska said. "I had a good feeling about tonight. We made a good run. Them guys behind us, they need to catch. And they're still trying to be fast but they need to catch. They're all higher in the average and that will be the thing that separates them is that they're all higher in the average."
Begay and Petska won the round on a steer that team roping director Manny Egusquiza said was the best in that set—one Driggers missed in Round 6 and the Minors were 4.1 on in Round 3.
"I don't really go off of the tape," Begay said. "I knew that was the steer we drew, and that's all you can look at."
Their chances are slim, and they'd require standings leaders Smith and Eaves and Driggers and Nogueira to slip up in Round 10—something that didn't look likely after they made back-to-back 4.1-second runs in Round 9.
"Whatever happens, happens," Petska said. "We're going to try to make another good run like we did tonight. If it's God's will, it's God's will. If it's not we'll start at Odessa and try again next year... You can only do what you can do anyway. No matter what, you are going to go make the best run on whatever steer you got."
Bubba Buckaloo and Chase Tryan won fourth in Round 9 with a 4.3-second run and are third and fourth in the PRCA world standings, but they've only got five steers down this week and are 10th in the average.
The fifth-place, $6,769.23-a-man went to Tsinigine and Yates' 4.9-second run. They're the only team with all nine steers down and can finish no less than second in the average and win no less than $54,576.92 a man. They will need to win big in Round 10 to have a legitimate shot.
Smith and Eaves remain in the driver's seat, and if the rodeo ended tonight, they'd be the world champions. With their fourth-place, $31,730.77 potential aggregate money calculated into their standings earnings, they'd have $262,844.55 a man. Driggers and Nogueira would be second with $251,733.71 and $252,717.56 respectively, including their potential second-place aggregate check of $54,576.92 a man calculated in. Tsinigine and Yates would be win the average and be third in the world with $212,506.03 and $226,900.48 each, including their potential aggregate check of $67,269.23 each. Begay and Petska would be fourth with $193,625.61 and $200,082.49 each.
In the all-around race, Tuf Cooper moved to first with $310,357.01 with a third and fourth-place go-round check in the tie-down. Trevor Brazile is second with $298,026.13, and Richard is $203,647.05. Richard is second in the average in the tie-down with a 79.20 on nine head, and third in the team roping with 73.60 on eight head.
Team Roping Results Round 9:
1. Derrick Begay and Cory Petska, 3.8 seconds, $26,230.77 each
2/3. Clay Smith and Paul Eaves, 4.1 seconds, $18,192.31 each
2/3. Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira, 4.1 seconds, $18,192.31 each
4. Bubba Buckaloo and Chase Tryan, 4.3 seconds, $11,000 each
5. Aaron Tsinigine and Trey Yates, 4.9 seconds, $6,769.23 each
6. Lane Ivy and Buddy Hawkins II, 9.2 seconds, $4,230.77 each