Between the rounds and the grand prize, Proctor and Medlin both took home $35,000 and solidified their spots at the 2023 NFR. They each finished the season with $133,487.42 to put Proctor No. 6 on the head side and Medlin No. 5 on the heel side.
All standings and earnings are UNOFFICIAL, and we will update once finalized.
Proctor and Medlin battled 12 teams in the two-head average to make it to the eight-man round, followed the four-man Saturday. They were the second team out in the clean-slate round of four and, when the first team of Tyler Wade and Wesley Thorp set the pace, Proctor and Medlin knew it was game on.
“I knew with the teams that made it back and the steers that they had sorted off for that round specifically, I knew it was going to get fast,” Medlin, 32, said. “And when TWade’s the first team out and goes 3.7, you have to let your hair down and roll the dice.”
Their journey to $25,000 wasn’t a quick jaunt, however. They started with a 4.6-second run in the first round, Thursday, Sept. 28, just outside the round money. The next night they struck gold, though, winning the second round with another 4.6. This time they walked away with $10,000 each.
Their 9.2 on two steers advanced them to Saturday’s semifinal eight-man round where it was a clean-slate competition with the fastest four teams moving to the round of four immediately after. And the semifinal got fast. A 3.7 was winning it by Luke Brown and Hunter Koch, and a 4.9 by Brenten Hall and Paden Bray was last hole. Proctor and Medlin roped their steer in 4.0 seconds to advance.
The round of four wasted no time, and Wade and Thorp started it off with a 3.7. Proctor and Medlin drew the steer Hall and Bray were 3.9 on in the first round, and they were prepared to capitalize.
“We knew he was good steer, dead straight,” Medlin said. “I didn’t know we were going to win first, but I knew we had a good chance with one that stayed straight. And that’s what you have to have when it’s that fast. You got to have one that runs straight enough to let you make things come together.”
Proctor wasted no time and got their run started fast. So fast, they both thought it was almost too fast at the barrier.
“He blew the barrier out; I don’t know, and he didn’t know, how he got out,” Medlin said with a laugh. “And so, when I heard everybody holler that he was out, I knew he was going to turn him fast enough. I just had to make sure I caught him.”
Medlin did just that, and they wowed the crowd with a blazing 3.4-second run—their first ever.
“I’ve never been 3.4 a day in my life, so I don’t know what it’s supposed to feel like, but it felt so slow because I had to take an extra swing,” Proctor, 38, explained. “My timing got off; the steer didn’t leave quite as good, which I knew he wasn’t going to. I told my partner after we drew our steer for the semifinal deal, I said, ‘We’re going to make it back and we’re going to draw Brenten Hall’s first one. And I didn’t know if I could score as good Brenten Hall did the first time, but I knew Heisman would take care of me.”
Heisman and Cantina
“Heisman,” as Proctor calls him, is a 15-year-old gelding by the name of SCR Sporties Playgun who has carried Proctor to several NFRs. Proctor credits Heisman for helping him get out clean on the barrier in the four-man round.
“Heisman has done such a great job,” Proctor said. “Tonight, that was all on him because my wires were shorting out a little bit. I didn’t score great, I know that. He shakes his head and he’s not your docile, just walk-in-the-box, practice-horse type horse. And he’s kind of like trying to drive a Ferrari on a short track. He has such personality, and he knows how good he is, and he knows he’s a winner. And I think it irritates him whenever I don’t keep up with him.”
Proctor has noticed Heisman thrives on those shorter setups, in arenas like Sioux Falls or the Finals.
“Heisman is so good,” Proctor said. “When it’s a short setup, you put him in the situations where Heisman wins, and he’s the greatest horse there is. And so you look at a horse like Horse of the Year, but I would never nominate him for Horse of the Year because I don’t ride him enough all year. But when I ride him at the National Finals, he’s the best horse there. He’s trying to win as hard as I am and, honestly, I know Logan appreciates it, I know my family appreciates it and I know I appreciate it.”
And while Proctor knows he’s of special caliber, he also knows Heisman is not the easiest to get along with.
“I have to deal with all his idiosyncrasies,” Proctor admitted. “He’ll kick the trailer, he’ll waller you to death. He’s not that much fun to be around all the time. He’s a very proud horse and he has a big personality. I sold him one time, traded for him back. He’s had such a journey in my life.”
On the other end, Medlin was riding the Top Heel Horse of the 2023 BFI, “Cantina.”
Medlin’s Tongue River Ranch-bred TRR Freckles Holidoc is a 7-year-old gelding that has transitioned from futurity horse to rodeo horse in the last year.
“It almost made me tear up thinking about how far he had come in a year,” Medlin said. “This point last year, I was getting him ready for the futurity—I had no intentions of riding him at the Finals and had to end up getting on him in the middle of it—to where this year, I’d be interested to know how much of my money I’ve won on him. But I mean, he stepped up to the plate and he honestly just gets better every week. I am really excited and very thankful to have the horse.”
Though Medlin also has two-time AQHA/PRCA Heel Horse of the Year “Drago” in his lineup, he plans to call on Cantina in December come Round 1 of the 2023 NFR.
“That’s how much I believe in this horse,” Medlin explained. “Don’t get me wrong, Drago will be out there, but that’s what I told Coleman when we came here. I told him, ‘As good as I know Drago would be in there, I’ve made it to this point on Cantina, I think he deserves the opportunity.’ And I honestly could not fault him one time any of these runs. And so, I think he deserved to get the call here and hopefully everything’s the same in December as it is right now, but my plan will be to be on Cantina.”
Achieving the necessary
Proctor and Medlin weren’t the only ones to strike gold the last weekend of the 2023 ProRodeo season. For Clint Summers, Sioux Falls was the most important weekend of his season as it determined his spot in Vegas this December. And it played in his favor.
Going into Sioux Falls, Summers was No. 19 in the world standings and $8,735.30 behind the 15th hole. He and his partner Jake Long, who was already inside the Top 15, were able to make the eight-man round with a 15.2 on two head, due to slipping a leg in the second round. They roped their steer in the round of eight in 3.7 seconds to advance to the four-man round. They needed to finish no lower than second place—worth $19,000 a man—for Summers to punch his NFR ticket. And they did just that, turning in a time of 3.6 seconds to win second place and lock Summers in for his third Finals—his second on the head side. Summers will enter the NFR No. 14 with $100,018.02 and Long No. 10 with $114,023.57 on the heel side.
Big weekend all around
Already locked in for the NFR, Tyler Wade and Wesley Thorp also had a big weekend, propelling Wade to finish the regular season No. 2 in the world standings with $154,941.67 and giving Thorp the regular season lead on the heel side. Thorp will enter the 2023 NFR No. 1 in the world with $172,168.94.
Wade and Thorp were able to win $5,000 each in Round 1 with a 4.0-second run. They were out of the money with a barrier in the second round but were still able to move on to Saturday’s activities. In the round of eight they were 4.0 to tie for third and advance to the final round. There, they were 3.7 seconds to win third and $12,000 a man.
For Mississippi boys Marcus Theriot and Cole Curry, their NFR dreams came true in Sioux Falls. They entered the Governor’s Cup inside the Top 15 but still on the bubble and came to Sioux Falls after winning $3,576 in Pasadena, Texas, at the Pasadena Livestock Show & Rodeo the day before heading north and winning $6,250 to solidify their spots in Vegas. Theriot will enter the Finals No. 12 with $102,109.14, and Curry will enter No. 14 on the heel side with $94,931.17.
Jonathan Torres was able to hold his spot inside the Top 15 after splitting third in the second round in Sioux Falls. He and Coy Rahlmann were 5.3 seconds to both win $3,750. Torres is headed to his second-straight NFR No. 15 in the world with $94,909.03. Rahlmann, unfortunately, did not make the cutoff.
Coleby Payne will run 10 in the Thomas & Mack for the first time ever, all thanks to a $10,000-check in Sioux Falls. Payne was No. 17 on the heel side prior to Sioux Falls, just $2,887.84 outside the Top 15. He crushed that in the very first night of the Governor’s Cup after he and Clay Smith won the round with a 3.6 to both pocket $10,000. They weren’t able to stop the clock in Round 2 but still managed to advance to Saturday. They did not move past the eight-man round, but they took home $2,500 for advancing. Payne will enter the Finals No. 12 with $98,163.46 won on the year.
Jake Clay achieved a major feat by not only making his first NFR, but by making it without going to Sioux Falls. When the Governor’s Cup started, Clay was No. 11 with $97,497.97. Since he didn’t catch a spot in Sioux Falls, the question all weekend was if he could do enough at other rodeos to hold his spot—and he did. Clay won $2,630 in Pasadena to qualify him for his first NFR at No. 13 in the world with $100,127.21.