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The last time Tyler Wade rode into the little yellow arena at the Thomas & Mack in 2019, he spun 10 out of 10 steers for money and announced himself as one of rodeo's preeminent headers. 

And the last time Trey Yates rode out of the same arena back in 2018, he was the average champion. 

Picking up where they left off, Wade pinged the barrier and Yates stretched a tough steer behind a neck catch in 4.0 seconds to win Round 1 of the 2021 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, starting their Finals off with a go-round-record tying round win. 

Tyler Wade and Trey Yates NFR Round 1 2021

Wade was comfortable taking a neck shot in Round 1 with the smaller-sized horns on this year's NFR cattle. 

"I've been practicing going closer to the pin," Wade said. "With Trey leaving them straight, we only have 44 feet from the left wall over. If I move over about 5 foot in the box, and then he lets them go straight, that gives us an extra hop or two to handle the steer. Honestly, it came together pretty good. The steer broke in his right lead. I didn't throw the perfect loop, but when it went on him, I knew Trey knew where to be and he heeled him good."

[More: NFR Team Roping Results]

"That looked like several runs we've made," Yates added. "We have a run developed and a feel for each other's roping. About 100% of the time, if I'm able to leave the steer straight, he doesn't miss. That steer broke in the right lead, and he breaks to the pin to get a better start. He can see them over there, and I know the way he ropes and his horse, he can shape the run upcast. My horse, Dude, we can get around there and shut the run down. We've turned 4.5–4.6s into 4.3s and that's made a big difference in our earnings."

This is Wade's second time winning the first round with a 4.0-second run and his fifth go-round win in his fourth NFR appearance. This is Yates' first-ever go-round win in his second appearance. 

Wade is aboard his 14-year-old gelding, Espuela Bro, the same horse he rode in 2019. 

"He sprained a suspensory this spring—it wasn't a huge deal—they told me to give him six months off. I gave him Equinety every day, twice a day, and he was able to come back in three. I rehabbed him through the summer and rode JD Yates' buckskin, Trey's dad's horse. I've never had this problem—I rode the buckskin in the run through also, and it's a blessing. It doesn't matter which one I get on. I'm comfortable on either one of them and both horses, I feel like, are great. I just jumped on mine because he's mine." 

Trey Yates Romancing The Chics

Yates' Romancing The Chics is by Chic Please out of RS Lilly Starlight, an AQHA Super Horse. 

Yates is riding Romancing The Chics, the same great horse he won the average on in 2018.

"He's fast, maybe one of the fastest horses, period, I've ever rode. He's always up in the front and driving from behind. I think that that's a key factor in a good heel horse is to be on their hind end when they turn the corner and that's what shuts the run down."

The win, worth $26,996.97 a man, moved them to $126,034 and $121,178, respectively, in season earnings at fifth in the PRCA World Standings. 

Last year's NFR average champions, Erich Rogers and Paden Bray, were second in the round with a 4.4-second run, while Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira were third with a 4.6-second run. TRJ

Placings:

1. Tyler Wade and Trey Yates, 4.0, $26,996.97 each

2. Erich Rogers and Paden Bray, 4.4, $21,336.32

3. Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira, 4.6, $16,110.10

4. Quinn Kesler and Joseph Harrison, 4.8, $11,321.21

5/6 Derrick Begay and Brady Minor, 4.9, $5,660.65

5/6 Clay Smith and Jade Corkill, 4.9, $5,660.65

FULL RESULTS:

792: Quinn Kesler and Joseph Harrison 4.8 

784: Coy Rahlmann and Douglas Rich 9.9 (leg)

795: Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins 5.6

791: Coleman Proctor and Logan Medlin NT

773: Derrick Begay and Brady Minor 4.9

779: Rhen Richard and Jeremy Buhler 9.5 (leg) 

796: Clint Summers and Ross Ashford NT

768: Brenten Hall and Chase Tryan 10.4 

756: Tyler Wade and Trey Yates 4.0

780: Clay Tryan and Jake Long NT

789: Cody Snow and Wesley Thorp 9.5 (leg)

787: Clay Smith and Jade Corkill 4.9

797: Erich Rogers and Paden Bray 4.4 

785: Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira 4.6 

798: Dustin Egusquiza and Travis Graves NT

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