Fast Back Ropes brings you this recap from the week of Sept. 6–11, 2022.
End of Trail
For guys in the Prairie and Badlands circuits, the week ended without any change to the top of the leaderboards in either circuit in the final weekend.
In the Prairie Circuit, Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins continue to hold a sizable lead over Paul David Tierney and Tanner Braden. They will rope for the titles when the Prairie Circuit Finals kicks off Oct. 13–15, in Duncan, Oklahoma.
Clay Ullery and Matt Zancanella increased their lead over Jade Schmidt and Jade Nelson in the Badlands Circuit with a third-place win at the final rodeo in Northfield, Minnesota.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the standings, Shaw Loiseau used a clutch fifth-place finish in Northfield to leapfrog from 13th to 11th in the standings, effectively clinching his spot in the Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo to be held in Minot, North Dakota, Oct. 14–16, 2022.
Technically, the Mountain States Circuit has another week until their cut-off but, with no rodeos left on the docket, those standings are solidified. Clayton Van Aken and Jayden Johnson will lead the way into the 2022 Mountain States Circuit Finals on Oct. 21–22, in Loveland, Colorado.
The Final Countdown
The Northwest continues to host some of the biggest purses remaining on the 2022 ProRodeo schedule but, while the big dogs played in Puyallup at the Cinch NFR Playoff, Columbia River Circuit guys took advantage of rodeos in Lewiston, Idaho, and Washington, with stops in Spokane, Colfax and Cashmere, as they jockeyed for circuit finals berths.
While there were no changes on the front end, the see-saw battle between Brady Minor and Jake Long continued for the lead for heelers. Minor, who is also battling for a position in Las Vegas at the Wrangler NFR, used a sixth-place finish in Lewiston to retake the lead he lost to Long a week ago.
On the circuit bubble, Calgary Smith placed everywhere but Lewiston, earning checks worth $2,050 to jump from 14th to 12th for heelers. Smith roped with Ky Barry and Brady Tryan.
Columbia River cowboys have just one weekend and two rodeos—Othello, Washington, and the Pendleton Round-Up—left to earn points, which could have huge circuit implications, as it does every year.
Here’s the differences between 12th and 13th going into the final weekend:
Columbia River Headers: Luke Brown is $633 ahead of Jason Stewart
Columbia River Heelers: Calgary Smith is $159 ahead of Jason Duby
However, given the huge payout at Pendleton, guys much farther down the standings could easily jump into the top 12 by the cut-off on Tuesday, Sept. 20.
The Pendleton Round-Up will get a lot of publicity this week, but key stops in the south can have a big impact on standings in the Turquoise, Southeastern and Texas Circuits.
The Turquoise Circuit was quiet last weekend, but Albuquerque’s New Mexico State Fair & Rodeo began this week and is the third richest rodeo on the schedule for those rodeoing in Arizona and New Mexico. For Junior Zambrano, Albuquerque represents a “two-for-one”—Zambrano is currently leading the heeling standings for the circuit, and in a tight race with James Gililland, but he’s also chasing the Resistol Rookie of the Year award on the national scene. With the money available at Albuquerque, he’s got a chance to work on both goals in one rodeo.
In the Southeastern Circuit, Brady Barrentine has been on the move and closed to within $401 of 12th-ranked Spunk Sasser while heeler Zack Mabry has moved from nowhere to just $56 behind 12th-ranked Ross Lowry.
All ropers in the Southeastern Circuit continue to chase Braxton and Brad Culpepper; the father-son duo hold a commanding lead as the year chases down to its conclusion.
The Texas Circuit saw a leaderboard change for heelers over the weekend as Tyler Worley jumped over Coleby Payne thanks to a big check at Chickasha, Oklahoma, which was co-approved with Texas.
With the West Texas Fair & Rodeo in Abilene stretched over two weeks, cowboys are looking at the leaders there and may see big changes when those results are finalized this weekend.
One cowboy keeping a keen eye on those results is Fast Back endorsee Quisto Lopez.
Lopez ropes with Cody Thornton and, when Thornton approached him this summer and said he wanted to come off the road and spend more time with his family, Lopez agreed.
“He’s got a baby on the way and wanted to take it easy, and I’ve been working a lot so it was fine,” Lopez said. “I was ninth in the standings at that point and thought I’d be OK.”
But as Lopez watched his name start to slip down the standings, he decided he needed to figure things out.
“I did enter Mesquite and Denton one weekend with Justin Delagarza and we won a little bit but not enough,” he said. “I was talking with some of the guys and we think Tyler Wade is going to be the only guy to not complete his rodeo count.”
With that knowledge, Lopez again thought he might be okay but then Shay Carroll made a big move over the weekend, jumping from 12th to 10th, which left Lopez with the target on his back at 12th. He’s just about $400 ahead of Cory Smothers. Meanwhile, Thornton had also slipped to 12th and is clinging to a $220 lead over Travis Hobbs.
“I wanted to be a loyal partner and not find someone else but then he called me and said, ‘Hey we’re both in a bind here,’” Lopez noted.
Unfortunately, entries had closed on everything but Buffalo this weekend and New Braunfels on the final weekend.
“Basically we have two rodeos left,” he laughed. “We just have to hope and pray we get something done.”
Looking at the current Abilene results, Lopez and Thornton figure Thornton could drop in the standings.
“The guys who are 13th and 15th are both placing there so he [Thornton] needs to win,” Lopez explained. “I might sneak in based on rodeo counts, but we’re hoping we just place at Buffalo and take care of it right there.”
Lopez is a three-time Texas Circuit Finals Rodeo qualifier who won it all in 2014. He notes that he set his 2022 goals to return to Waco and also to qualify to the CPRA Finals.
“Then two months ago, when we were up at Salt Lake at the WCRA event, we got an email saying they moved the Circuit Finals to October,” Lopez said of the TxCFR, which had been held over New Year’s weekend for many years. “Now it’s conflicted with the CPRA Finals so that was two goals shot in one day. But there is more opportunities with the circuit finals if you place or win, so that’s where my focus will be.”
In the Montana Circuit, headers Brady Tryan and Shawn Bird swapped positions for the second straight week. After losing the lead to Bird after Labor Day, Tryan bounced back with two checks from co-approved rodeos in Spokane and Colfax, Washington.
Tryan is now $1,277 ahead as Montana cowboys have one co-approved rodeo in Dickinson, North Dakota, left on the schedule before the field is finalized for the circuit finals.
Justin Viles held strong in the heeling standings, holding a lead of roughly $5,500 over Zachary Schweigert.
Here’s the differences between 12th and 13th going into the final rodeo of the season:
Montana Headers: Caleb Berquist is $287 ahead of Miles Kobold
Montana Heelers: Mason Trollinger is $180 ahead of Taner Sorge
With just two more weeks, and only a few rodeos remaining, there are tough battles brewing for the final positions into the several of the circuit finals rodeos.
In the Wilderness Circuit, header Jade Anderson won just enough to slip past Howie Hutchings for the 12th position. The ropers are separated by just $47. On the heeling side, Scotty Lauaki made a big move from 14th to 12th and is clinging to that final qualifying position by $459. Lauaki is less than $100 behind 11th-ranked Fox Crozier, so more shuffling could easily happen in the final two weeks.
With several rodeos over the weekend, the bottom end of the First Frontier Circuit saw movement with Mike White slipping into the 12th spot for headers and JR Myers moving off the bubble spot, going from 12th to 8th after winning the third rodeo in Levant, Maine.
The standings on the East Coast remain close from top to bottom with Eric Fabian and Derek Carey still holding on to first place, but only by $249 and $47, respectively.
The Great Lakes Circuit saw no changes inside the top 12 for headers but the field did tighten up with Jason Arndt now just $153 behind 12th-ranked Ryan Von Ahn.
On the heeling side, Whitney DeSalvo, who is bidding to join the historical ranks of a small group of women to ever qualify to a circuit finals rodeo and possibly be the first to do so on the back side, slid from 12th to 14th as Cole Stevens jumped two positions into the final qualifying spot. Stevens is $27 ahead of Wyatt Kanan in 13th and $786 in front of DeSalvo.