Unofficially, the final determinant of the 2023 NFR team roping lineup will take place in Sioux Falls at the Governor’s Cup Sept. 28-30. Twelve teams will go to bat in Sioux Falls for a chance at a purse that could greatly affect the world standings. How? Here’s the projected payout:
Rounds 1 & 2 (Thursday, Friday)
The Governor’s Cup will allow the 12 qualifying contestants to compete in rounds one and two of competition.
Those rounds will have the following payout:
Final Four Round (Saturday)
After the first two full rounds, the top eight teams on two head will advance to Saturday’s round. In Saturday’s clean-slate round, fifth-eighth place will pay $2,555 each, and the top four fastest times will advance to a four-man short round.
The four-man shootout round will pay the following amounts:
Refresher on the PRCA Playoff Series: The PRCA Playoff Series? What's that?
So, who’s going?
Here’s the teams in the order they’ll rope Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, in the first round:
Wait a minute…
Some of those teams you didn’t expect, right? Tyler Wade and Wesley Thorp, Tanner Tomlinson and Patrick Smith, Clay Smith and Coleby Payne and Luke Brown and Hunter Koch all qualified through Puyallup. Three of those teams were already in the top eight of the Playoff standings, which opened up three positions to qualify through the standings. Brown was No. 9 on the head side and Koch No. 10 on the heel side, also allowing another team to qualify through the standings.
This is why Sioux Falls matter so much. Yes, a good portion of the contestants are already in the Top 15, with a few teams safe for the Finals regardless of how it plays out. BUT, the players that qualified that currently sit on the bubble could make the race for the NFR very interesting.
Brenten Hall & Paden Bray
Hall and Bray’s win at the West Texas Fair & Rodeo in Abilene, Texas, the last PRCA Playoff Rodeo of the year, secured them a spot at the inaugural Governor’s Cup. Hall is currently No. 18 in the world standings with $86,680.56 won on the year, which is only $1,417.80 behind fifteenth. Bray is No. 15 on the heel side with $88,551.30. For Hall to sneak into the Top 15 and Bray to move deeper, or at least stay put, Sioux Falls is their best chance.
Ashford is a bit of a lone wolf in Sioux Falls. The 24-year-old roped with Jr Dees all year but made the cut for the Governor’s Cup without him. Luckily for Ashford, though, he’s paired up with Nelson Wyatt, the No. 2 header in the world right now who also qualified all by his lonesome. Ashford actually sits No. 11 in the Playoff standings, meaning he qualified when they dropped down in the standings due to Puyallup qualifiers. At No. 23 in the heeling world standings, Ashford NEEDED this qualification. He sits at No. 23 with $74,709.55 won the year, $13,841.75 behind Bray at fifteenth. While there’s a chance Ashford could have won that at the remaining regular season rodeos, making it to Sioux Falls gives him better odds at that type of check.
Summers is another who qualified because of the drop down in the standings. All that matters, though, is that he made the Sioux Falls list. At No. 21 in the heading world standings with $75,211.29 on the year, Summers is $12,887.07 behind the No. 15 guy. His heeler Jake Long is already in the Top 15, so this qualification to the Governor’s Cup was crucial for them as a team as it’s Summers’ best chance at the Finals.
Coy Rahlmann & Jonathan Torres
We’ve talked a lot about these two in the last few weeks because of how much climbing they’ve done. Rahlmann and Torres have been capitalizing at some of the most important rodeos lately, allowing them to jump to No. 17 for Rahlmann and No. 13 for Torres. Rahlmann is only $746.05 outside the Top 15, and if he can cash in in Sioux Falls, his odds at his second NFR appearance look brighter. Sioux Falls could also help Torres, securing him a spot in the Top 15 if he plays the right defense.
Clay Smith & Coleby Payne
Smith and Payne showed out when they needed to, finishing in the final four in Puyallup, a direct qualification to Sioux Falls. Yes, they also finished in the top eight of the Playoff standings, so their odds of making it to the Governor’s Cup were high, but sealing the deal in Puyallup didn’t hurt. Smith currently sits No. 15 in the world standings with $88,098.36 on the year. The gap between him and the bubble boys isn’t large, however, so grabbing as many checks as possible in Sioux Falls would be important. Payne is No. 17 on the heel side with $83,163.06, so Sioux Falls will serve as a chance to move inside the Top 15 for him.
Who else needed this?
Marcus Theriot & Cole Curry
Theriot and Curry are staring down their first NFR appearances ever, so long as they can hold their spots in the world standings, or jump deeper in. Theriot is No. 12 on the head side with $92,283.14 and Curry is fourteenth on the heel end with $88,681.17. The young guns need to play a solid game of defense in Sioux Falls, making sure they stay in the money there to stay in the Top 15.
Luke Brown & Hunter Koch
Brown and Koch sit nicely in the Top 15 but not necessarily safely. Brown is thirteenth in the world standings and Koch is No. 10, both with $91,775.50. With only $4,217 separating both Brown and Koch from the No. 16 guys, a solid weekend in Sioux Falls could provide a bit of a safety net for them.