Two-time NFR qualifier, Jake Minor has one rodeo left to count, and he’s currently 15th in the heeling standings by $1,626.43 over number 16. His header, Jeff Flenniken has three rodeos left and is 17th in the world standings. Right now, he’s $4,529.42 behind number 15. They’ll be going to Mona, Utah and San Bernardino and Poway, California.
“It’s my first year so I had no idea how to enter and Jake had never entered before because he’s always buddied with Riley and Brady (Minor), and Brady does all the entering," Flenniken said. "We could have done a lot better job entering and we’d be in a lot better position right now."
However, he’s leading the Resistol Rookie of the Year standings with $59,847.35 and isn’t taking any of it for granted.
“Honestly, I feel blessed to be where I am right now," Flenniken said. "I didn’t personally think I would get this far my first year. It’s awesome to me to have the success we did this year.”
Heeler Quinn Kesler knows what it’s like to be so close as a rookie – his rookie year (2015) he finished 16th in the PRCA World Standings.
“It definitely can be nerve-wracking, but just do your best to rope how you know you can and stay focused,” Kesler said.
This year, he’s in that same position with $58,220.93 and has five rodeos left to count – Kansas City, Missouri on Wednesday, Omaha, Nebraska on Friday, San Bernardino and Poway on Saturday, and Stephenville, Texas on Sunday. His header, Rhen Richard, is 14th in the standings with $65,232.02.
“Rhen is super good to travel with and fun to be around so we just try to stay positive and have the attitude that we both try to do our best,” Kesler said about the end-of-the-season pressure.
With four rodeos left to count, header Lane Ivy is 15th with $64,376.77 and looking to qualify for his first NFR.
“I look at it as I’m trying to make money, not hold onto a position," Ivy said. "I do the best I can do. The pressure hasn’t really changed for me the last two weeks."
He’s going to Omaha, Kansas City, Apache, Oklahoma, and Stephenville. His heeler, Buddy Hawkins, finished 16th last year, but is 14th in the heeling standings with $61,370.17 and has five rodeos left, so they’ll also go to New Braunfels, Texas.
"We rodeo pretty modest," Ivy said. "We didn’t have to fly anywhere or send any rigs or anything like that this year.”
Header, Coleman Proctor has been to the NFR the past four years and knows it’s a huge financial opportunity as he estimates it costs $70,000 to rodeo a year. But he only has three rodeos left to get there. He and 4-time WNFR qualifier, Ryan Motes were 3.8 seconds at the Springhill (Louisiana) PRCA Rodeo this past weekend, but Proctor didn’t have that rodeo counted as he was saving his last couple for San Bernardino, Poway, and Stephenville. Motes, who is 22nd and $6,037.88 out of the top 15, still has five rodeos, so they’ll also rope at Kansas City and Omaha.
“Basically it comes down to going fast and making clean runs,” Proctor said.
Proctor is $4,870.12 out of the top 15 and there’s around $9,000 that can be won at the three rodeos he’s going to.
“Somebody once told me, ‘this is where the veterans come to the top and the kids fall apart’, but I don’t think they were roping against the same kids,” Proctor said laughing. “It’s going to be a fun finish.”
The Torres brothers have two rodeos left to count–Pasadena and Stephenville, Texas. Header Joshua is 19th and $7,270 out, and heeler Jonathon is 17th and $2,740.59 out of the top 15.
While Joshua knows it’s “mathematically impossible” for him to qualify for the NFR, he said, “All the miles and all the practice comes down to these two steers to get my brother into his first finals. I’m just hoping to be the stall boy.”