Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins II broke into the top 5 of the 2021 ProRodeo world standings after a stellar showing at the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo on April 8 – 10 in Kissimmee, Florida.
Ward and Hawkins, who are Prairie Circuit cowboys, totaled their weekend earnings with $19,706 each after placing in each round of the tournament-style rodeo and winning the final round plus $20,000 RAM truck vouchers, Polaris RANGER UTVs, a pair of exotic boots from Justin Boots, trophy saddles from Cactus Saddlery and Montana Silversmith buckles, moving them to fourth in the PRCA world standings with $23,962.45 each in ProRodeo season earnings.
Ward and Hawkins were the last team to rope in the final round of the RNCFR. After watching Turner Harris and Matt Zancanella come up with a miss on the head side and both teams of Pedro Egurrola and Trevor Nowlin and Dustin Egusquiza and Junior Nogueira coming up with plus 5 after roping a leg, Ward and Hawkins needed to be shorter than a 9.1 to win the RNCFR Title. Ward missed his first wrap but managed to get dallied and turned for Hawkins to heel two to be 6.3 seconds to win the rodeo, worth $6,158.
“I missed my dally on the last one,” said Ward, who tied for the RNCFR win with his brother Reagan in 2018 with Logan Olson and Matt Kasner. “I got a good start and we had to be 9.1 to win it. I went closer than I normally would and took an extra swing and made sure that I got it on which is no big deal, but when I went to go down the wall I didn’t have my dally yet and it swung the cow down the arena a little bit further. Buds did a real good job of just catching like he always does. That was about the only thing that I thought was a little sketchy about the four runs.”
“We loved our cow, and then when kind of bobbled his dally I would have liked to have heeled him just like I had heeled all the others,” Hawkins added. “When he kind of bobbled his dally I almost had to go back to the drawing board because it changed the timing of the turn a little bit. We gave ourselves a little bit of freedom when we were coming back in the final four, especially with Dustin and Junior with how special that they are, we really thought they were liable to put a 3 on it at the end. We kind of gave ourselves the freedom to go ahead and try for the win if the opportunity presented itself.”
Ward’s 10-year-old brown gelding, Cole E Man, known as “Biscuit”, has more run than the average head horse which helped Ward be able to run to the hip on their final steer, but that lead to Ward having more rope out there than he anticipated which caused for him to miss his dally.
“I think that horse just runs so hard to the cow and then it’s not like I’m going to pass them, but it feels kind of like that,” Ward said. “That’s a real slow, good cow and I think I just had more rope out than I had anticipated. I just have so much confidence catching on him that he’s what I chose to take out there. He’s a neat horse and he’s been awesome to me.”
Hawkins, who now has three RNCFR titles on his resume, rode his grade gelding “X”.
“My horse gives me freedom to throw when I want,” Hawkins said. “I’ve qualified three times and I won it on three horses. I won it on Rue, Daisy and now X. I don’t have Rue anymore, but I still have Daisy. She might be my second pick heeling for Andrew out there, but I definitely pick my horses with importance with who I’m roping with. The run that Andrew has with Biscuit really takes a physical heel horse that will kind of help him with the cow. Biscuit’s favorite thing is to go fast and go left. He’s my best chance for money, so I’m going to keep playing him. He did exactly what he was supposed to do. I play it like the finals, and I get up there with the cows and stay close to them and be aggressive.”
Ward and Hawkins placed in every round starting off with a 5.2-second run to win second in round one, worth $3,849 each, placing sixth in the second round with a 5.1-second run, worth $770 and finishing third in the average with a total time of 10.3 seconds on two head, worth $2,771 each. They won the semi-final round with a 5.6-second run, adding $6,158 to each of their earnings.
“We’ve kind of taken the same plan we try to keep our catch percentage at a pretty high level and let the times take care of themselves,” Ward said. “Buds is going to put a little left on them in that arena so it’s forcing me to throw, but it’s also forcing me to throw in a good spot so there’s not a lot of thinking going on. We just kind of plan the run and then execute. I thought we executed perfect. We watched our videos back. I basically headed the cow in the same spot of the arena all four times.”
Hawkins, who has split with his past RNCFR partners going into the regular seasons, is prepared to continue the 2021 ProRodeo season with Ward in hopes of qualifying for another NFR.
“Going on into the season with Andrew is nice to have that going for us as far as future-tense, setting up the rest of our year when we first decided that we were going to rope together,” Ward said. “We talked about both being Prairie Circuit cowboys and having an opportunity to go out there and do good together.”
1. Dustin Egusquiza and Junior Nogueira, 4.8-second run, worth $5,080 each
2. Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins II, 5.2-second run, worth $3,849 each
3. Riley Minor and Brady Minor, 5.3-second run, worth $2,771 each
4. Pat Boyle and Jared Hixon, 5.4-second run, worth $1,847 each
5/6. Radley Day and Taylor Williams, 5.9-second run, worth $924 each
5/6. Chaz Kananen and Max Kuttler, 5.9-second run, worth $924 each.
1. Erich Rogers and Logan Medlin, 4.4-second run, worth $5,080 each
2. Dustin Egusquiza and Junior Nogueira, 4.5-second run, worth $3,849 each
3. Chaz Kananen and Max Kuttler, 4.8-second run, worth $2,771 each
4/5. Pedro Egurrola and Trevor Nowlin, 4.9-second run, worth $1,462 each
4/5. Riley Minor and Brady Minor, 4.9-second run, worth $1,462 each
6. Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins II, 5.1-second run, worth $770 each.
1. Dustin Egusquiza and Junior Nogueira, 9.3 seconds on two head, worth $5,080 each
2. Riley Minor and Brady Minor, 10.2 seconds on two head, worth $3,849 each
3. Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins II, 10.3 seconds on two head, worth $2,771 each
4. Chaz Kananen and Max Kuttler, 10.7 seconds on two head, worth $1,847 each
5. Cooper Bruce and Reed Boos, 12.2 seconds on two head, worth $1,078 each
6. Turner Harris and Matt Zancanella, 12.7 seconds on two head, worth $770 each.
1. Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins II, 5.6-second run, worth $6,158 each
2. Dustin Egusquiza and Junior Nogueira, 6.6-second run, worth $4,618 each
3. Pedro Egurrola and Trevor Nowlin, 9.6-second run, worth $3,079 each
4. Turner Harris and Matt Zancanella, 11.4-second run, worth $1,539 each.
1. Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins II, 6.3-second run, worth $6,158 each
2. Pedro Egurrola and Trevor Nowlin, 9.2-second run, worth $4,618 each
3. Dustin Egusquiza and Junior Nogueira, 9.6-second run, worth $3,079 each.