Rodeo's biggest names heading to Prescott
PRESCOTT - The World's Oldest Rodeo definitely attracts the world's best cowboys.
It'll be a who's-who of the most competitive pro rodeo cowboys in the world when the Prescott Frontier Days' "World's Oldest Rodeo" hits town later this month. No fewer than four current No. 1-ranked Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) competitors will take to the local dirt ring during the 127th running of the Prescott Frontier Days from June 30-July 6, including the biggest of them all.
Among the 585 cowboys entered, none are more decorated than Trevor Brazile. The Decatur, Texas, cowboy in 2013 set the all-time record for most gold buckles won by a cowboy in PRCA history with No. 19. Brazile, 37, is the current All-Around world champion, is ranked No. 1 in the All-Around standings, and is also ranked No. 3 in the world in team roping among headers.
A regular at the World's Oldest Rodeo, Brazile is scheduled to compete in the Wednesday, July 2, performance at the Prescott Rodeo Grounds.
His traveling partner, Tuf Cooper, placed in five rounds of the National Finals Rodeo in 2013, and is currently ranked No. 1 in the world tie-down roping standings. Cooper also will compete July 2 in Prescott.
The defending world champion bareback rider and current No. 1 ranked rider in the world, Kaycee Feild of Spanish Fork, Utah, will compete in Prescott on Thursday, July 3. Feild has three world titles since joining the PRCA in 2007.
In the evening performance in Prescott on Saturday, July 5, look for four-time world champion bareback rider Bobby Mote to compete. Mote finished fourth in the world standings in 2013, and is currently ranked No. 11 in the world bareback standings.
What non-world champion got the most attention in rodeo earlier this year? That'd be Champion, of course.
Richmond Champion, just 21 years old and a PRCA member as of only 2012, became an instant sensation this past March at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, in Arlington, Texas. At The American Rodeo, Champion won rodeo's biggest purse ever with a $1 million payout at one event.
The bareback rider - currently No. 4 in the world bareback standings - earned $100,000 in first-place money along with a $1-million bonus for coming from the qualifying ranks to win at the world's largest and richest one-day rodeo.
You can imagine the resident of The Woodlands, Texas, will be traveling to Prescott in style when he rides on opening night, June 30.
"What does a 21-year-old do with a million? Good question," Champion told The Dallas Morning News after his huge payday. "I'll start with a party tonight."
Bareback, in fact, might be the most loaded event during the seven-day Prescott Frontier Days' run.
Along with Feild and Champion, the bareback grouping will include Wes Stevenson of Lubbock, Texas, a nine-time NFR qualifier; Steven Dent of Millen, Nebraska, who has won four all-around titles this year already at rodeos in Arkansas, Texas, Colorado and Kansas; and Will Lowe, a three-time world champ, a 12-time NFR qualifier, and current No. 12 in the world.
Stevenson, Dent and Lowe will compete on Saturday night alone.
"It'll be mighty good watchin'," said Prescott Frontier Days General Manager J.C. Trujillo, himself a former bareback world champion at the NFR in 1981.
The steer wrestling is loaded as well.
Luke Branquinho, a four-time world champion and current No. 1 steer wrestler in the world, will compete opening night on June 30. Now living in Los Alamos, California, Branquinho is married to the former Lindsay Favour of Prescott.
Trevor Knowles, the current No. 2-ranked steer wrestler in the world, will also compete in Prescott. Stan Branco, No. 13 in the world, from Chowchilla, California, won Prescott's steer wrestling event last year on his way to his first-career NFR. Branco will compete July 4, along with K.C. Jones (No. 17) of Decatur, Texas, a seven-time NFR qualifier.
In calf roping, look for Sterling Smith to compete on opening night. Born in Prescott, Smith, 30, attended Chino Valley High School and makes his home now in Stephenville, Texas. Smith was an NFR qualifier in 2013.
In team roping, Chino Valley's Travis Bard will compete with his partner, Tom Bill Johnson of Kirkland, on Tuesday, July 1. On Saturday afternoon in Prescott, Tom Richards, who was born in Cottonwood and lives in Humboldt, will compete with his partner, Monty Joe Petska of Turlock, California, a 14-time NFR qualifier.
Mayer cowboy Chance Kelton, who's currently ranked No. 5 in the world steer roping standings, will compete in Prescott as well.
"He's been on the verge of really doing well," Trujillo said of Kelton, a PRCA member since 1994. "In the rodeo business, luck of the draw is mighty important."
Prescott's Rick Kieckhefer will compete in calf roping during the matinee performance on July 4. His wife, Sarah Kieckhefer, will compete in barrel racing during the World's Oldest Rodeo.
In 2013, the total prize money awarded during the World's Oldest Rodeo was $230,000, and Trujillo expects this summer's payout to be about the same.
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