Photos by Kirt Steinke
Kolton Schmidt and Shay Carroll didn't get rolling until the ninth round, but when they finally connected, the flag dropped faster than on any other run in the rodeo.
They came tight in 3.60 seconds, cashing their first paychecks of the week at $26,230.77 a man. However, with that being their first check of the week, they won't factor into the PRCA world standings' race toward which everyone's attention has turned after Round 9.
The story out of Round 9 is much more about who didn't win than who did, unfortunately. Luke Brown and Jake Long took a no-time with a miss on the heels, dropping them to fifth in the average. Dustin Bird and Russell Cardoza, coming off a win in Round 8, took a no-time with a missed head loop, moving them to eighth.
Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira bounced back from a miss in Round 8 to win second in Round 9 with a 3.8-second run, keeping them sixth in the average.
If everything ended tonight, Brown would win the heading with a projected $234,781.91, including the $22,846.15 he would win for fifth in the average with 37.50 on seven head. Paul Eaves would win the heeling with $232,592.33, including the $67,269.23 he would win for first in the average with a 48.30 seconds on eight head. Clay Smith would be $3,478.40 behind Brown, while Long would be $1,155.02 behind Eaves. (Numbers based on PRCA projected world standings calculations with average money counted in after Round 9.)
There are four teams with a strong chance at winning the gold buckles--Brown and Long, Smith and Eaves, Driggers and Nogueira and Buhler and Simpson--heading into what amounts to a one-header in Round 10. Going into the final round last year, though, we wouldn't have counted Aaron Tsinigine as one of the headers with a strong chance, and we would have been wrong.
The all-around race tightened in Round 9, with Bird's no-time preceded by bull dogger Clayton Hass' 4.40 that was good enough for third in the go-round. Bird now holds a $2,573.28 lead over Hass, but Hass is currently sixth in the average in the steer wrestling worth $16,500.00, while Bird is eighth in the heading worth only $6,346.15. So if it ended tonight, Bird would have $220,527.19 to Hass' $228,107.76. If all stays the same in the average race, Bird will need to win fourth or better in the go-round if Hass wins nothing, and will need to do better depending on what Hass does in the round and whether or not he moves up in the average. Nogueira's second place in Round 9 helped him stay in all-around contention, too. If the all-around race ended tonight, Nogueira would have $212,266.79 won, so if the bull dogging and team roping averages stay the same, Nogueira would need to win $15,840.97 more than Hass and fend of Bird tomorrow to have a shot.
Of course, there will undoubtedly be spoilers, like Schmidt and Carroll, who will be gunning for the day-money tomorrow. Brown and Long will rope last tomorrow, so they will know what they need to do before nodding their heads.
1. Schmidt/Carroll, 3.60, $26,230.77
2. Driggers/Nogueira, 3.80, $20,730.77
3. Rogers/Petska, 4.50, $15,653.85
4. Simpson/Buhler, 4.60, $11,000
5. Smith/Eaves, 5.00, $6,769.23
6. Minor/Minor, 5.10, $4,230.77
1. Smith/Eaves, 48.30/8
2. Simpson/Buhler, 49.90/8
3. Rogers/Petska, 51.70/8
4. Minor/Minor, 66.40/8
5. Brown/Long, 37.50/7
6. Driggers/Nogueira, 42.20/7
7. Sherwood/Kesler, 50.20/7
8. Bird/Cardoza, 35.10/6