Nebraskans Steven Dent and Cort Scheer return to WNFR after successful 2018 seasons
After a successful 2018 season, two rodeo cowboys are swapping the corn fields of Nebraska for the neon lights of Las Vegas. Heading back to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in December to compete for the title of world champion in their respective events, Steven Dent (bareback) of Mullen, Neb., is returning for the ninth time in his career, along with fellow Prairie Circuit competitor Cort Scheer (saddle bronc) of Elsmere, Neb., who notched his sixth invite to the prestigious year-end championship.
Needing a ranking of 15th or better in their respective events to qualify for the WNFR, Dent stood eighth by season’s end and Scheer was ninth. Both cowboys reaped a harvest of over $100,000 in 2018 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association checks to earn those slots.
“It’s been a good year,” said a humble Dent, who took home 11 bareback buckles in 2018. “It seems like I drew some good horses and was able to capitalize on those opportunities.”
“It’s been a great year,” echoed Scheer. During the season, Scheer nabbed seven PRCA saddlebronc buckles, along with earning more than $400,000 at The American rodeo in Arlington, Texas. Although money won at The American did not count toward qualification for the WNFR, he earned more than enough in other rodeos to get his invite. “I had a good winter. I just kind of drew some really good horses later on in the year that kind of got that final push in there.”
Despite his dozen accomplished years in the sport, Scheer remains enthused about returning to the WNFR.
“Oh, it’s exciting,” Scheer said. “That’s the goal is to get there and once you get there, do as good as you can and see where the chips fall. I am really excited to go back.”
A veteran of rodeo himself, Dent described the kind of help he receives behind the scenes to maintain the success he has had since 2006.
“My family helps me a bunch,” Dent said. “My wife, she watches the kids and takes care of everything on the ranch while I am gone. Without that it wouldn’t be possible. My parents have always been helpful if she needs something. It is a team effort, for sure. The way I look at it is the more I can win when I am gone, the less I have to be gone. I try to rodeo with that in mind.”
While both cowboys are ranked outside the top five in their events, the significant added money at the WNFR gives every contestant a legitimate chance to win about $200,000 over the 10-day rodeo, which can vault every competitor on the scene to the top spot and a world title when the dust clears after the final round.
“It is outstanding,” said Scheer about the amount of money up for grabs in the PRCA’s annual championship rodeo. “I try not to think too much about 10 rounds, more or less, but … one round at a time. What I try to do is have my mind set on one horse and then move to the next one rather than thinking about the whole rodeo. But yeah, it is exciting to know you have a chance to win that much. There are dang sure a lot of places I could put it,” he finished with a laugh.
“The WNFR is so good now (and) you can make so much money there that … if you still have the ability to make the WNFR, it makes it tough to not try,” Dent said. “It used to be a good finals saw a few guys win over $100,000. After the new contract with Las Vegas Events, now there are a few guys that win over $200,000 It is really crazy.”
On top of the lure in winning a world title and earning six-figure checks, the cowboys of the corn will both arrive in the city of lights to reunite with their rodeo family and satisfy their competitive spirits.
“I would have to say my favorite part of the WNFR is getting on great horses with my buddies and having a good time,” said Scheer. “My whole family will be out there. You are in one spot for 10 days, so it is nice not having to jump in (a vehicle) and drive all night to the next rodeo. It is good to see all your friends and family. It is kind of a Cowboy Christmas kind of deal. Your whole rodeo family is there to hang out and have fun.
“Yeah, just getting on 10 good horses and riding against the best guys in the world,” said Dent regarding what he likes most about the WNFR. “As a competitor, that is why you do it.” ❖
— Rogers is a freelance writer and photographer located east of Parker, Colo. He can be reached at email@example.com or
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Laramie County Community College ranch horse team members finish in top 10 at the first fall contest at the Adams County Fairgrounds in Brighton, Colo., on Saturday.