NWSS rodeo brings out the best
One of the biggest winter tour rodeos in the PRCA is the National Western Stock Show (NWSS), and its placement on the calendar allows contestants to climb early season standings if they pocket a winner’s check north of $10,000. As a result, the NWSS is a rodeo no one wants to miss, and the final round is chock full of top-notch competitors dueling rank animals or stopping the timers against the best in the sport.
2012 was no different, as multiple world champions competed in the final round before a sold out crowd inside the Denver Coliseum. After rowdy introductions involving lasers, flames and fireworks, it was rodeo time on Sunday afternoon, January 22. First out of the chutes were the bareback cowboys and they didn’t disappoint.
Former world champs Bobby Mote and Kaycee Field, along with Colorado cowboy Casey Colletti, warmed up the crowd with rides on Burch, Kesler and Cervi horses, leaving the atmosphere ripe for Wes Stevenson to pluck a title. Riding third from last, Stevenson shot into the arena aboard Burch Rodeo’s Friendly Fire, a bay tornado with three white socks and a whirlwind of kicking action. The duo jumped out of the gate and turned left, bucking strong from rail to rail. While Stevenson’s hat hit the sand, he never did, and the 85-point effort was good enough for the average win and audience pandemonium.
“That’s a really good horse,” praised Stevenson about Friendly Fire. “He’s been a horse that everyone wants to have.”
Asked regarding performing in the historic venue’s final round, Stevenson was happy with the experience.
“It’s really good,” replied the Lubbock, Texas, cowboy about competing in front of Denver’s enthusiastic rodeo fans. “This is the first kind of big rodeo for 2012. You can’t start the year off any better.”
Another cowboy pleased with mile high January success was steer wrestler Justin Blaine Davis. The Texan’s 5.4 time in the round gave him 15.6 seconds on three head to keep him in front of two-time world champ Dean Gorsuch, whose own fast time of 4.6 couldn’t make up the difference in the standings.
“I love it here. It’s great,” said Davis about the NWSS crowd as he also gave perspective to his early season win. “You know, I won Denver in ’99 and I never thought there was going to be another poor day. It’s not how you start but how you finish,” he continued. “I’m blessed to win it again, but my next rodeo is the most important one.”
While it may not be the most important rodeo to multiple world champion barrel racer Brittany Pozzi, the NWSS is one of her very favorites. Pozzi loves competing in Denver and, with four NWSS buckles over the last six years, it’s safe to say the venue loves her back. The diminutive Texas cowgirl sported a wide grin after notching her latest title with a fast 15.32 second run aboard a new horse named Duke and was happy to talk about her stock show victory.
“I think this is my lucky place,” declared Pozzi with an infectious laugh. “I’m glad it’s Denver. It’s one of the biggest (rodeos) of the year and it’s a great way to start out the year.”
Asked if she feels comfortable in Denver and looks forward to competing at the NWSS every year, her reply was eager.
“I do,” Pozzi stated. “I make sure I never miss the books at Denver.”
More contestants who will most likely never miss Denver in the future are Team Ropers Ty St. Goddard and Ryle Whitford, a pair of Blackfeet Tribe members from Browning, Mont. Coming into the final round on top of the field, the young ropers didn’t allow pressure to affect them as they nailed down a 6.5 second run to capture the biggest win of their careers.
“It feels good,” said a smiling Whitford as he gripped his trophy buckle with both hands.
Questioned about competing in the NWSS championship round, the soft-spoken roper had few words, but they were sincere.
“This is a big crowd,” he described of the high energy environment. “It’s the biggest place I’ve ever been to (and) it’s a big win for us.”
It was a big win for Louisiana saddle bronc cowboy Cody DeMoss, as well. DeMoss was injured during NFR competition in December and it was fair to wonder if he would be recovered enough to notch a major rodeo. The wondering was over when DeMoss burst into the arena aboard a Kesler Rodeo horse named Starburst and sealed the deal. After the big sorrel showered the arena with kicks, the resulting 87-point score gave DeMoss the average lead.
“It’s a great way to start the year,” stated DeMoss afterward. “I went to the NFR last year and got stomped on and broke some bones, so right here at the first of the year, (I was) just needing a win.”
Asked if he was surprised to win Denver after his recent injuries, DeMoss offered praise to a higher source.
“I’ve come to realize with God you don’t need to be surprised about nothing, because anything is possible,” he revealed with a smile.
After praising the Good Lord, the Louisiana cowboy then praised the NWSS.
“Man, it’s a great rodeo,” he said with emphasis. “It’s turned into something that nobody can miss.”
“Denver is a real prestigious rodeo,” agreed Wyoming bull rider Seth Glause, whose 87-point ride on Burch Rodeo’s Death Warrant gave him a 13-point lead in the average. “It’s real special (and) it pretty much kicks off the year.”
Death Warrant jump-started Glause’s year when the large black and white bull came out of the gate kicking and spinning left. There was a moment of doubt in the first few seconds, but Glause settled in while the bull spun hard and the crowd cheered for the ride and the solid score thereafter. Being a Mountain States Circuit cowboy, Glause was thrilled to win a prestigious NWSS title.
“To win an event (here), it’s pretty awesome,” he confided with a smile. “I don’t know how to explain it, I guess. I’m just real excited.”
NWSS officials were just as happy with the results.
“We’re very excited about the way the rodeo has gone this year,” said Marvin Witt, NWSS V.P. of Operations. “The cream has really come to the top here in the finals (and) it was a really exciting event.”
Bareback: Wes Stevenson
Steer Wrestling: Justin Blaine Davis
Saddle Bronc: Cody DeMoss
Tie Down Roping: Justin Maass
Team Roping: Ty St. Goddard/Ryle Whitford
Bull Riding: Seth Glause
Barrel Racing: Brittany Pozzi