Joyce Whitis

The National Finals Rodeo begins its 10 day run Dec. 3 with those of us who have to watch from a chair in the living room instead of whooping it up for our heroes at Thomas & Mack Coliseum. The TV schedule for live telecasts extends past my bedtime. Runs are re-aired at later times but for those who want to see the action first, itís just a matter of heating up the midnight coffee and kicking back in a recliner.

Excitement in Las Vegas is always going full blast but for rodeo fans, the awards banquet and ceremony on Dec. 2 is a great introduction for the next 10 days. Recipients on the big night receive honors for their past achievements and this year two of our local rodeo folks will be getting awards extended to them on behalf of their champion quarter horses. We have mentioned previously that Pearl, owned by State Representative Sid Miller, has been voted tie-down roping horse of the year and that Diesel, ridden and owned by Randon Adams of Dublin has been selected team-roping heeling horse of the year. Diesel receives this honor for the second consecutive year.

Cody Ohl of Hico, champion tie-down roper, picked up Pearl from Sidís stalls and the pair are on their way to Las Vegas for a little pre-finals practice. Randon and Diesel are headed out that way too and next week weíll get to watch the champions in action.

ESPN2 and ESPN Classic alternate in carrying the big show so check your television schedule for time and station.

The Wrangler NFR has sold out more than 220 consecutive performances according to press releases from the PRCA but as anybody knows, there are always tickets clutched in the hands of those who make money from selling them to late arrivals. They wear canvas aprons full of money and stand beside the road near red lights waving tickets at the drivers near the arena. If you give up enough money, you can always get a ticket.

†This year the WNFR will pay out something like $5.75 million to cowboys and cowgirls whose efforts have earned them a spot in the top 15 of each event and happily Erath County will send its share of top rodeo athletes, both human and animal, to Sin City.

†Hereís a list of locals that have qualified to be included in the best of the best:

†Chad Masters of Santo leads the list of team roping headers with season total earnings of $127,749. Travis Tryan is 7th and his brother, Clay is 15th. The Tryan brothers, native to Billings, Montana, hang out most of the time in Erath County.

Richard Durham, of Morgan Mill, goes to Las Vegas in 2nd with $111,598, team-roping heeler, behind Jade Corkill of Nevada who has earned just $7,000 more. Richard could come away with a championship after 10 rounds in Vegas.

†Martin Lucero, of Stephenville, has been in 4th place, team-roping heeling, most of the season and he looks good to go with more than $90,000 won.† Martin tried to retire to roping on weekends a few years ago but last season he came roaring back and finished the year in 6th place. This will make Martinís 10 trip to the NFR.

†Randon Adams has a Dublin address now and he sits in 7th place in team roping heeling with his award winning horse, Diesel. He finished his 3rd trip to the NFR in 1st place last December and Diesel also place 1st. Both horse and rider are local heroes to watch.

Michael Jones, of Stephenville, team-roping heeling, goes to the Thomas & Mack, for the 4th time. He is currently in 8th place in the standings just a handful of dollars behind Randon (7th) and Brad Culpepper (6th). It wonít take many seconds to move him up.

Isaac Diaz, of Stephenville, will travel to Las Vegas 7th in Saddle Bronc Riding. Isaac is also a student at Tarleton and a valuable member of the TSU Rodeo Team. Isaac is from Florida and when he first moved to Stephenville listed his residence as Florida but he soon changed it to Stephenville.

Ryan Watkins, of Dublin, (8th) and Cody Ohl, of Hico, (9th) in tie-down roping will be competing for dollars and gold buckles next week when the NFR begins. Ryan was a very productive member of the TSU rodeo team a few years back. Cody, who has won 6 world titles, is always fun to watch and is capable of the unexpected at any time. Remember, heíll be seated on Pearl in the box so there will be two from Stephenville to watch.

And so, rodeo fans, this time next week it all begins for a 10-performance run and when the arena dust settles, champions will be awarded gold buckles. Erath County is involved in the world championships, both men and animal. Be prepared to cheer them on. Happy trails.