LAS VEGAS -- And the door has swung wide-open in the race for the world all-around title.
Dustin Bird and Russell Cardoza took a no time in the ninth round of the National Finals Rodeo on Friday night, giving the top nine in the all-around standings a mathematical chance at the most coveted buckle in professional rodeo.
The 10-round NFR, which will determine nine world champions, concludes Saturday night at the Thomas and Mack Center. Every world title race is going down to the last performance.
Bird, of Cut Bank, will enter the final night of the 2016 season leading the world all-around standings. However, less than $18,500 separates the top four in the standings. Bird has a tenuous lead of $2,574 over steer wrestler Clayton Hass, who is second in the standings.
Clay Smith, who leads the team roping average, is fifth, trailing Bird by $52,000. First place in the average is worth $67,269.
Just 24 hours after winning the eighth round with a time of 3.7 seconds – the fastest of the NFR – Bird and Cardoza took their third no time. The miss dropped them to eighth in the average. Hass is sixth in the steer wrestling average. Eighth in the average pays $6,346.
The 36-year-old Bird is also second in the world team roping heading standings.
None of the competitors with Montana ties went to the pay window in the ninth round.
You have free articles remaining.
J.R. Vezain was 82.5 points in bareback ride. While not earning a check, the Cowley, Wyo., cowboy moved up to second in the average. If Vezain stays second, he will earn another $54,576 and move into the top eight of the world standings. Vezain enters Saturday 12th in the world.
Power’s Jess Davis was 80.5 points in bareback riding for a second night in a row. He is ninth in the average and 15th in the world standings.
Ty Erickson of Helena had a time of 5.7 seconds in steer wrestling. The former Montana State standout is ninth in the average and sixth in the world standings.
Lisa Lockhart continues to lead the barrel racing average. She put up a time of 13.76 seconds. The Circle native, who competed in just 38 WPRA rodeos during the regular season, remains in the top five of the world standings. She is competing at her 10th consecutive NFR.
Shane Proctor, who rode his first seven bulls, was bucked off a second straight performance. The former Northwest College standout remains first in the average and is third in the world standings. Proctor started the NFR 15th in the world standings. Proctor, 31, is the oldest bull rider in the field.
Ninth-round winners were: Tanner Aus, bareback, 88.5 points; Riley Duvall, steer wrestling, 3.6 seconds; Kolton Schmidt and Shay Carroll, team roping, 3.6 seconds; Ryder Wright, saddle bronc, 88.5 points; Ryan Jarrett, Marty Yates, tie-down roping, 7.4 seconds; Amberleigh Moore, barrel racing, 13.49 seconds; Brennon Eldred, bull riding, 94.5 points.
Notes: Moore’s barrel racing time is a ninth-round record. The previous best was 13.53 seconds by Lindsay Sears in 2008 … Eldred’s 94.5 points is the high-mark bull ride of the NFR. He is second in the world standings. … Wright earned his fifth go-round win in saddle bronc riding. He won the first four rounds and was bucked off the next four before Friday … Former Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit champion Zeke Thurston is second in the saddle bronc average … Schmidt and Carroll’s 3.6 in team roping is the fastest of the NFR … Jarrett is the only cowboy not named Trevor Brazile to win the world all-around title since 2002. Jarrett won the gold buckle in 2005 … There were only four qualified bull rides on Friday night. ... Steer wrestler Ty Waguespack leads the Ram Top Gun Award standings with $145,948. Wright is second with $141,153.