Sunday, December 13, 2009

Brazile wins seventh all-around rodeo title

By Anthony Fenech

Sunday, Dec. 13, 2009 | 2:01 a.m.

There is a new king of cowboys.

Trevor Brazile is the 2009 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo champion and now seven-time All-Around World Champion Cowboy.

"Oh, man," a relieved Brazile said afterward. "The only day better than the 10th round is the day after the 10th round. It's been a tough week."

With the Saturday victory in front of 17,418 at Thomas & Mack Center, Brazile tied the record of the legendary Ty Murray, who also won seven all-around titles.

"We worked hard this year," Brazile said. "We were first and second in the money winners the past two years and we were coming in with some severe confidence."

Josh Peek of Pueblo, Colo., had the only chance to catch Brazile in the all-around standings during the final day, but was eliminated after the third event when he didn't place in a money position or finish in one of the top two spots.

"If there's a lesson for anybody out there," Brazile said, "it's that you can get set back really easily here. This is the quickest serving of humble pie you can get in any sport.

"There are guys out here battling and there's nothing that says the next year you can't get over the hump."

Bareback riding: Bobby Mote completed his comeback against Clint Cannon and captured his first gold buckle, scoring an 88.5 to Cannon's 79 in the tenth and final go-around.

"All year when you're training and driving in the middle of the night, you dream of having a Finals like this," Mote said. "But so do 14 other guys. To actually have it happen, I'm just thankful for the way things have worked out."

Mote ended his Finals strong, winning each of the last two go-rounds and finishing first in average points and total world earnings for 2009, with $310,219.

That total sets a single-season earnings record.

"Clint has held my feet to the fire all year," he said. "And it's helped me lift my game and perform better."

Steer wrestling: Canada's Lee Graves will remain on top of the steer wrestling world.

Graves, a Calgary Alberta native, won his second-straight NFR gold buckle, as he vaulted from third place to first with his final go-round of 3.5 seconds.

"This one means more," Graves said. "Because I appreciate it more. Last year, it was a long time coming and I prepared myself for it. This year, it was a longer road back."

His climb to first was aided when Luke Branquinho lost control of his steer's horns and had to chase it around the ring until his time was up.

"I kind of threw the steer out of my arms," Branquinho, a two-time world champion said. "The judge didn't think I got a hand on him. That's just part of the game."

Graves moved ahead of Branquinho in the total world earnings on the day.

Team roping: The Oklahoma pair of Nick Sartain and, in his first NFR appearance, heeler Kollin VonAhn won the gold buckle in team roping.

"We believed that we could do it and we did it," Sartain said.

Sartain and VonAhn, from Yukon and Durant, Okla., respectively, took both the total world earnings title and NFR average title with a fourth-place finish in the 10th go-around.

Earlier in the week, they split a first-place finish in the fifth go-around and finished once in second and once in third. The duo won a combined $372,210 on the season.

Saddle bronc riding: Cody DeMoss' non-time in the 10th go-around opened the door for Montana's Jesse Kruse to win a gold buckle in his first NFR appearance.

Kruse capitalized on that opportunity the way DeMoss hasn't been able to so far and took the world earnings title with $194,465.

"I couldn't ask for more than this," Kruse said. "It would have been great to come in here and have a nice Finals to say you made it here and come back and win it in the future, but I'd rather get it done this way the first time."

Kruse finished fourth in average points, three spots behind winner Shaun Stroh.

"I just stayed aggressive, stuck to the basics and rode the bulls as hard as I could," Kruse said.

DeMoss continues to come painfully close at the NFR. This year's runner-up performance marked the fourth time he has finished second in Las Vegas, joining 2004, 2005, 2006, as well as a third-place finish in 2007.

Tie-down roping: In addition to his seventh-straight all-around championship, Brazile captured his second tie-down roping world earnings title in the past three years.

"Calf roping went pretty well this year," he said. "I had a lead to protect and different strategies."

19-year-old Tuf Cooper, son of eight-time world champion and ProRodeo Hall of Famer Roy Cooper, finished first with an average of 84.50 per round.

Cooper was the 2008 PRCA Rookie of the Year.

Barrel racing: The all-time winningest cowgirl keeps on winning.

Sherri Cervi won the 2009 NFR average title by 0.05 seconds with a 10th go-around win in barrel racing.

Cervi, a two-time world champion, averaged a time of 13.90 in her 10 runs at the Thomas & Mack Center the past two weeks.

She was followed by Lindsay Sears and Brittany Pozzi in average Finals points and finished third in 2009 world earnings, one spot behind Sears.

"I thought I rode a great Finals," Sears said. "The conditions were tougher here than they ever have been."

Bull riding: J.W. Harris' lead in the world earnings was so high that he won his second straight world championship without riding a bull the entire NFR.

Harris was followed by Kanin Asay and Corey Navarre in world earnings.

Asay won the average title with a 434 point average, and Navarre finished in second place with 407.5 points.

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