Arizona bulldogger Ethan Thouvenell badly needed a big payday in the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo.
“I was broke,” said Thouvenell, a two-time qualifier to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. “I needed to win here. I needed to win something so I could keep going to these rodeos.”
Thouvenell earned a big paycheck by capturing pro rodeo's steer wrestling national championship Saturday night at State Fair Arena.
The Whittman, Ariz., cowboy was going to return home and “get some money built back up” if he didn't win big in Oklahoma City.
“This is going to keep me out there,” Thouvenell said.
Thouvenell won $14,396 in cash during the three-day rodeo plus an additional $20,000 voucher for a Ram pickup.
Thouvenell had qualified to the National Circuit Finals Rodeo four previous times, and the most he had ever won before was $1,000.
“It's a big relief,” he said of Saturday night's win. “I can pay my bills finally.”
GOOD THING HE STAYED
Oregon bareback bronc rider Bobby Mote was visiting the Oklahoma City Zoo on Saturday when he received a text message that he had qualified for Saturday night's championship round.
The top eight in the average qualified to ride Saturday night, when the slate was wiped clean. No previous scores counted.
“I almost went home yesterday because I was fifth in the average and there was one more (round),” Mote said. “I thought there was no way I was going to make it back.”
Mote's wife talked him into staying. Mote, a four-time world champion, then finished in the top four in the semifinals Saturday night, which qualified him for the finals, where the slate was wiped clean again.
Mote and Kansas cowboy Jared Keylon both scored an 87 in the finals. But Mote won the national championship because his score in the semifinals was higher.
Mote also won the National Circuit Finals Rodeo two years ago on a tiebreaker.
“I will take it any way I can get it,” Mote said.
Two contestants defended their national titles from one year ago in the National Circuit Finals Rodeo.
Idaho cowboy Matt Shiozawa captured the tie-down roping, and Texas cowgirl Brittany Pozzi won the barrel racing for a second straight year.
Former Oklahoman Carlee Pierce finished second to Pozzi in the barrel racing for the second consecutive year.
Pierce, of Stephenville, Texas, won Thursday and Saturday afternoon's go-rounds on her horse, Dillion, and might have won the national title Saturday night if not for clipping the first barrel in the finals.
“I think it cost me the win but, hey, second place is a good check,” said Pierce, who spent most of her life in the Freedom/Woodward area.
Pierce actually won more cash ($20,429) than Pozzi ($18,783) in the rodeo, but Pozzi received the $20,000 voucher for the Ram pickup for being the champion.
OTHER OKLAHOMANS IN THE FIELD
Bulldogger Stockton Graves, formerly of Newkirk and now the rodeo coach at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, finished second in the steer wrestling to Thouvenell.
Joe Frost, a member of the rodeo team at Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell, finished second in bull riding to Iowa cowboy John Young.
Frost is the second cousin of Lane Frost of Atoka, who died after being struck by a bull during the Frontier Days Rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyo., in 1989.
Apache cowboy Bryson Sechrist finished fifth in the tie-down roping in the semifinals, just missing the cut for the final four.