Bull rider Ardie Maier of Timber Lake won the 10th and final round of the 52nd annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He rode Scent Loc to a 91.5-point score to earn $17,512 in the 30-year-old's first appearance at the WNFR. Maier finished 13th in the world this year by earning $96,358.19.
Meanwhile, barrel racer Jill Moody of Letcher won the WNFR average with a record 10-run total time of 138.26 seconds, earning an event-best $133,035. Her total time broke the previous mark of 138.93 seconds from 1986, the oldest WNFR average record in the books.
Winning the average earned the 45-year-old Moody $44,910. Not only did she finish second in the 2010 world standings with $219,686, she finished second in four of her WNFR 10 rounds: by five-hundredths of a second (13.59 to 13.64) in Round 9; by one one-hundredth of a second (13.62 to 13.63) in Round 5; by four-hundredths of a second (13.80 to 13.84) in Round 4; and by three-hundredths of a second (13.68 to 13.71) in Round 2.
This was Moody's third time in the finals. She won the 2005 Dacotah Stampede Rodeo barrel racing title in Aberdeen.
The WNFR featured 119 of the world's best cowboys and cowgirls, including five other South Dakotans:
Joe Gunderson of Agar: Bareback rider, 25. Earned $116,424.74 (11th in world) this year. First time in the finals and won Round 1 at WNFR. Won the 2004 Dacotah Stampede Rodeo bareback title in Aberdeen.
Lisa Lockhart of Oelrichs: Barrel racer, 45. Earned $188,027
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(fourth in world) this year, including $$28,810 at the finals. Won Rounds 1 and 5 at WNFR. Fourth time in finals.
Todd Suhn of Hermosa: Steer wrestler, 37. Earned $146,418.24 (sixth in world) this year. Won Round 3 at WNFR. 14th time in the finals.
Jeff Willert of Belvidere: Saddle bronc rider, 28. Earned $125,106.22 (seventh in the world) this year. Sixth time in the finals. 2005 saddle bronc world champion.
J.J. Elshere of Quinn: Saddle bronc rider, 31. Earned $87,356.83 (12th in world) this year. Fourth time in the finals.
Some other highlights:
Barrel racer Lisa Lockhart, who has competed in Aberdeen, did all her work in Vegas aboard her back-up horse Louie, a 7-year-old buckskin gelding. Her main horse, Chism, is recovering from a fall during a practice run for the finals. “I thought he worked phenomenally well,” Lockhart said of Louie. “He felt really focused. He did his job.”
McKenzie Haley of Winner was crowned Miss Rodeo America. South Dakota has had three other national winners since the contest started in 1956: Leslie (Patten) White of Belle Fourche in 1985; Donna Keffeler of Sturgis in 1982; and Pat (Koren) Sanmartin of Rapid City in 1965.
For the 11th straight year, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association named the 88-year-old Deadwood Days of '76 Rodeo the outdoor rodeo of the year in its category.
On the first night (Dec. 2) of the 10-round rodeo in his first time at the national finals, South Dakota bareback rider Joe Gunderson of Agar rode the horse Good Times for 88 points to win the round and earn $17,512. “This whole year has been a dream come true for me, and I've been fortunate with the way everything's gone,” Gunderson said.
Each of the 10 nights of the 52nd annual finals at the 17,683-seat Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas was sold out.
Tie-down roper Cody Ohl of Hico, Texas, this year joined Fred Whitfield and South Dakota native Billy Etbauer of Ree Heights as cowboys who have earned $1 million at the Wrangler NFR.
Etbauer still holds several finals records, including his 52 career wins of rounds at the finals. Ohl moved up that list to second this as he now has 40 wins.
Ohl had a great finals as he earned more money in 10 days in Las Vegas ($78,239) than he did during the entire regular season ($76,498).
Fourteen-time Wrangler NFR qualifier Todd Suhn of Hermosa took over the lead in the steer wrestling world standings after his sixth-place finish in Round 4. A $2,825 check in the fourth round pushed him past Canada's Curtis Cassidy; Suhn led with $122,127, while Cassidy had $121,018 with six rounds remaining.
Trevor Brazile of Decatur, Texas, his second Triple Crown in four years: winning the world titles in tie-down roping, team roping and all-around cowboy. He became the first contestant in ProRodeo history to earn $500,000 in a single season with his $507,921, including a pro rodeo record $211,509 at the WNFR.