Faith pro cowboy Cole Elshere rodeoed from Aberdeen to Las Vegas this year.
The saddle bronc rider rode in the Dacotah Stampede in Aberdeen in August and then finished up his season this weekend in Nevada. He was in Vegas for the 10-day 54th annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo that started Dec. 6 and ended Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center.
It was his first Finals rodeo. On Dec. 10, Elshere won Round 5 with an 83-point ride on Lunatic Fringe.
“He was the horse I wanted because I knew I could ride him and he fit my style, but I knew all of the horses out there tonight were capable of beating Lunatic,” Elshere told the PRCA. “It worked out and I’ve been lucky to place in a few rounds before tonight, but winning a round was my goal in my first WNFR.”
Elshere finished fourth in the WNFR average. The average winners are those who have the best average for the 10 rounds of the WNFR.
Elshere also finished seventh in the world standings, based on money won during the 2011-12 season. He won $124,437 this season.
Elshere joined two other South Dakotans who won prestigious rounds at the Finals. On Friday, another Dacotah Stampede veteran won a round in barrel racing. Lisa Lockhart of Oelrichs won Round 9 in 13.66 seconds.
The wife and mother of three also reached a milestone during her sixth straight Finals. The 47-year-old crossed the $1 million mark in earnings during her 12-year-career.
“When you really put things in perspective and see the stats on how few have reached that level, it makes it that much more sweet to know it’s a very elite group,” Lockhart told cowgirlimaging.com. “I’m honored.”
Lockhart finished third in the WNFR average and fifth in the world. She won $180,336 this season.
On Wednesday, Todd Suhn of Hermosa won Round 7 of steer wrestling in a time of 3.6 seconds. Suhn has qualified for the WNFR in steer wrestling 16 times, second only to Roy Duvall, and has won nearly $600,000 at the rodeo, but the feeling never gets old.
“I haven’t done it in a long time, so it was good,” Suhn told the PRCA.
Bullrider Ardie Maier of Timber Lake lacerated his riding hand on the first night, but he rode through the pain. He finished second in Round 4 on Dec. 9.
There were six South Dakotans in the WNFR this year, most of whom have rodeoed in Aberdeen. The other three were Chad Ferley, Oelrichs, saddle bronc riding; Todd Suhn, Hermosa, steer wrestling; and Nikki Steffes, Vale, barrel racing. Steffes was fifth in average.
Here are the 2012 world champions:
Bareback riding: Kaycee Feild of Payson, Utah (second world title, two in a row).
Steer wrestling: Luke Branquinho of Los Alamos, Calif. (fourth world title, two in a row).
Team roping — header: Chad Masters of Cedar Hill, Tenn. (second world title).
Team roping — heeler: Jade Corkill of Fallon, Nev. (first world title).
Saddle bronc riding: Jesse Wright of Milford, Utah (first world title).