LAS VEGAS – Matt Sherwood’s been around the team roping game a long time, so he knew the odds were against his 10.5-second run making any money Sunday during the fourth go-round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Sometimes the odds work in the player’s favor, even in Las Vegas.
Sherwood and his partner, Cory Petska of Marana, Ariz., finished the day in fifth place, earning checks worth $4,615 each – only the top six times and scores earn money at the NFR.
“I was a little late, and that steer we had ran a little more than I was expecting,” said Sherwood, a two-time world champion header from Pima, Ariz. “When I looked at that time, I was pretty sure there was no way we were going to win any money, but then things fell apart.”
Yes, they did. How bad was it?
During Saturday’s third round, a 4.6-second run finished sixth. On Sunday, Trevor Brazile and Patrick Smith settled for 4.7 seconds to earn second-place round money.
Good fortune sometimes follows those who work hardest, and that’s definitely the case with Sherwood and Petska. The team has placed in three of four go-rounds and earned $28,558 just before the midway point of the 10-night marathon, where ProRodeo’s world champions will be crowned. Sherwood has moved up one spot to third place in the heading world standings, while Petska is the No. 2 heeler.
The goal, of course, is that elusive world championship, and it takes consistency over the course of the regular season; that plays a big role in how the game is played on ProRodeo’s biggest stage, where go-round winners earn a check for $17,885 each night. Sherwood and Petska are veterans – this is Petska’s ninth trip to the NFR, while Sherwood has earned the Montana Silversmiths gold buckle awarded to world champions in his two previous qualifications to Las Vegas.
The two are fourth in the average race with a four-run cumulative time of 19.1 seconds. They’re most important task is to collect as much money in the go-rounds as possible – in rodeo, dollars not only help pay bills but also are the points that determine championships; the contestant in each event with the most money won through the conclusion of the NFR will be crowned world champion.
Still, there’s a $45,865 payout awaiting the roper with the top cumulative time when the 10th round is complete. Petska is $5,000 behind heeling leader Travis Graves, while Sherwood is about $16,000 behind Clay Tryan. Of course, one go-round win for the Arizona tandem might make a big difference in just one night.