LAS VEGAS – After months of traveling across the country, Casey Colletti found a pretty good place to make a significant living.
Colletti, a bareback rider from Pueblo, Colo., found a small fortune in a week and a half in the Nevada desert, and it wasn’t at the blackjack table at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. No, Colletti did his best work on the backs of the greatest bucking horses in ProRodeo during his first qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
“This is just awesome,” said Colletti, who attended Garden City (Kan.) Community College on a rodeo scholarship. “To have this kind of week here … I really never even dreamed about it.”
Colletti placed in seven of 10 go-rounds on ProRodeo’s biggest stage, including the victory on the ninth night by riding Smith Harper & Morgan’s Jessie’s girl for 87.5 points. His final night might’ve been the busiest for the 25-year-old cowboy, who was matched against a fantastic horse, Lancaster & Pickett’s Top Flight.
But the animal slipped to the ground, resulting in a 70.5 score and the option for a re-ride – in rodeo’s roughstock events, cowboys can take a re-ride if the animal does not perform well enough. So Colletti mounted Beutler & Son Rodeo’s South Point, and the result was 75.5 points, several spots out of the money.
Still, Colletti had a pretty strong week, the fourth best among the 15 best bareback riders in the world, 13 of which have played on the biggest stage in ProRodeo before – Colletti and Oregon cowboy Brian Bain were the only two NFR rookies in the field. In all, the Colorado cowboy earned $82,644, including a check of $15,577 for finishing fifth in the average race with a cumulative total of 820 points through 10 rides.
“To have a week like that is, really, unbelievable,” he said.