LAS VEGAS – Hunter Cure isn’t the biggest steer wrestler at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Cowboys like Jule Hazen, Bray Armes and world champions Dean Gorsuch and Luke Branquinho tower over the 6-foot, 195-pound Cure. But nobody handled the biggest pen of cattle inside the Thomas & Mack Center on Monday night than the Holliday, Texas, cowboy, who downed his steer in 4.1 seconds to win the fifth go-round.
“If you would’ve asked me which pen I thought I’d win a go-round in, it wouldn’t have been the strong pen,” Cure said.
Now in his second qualification to ProRodeo’s grand finale, Cure earned his first go-round title, pocketing $18,630 in the process. That pushed his NFR earnings to $39,363 – not too bad for five days’ worth of work.
Most importantly, though, he has moved to fourth in the world standings and trials leader Casey Martin by about $22,000. If everything falls into place the way Cure needs, he could take the lead in two days. But everything’s got to go perfectly, and that’s just not the nature of competition – in fact, he’s just one night removed from a frustrating 12.3-second run.
“I felt like the round was never going to end,” said Cure, who was the first bulldogger to run Monday. “It seemed like world champion after world champion was behind me. I’m extremely excited just to place in that round, much less win.
“Being able to get that steer’s head across me was the key. I made a mistake last night of not getting that steer’s head placed. I didn’t want to do that two nights in a row.”
He didn’t. In fact, he ended his statement with an exclamation point.
“I had to get my hat peeled down tight tonight and try to be a little more aggressive,” he said.
He called run a little bit of redemption. Even through his frustration, he took the opportunity to find adjustments with Sunday’s performance.
“Usually I have a 30-minute rule; it was more like a three-hour deal,” Cure said. I was a little upset with myself over that run. I watched the replay and tried to make adjustments. My thought is after last night and spotting the field in the average, I need to be aggressive for the next half of this rodeo in order to play catch up.”