LAS VEGAS – Hunter Cure is hoping to close out a great Wrangler National Finals Rodeo on a great note.
Cure, a steer wrestler from Holliday, Texas, finished in a four-way tie for third place in Friday’s ninth go-round, marking the sixth time in this year’s finale that he has placed. Heading into the final night of the NFR on Saturday, he has earned nearly $70,000 and sits No. 2 in the world standings with $134,893; he trails leader Matt Reeves by just $7,456.
What that means is that Cure is one of numerous cowboys in contention for the 2013 world championship, and it’ll come down to the cowboys’ final run of the season to decide who will wear the gold buckle.
On Friday night, Cure knocked his steer to the ground in 3.7 seconds and earned $6,686 for sharing third place with two-time world champ Dean Gorsuch, four-time titlist Luke Branquinho and Navada cowboy Dakota Eldridge.
“That steer stopped with Trevor Knowles in Round 6, so I was a little hesitant about my draw,” Cure said. “Luke and I talked about it, and he gave me some advice about how to go about it, and the game plan worked exceptionally well.”
Hazer Riley Duvall put the steer in prime position for Cure, and that set everything up to be fast.
“Riley was able to stay beside him on the haze and not get too far ahead of him to let him stop,” Cure said. “That allowed the steer to have some momentum to come around me and hit the ground.”
That type of handling helps make up fragments of a second, which makes a big difference in steer wrestling. For instance, fellow Texan Bray Armes was just one-tenth of a second faster than the quartet and earned $14,724 – that $8,000 pay difference can play a big role in the world championship race, where the bulldogger with the most money at the NFR’s conclusion will earn the gold buckle.
“I’ve got to attack a little bit in the 10th round,” Cure said. “That 3-6 split lets Bray creep up there a little closer, so we just need to attack.”
Armes and Reeves are just two of Cure’s opponents that are part of the world-title race, but they’re also good friends. In fact, all three cowboys are utilizing the services of Duvall as their hazer, and Armes and Reeves are riding the same horse.
“We’re all shooting for the same goal, and that’s why we came out here,” said Cure, now in his second qualification to the NFR. “We’re friends at the end of the day, but we also have to support our families.”
The money is vital to their cause, but they all have those gold buckle dreams.