LAS VEGAS – Practice has become a saving grace for Coleman Proctor, and it paid off Thursday during opening night of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Proctor, the 15th-ranked header in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world standings, got a late start in his first-round run with heeler Billie Jack Saebens. That put him behind the steer he was hoping to catch quickly.
“Being the first man out tonight, I wanted to make sure he was stepping in front of me and that I didn’t break the barrier,” said Proctor of Pryor, Okla. “He was a step ahead of me the whole way, and I had to make a throw at the end of the pen.”
He made the turn, and Saebens roped the two back legs to stop the clock in 5.2 seconds. The tandem finished sixth on the night and pocketed $4,231 in the process.
“I’ve never won money in Round 1, so I was really excited to do that,” Proctor said. “I had hoped to come in here and get the round win with my partner’s first NFR, but instead I had to run him to the back end of the pen and let him throw for the money.”
Every the realist, he took every step of the run in stride, even making a joke about it.
“Thank God Lonestar makes a long rope,” he said with a laugh.
Proctor pushed his season earnings to $76,254 and remains 15th in the world standings, but nine rounds of the richest rodeo in the world remain ahead of him.
“I’m going to go home tonight and study film and think about making a better run tomorrow,” he said. “I’m going to work on trying to get a better start, but it’s good that we can still catch some at the back end (of the arena). It just goes to show how great my partner is and how great our horses are.”
But that’s where practice has come into play. Proctor has worked on every scenario possible when it comes to roping inside Thomas & Mack Center.
“It’s easy to rope at the NFR if you stay within 30 feet of the (start),” Proctor said. “Then it gets really hard when you run one past that. I’ve always set up so I could go toward the back end and still be able to stay with it. I just focus on staying relaxed and finishing the run. It’s encouraging that when I put myself into that situation that I was able to respond and still finish in the money.
“It’s especially nice with how much the average pays now.”
The team that finishes with the best 10-round cumulative time will win the average championship and more than $67,000 in the process.
“We’re still going to have the same approach that we’ve had since the beginning, and that’s to try to win something on every steer we run,” he said. “We just need to do what we do, and that’s make the best run on every steer we have. That’s what we’ve been practicing to do since we got together in April.”
It’s worked pretty well so far.