LAS VEGAS – Steer wrestler J.D. Struxness is riding a Wrangler National Finals Rodeo momentum straight to the pay window.
Struxness manhandled his steer to the ground in 3.8 seconds to win the fourth go-round Sunday night, just 24 hours after sharing the third-round win with Louisiana cowboy Tyler Waguespack. For the feat, Struxness earned $26,231 and pushed his NFR earnings to $65,212 in just four nights of work.
With $149,464 earned this season, he sits third in the world standings with six nights left on the ProRodeo season, and he’s got the kind of roll needed for success in Las Vegas.
“Just like last night, we got a good start, and the horse gave me a good go in there,” said Struxness, 22, of Appleton, Minn. “This pen (of steers) tries a little harder (than the other two), and that’s where the horsepower really starts to show. Having a horse that can catch up and give me a go like that makes a big difference in these pens.”
That horse is Peso, a 13-year-old sorrel gelding that he just purchased this fall from Jon Ragatz and Stockton Graves, the latter of whom is Struxness’ rodeo coach at Northwestern Oklahoma State University.
“I rodeoed on him two years ago, so I knew he would probably work pretty good out here,” he said. “He’s done outstanding so far.”
Bulldogging is definitely a team effort. In addition to having a solid horse, Struxness also leans heavily on his hazer, Jacob Shofner, who helps keep the steer lined out for the wrestler to make the perfectly timed jump. Both men had a solid game plan for the animal based on what they saw out of the steer the first time he went during the opening go-round Thursday night.
“Ty Erickson ended up missing him, so we came back this round and had an idea of what we needed to do,” Struxness said. “We both needed to get a good start so we could slick him up right there. We got him down the middle and made a good run on him.”
With the win, the Minnesota cowboy will return to the South Point Casino and Spa for the nightly Montana Silversmiths Go-Round Buckle Presentation.
“Anytime you can go to the South Point, it’s great because it means you’re getting paid,” he said. “I hope I have the momentum rolling in the right way now and can just keep doing it all week.”