LAS VEGAS – For three straight nights, J.D. Struxness was the hottest cowboy at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
He won at least a share of the title in Rounds 3-5 and pocketed just shy of $76,000 for doing so. But his hot streak turned cold in Round 6. Like his run earlier in the week, the cold front stuck around for three straight nights.
He turned the heater back on with a 4.5-second run on Friday night to finish fourth in on Night 9 of ProRodeo’s grand finale. He added $11,000 to his NFR earnings, which have exceeded $100,000.
“When I missed that steer right after my hot streak, that threw a loop into things,” said Struxness, 22, of Appleton, Minn. “We came back and had a fluke thing happen in Round 7. That steer didn’t leave like he was supposed to, and I broke the barrier.”
The barrier line provides the animals a head start in the timed events. When he broke that line, he was saddled with a 10-second penalty. Without that, he would have finished third that night. Instead, he failed to earn any NFR cash.
“That happens, and we bulldogged good that round,” said Struxness, who attended Missouri Valley College and is a senior at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, where he won the college championship this past June. “(Friday) night I got a pretty good start and was able to make a good run and get some money out of it.”
Nobody should complain about earning six figures in nine days, but the young Minnesota cowboy was in the middle of a world championship race at the midway point of the NFR. He has pocketed $186,406 this season and sits third on the money list, but he is mathematically eliminated from grabbing the gold buckle.
Still, he has a chance to pad his pocketbook even more during Saturday’s final round, the last night of the 2016 season.
“We’ve got $26,000 more to run at, so we’ll try to get a start and see what we can do,” he said.
He’s done it before, so there’s no reason for him to believe anything else.