SAN ANGELO, Texas – As July rolled into August last year, Joe Lufkin was among the top 15 saddle bronc riders in the game.
He just needed to sustain that position through the rest of the season, and he would have been bound for his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. A groin injury he suffered the first week of August essentially put an end to his bid.
“That’s rodeo,” Lufkin said Wednesday night, shortly after his 83-point ride catapulted him into the lead at the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo. “I sat out for 10 days, and the first rodeo back was in Caldwell, Idaho. I ended up winning the long round at Caldwell, and I tried to keep it going the rest of the year.
“I was right there on the bubble for making the NFR. I tried to see if I could tough it out. I finally just went home.”
His bubble burst, but his confidence didn’t. The case in point was Wednesday’s ride aboard Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Miss Congeniality, an athletic bay mare that has been selected to buck at the NFR three times.
“That’s just a good horse that’s been around for a while,” said Lufkin, 24, of Sallisaw, Okla. “She’s good to get on, the kind of horse you like to get on.”
It doesn’t hurt that Lufkin is pretty good, too. Despite his injury last year, he still finished 20th in the world standings. He is a past Prairie Circuit champion and has finished among the top 25 each of the past two seasons.
“It’s very important to do well in San Angelo,” he said. “This run in the winter sets you up so you can have your money built up for your summer run. Without having that extra money, it can get a little lean when you’re on the road through the summer as much as we are.”
That money not only pays the bills and travel expenses, but dollars equal championship points. The contestants in each event with the most money won at season’s end will be crowned world champions. It’s a dream for most that compete in the sport, and it’s something Lufkin has been shooting for since he decided to do this for a living.
“It’s always my goal to try to make the NFR,” he said. “I try not to overthink it and get ahead of yourself, then just try the best you can.”
He has taken it easy so far this year. San Angelo marked just the sixth time this season he’s been on a horse. Lufkin wants to make sure that groin is healthy, and Wednesday’s ride gave him a little more confidence.
He will now bring that attitude back to San Angelo Coliseum on Friday night for the championship round and the chance to walk away with this year’s title.
“The crowd was big,” Lufkin said. “San Angelo is always a nice plays for us to come. The crowd is always big and into it.
“My confidence is good. I always try to keep my confidence high, because rodeo is such a mental game. You have to stay on top of that.”
San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo
Feb. 3-5, Feb. 10-12, Feb. 15-17
Bareback riding leaders: 1. Austin Foss, 89 points on Powder River Rodeo’s Craig at Midnight; 2. Orin Larsen, 87.5; 3. (tie) Devan Reilly, Tyler Nelson and Ty Breuer, 86 points each; 6. Kelly Timberman, 85; 7. Seth Hardwick, 83; 8. (tie) Clint Laye and Will Martin, 81 each; 10. (tie) Jamie Howlett, Casey Breuer and Kody Lamb, 80 each; 11. (tie) Justin McDaniel, Joel Schlegel, Luke Creasy and Jordan Pelton, 79 each.
Steer wrestling: First round leaders: 1. (tie) Tyler Waguespack and Dakota Eldridge, 3.3 seconds, $3,462 each; 3. (tie) Ty Erickson, Blake Knowles, Monty Eakin, Luke Branquinho and Justen Notes, 3.5, $1,771 each; 8. Stephen Culling, 3.6, $322. Second round leaders: 1. David Hinman, 3.3 seconds; 2. (tie) Baylor Roche, Dirk Tavenner and Josh Peek, 3.5 each; 5. (tie) Timmy Sparring, Clayton Hass, Nick Guy Todd Suhn and Rowdy Thomas, 3.6 each. Average leaders: 1. Tyler Waguespack, 7.0 seconds on two runs; 2. Baylor Roche, 7.2; 3. Todd Suhn, 7.4; 4. (tie) Josh Peek and Blake Knowles, 7.7 each; 6. (tie) Kyle Whitaker and Cooper Shofner, 7.9 each; 8. (tie) Nick Guy, Dakota Eldridge, David Hinman and Dakota Champion, 8.0 each; 12. (tie) Dirk Tavenner and Ty Erickson, 8.1 each.
Team roping: First round leaders: 1. Erich Rogers/Cory Petska, 3.8 seconds, $3,506; 2. JoJo LeMond/Quinn Kesler, 4.1, $3,049; 3. Bart Brunson/Trace Porter, 4.2, $2,592; 4. Chad Masters/Travis Graves, 4.3, $2,134; 5. (tie) Dustin Egusquiza/Kory Koontz and Charly Crawford/Joseph Harrison, 4.5, $1,448 each; 7. (tie) Shawn Besette/Sid Sporer, Tate Kirchenschlager/Trevor Kirchenschlager and Cole Markham/Nick Simmons, 4.6, $356 each. Second round leaders: 1. Derrick Begay/Clay O’Brien Cooper, 3.9 seconds; 2. Nick Sartain/Justin Davis, 4.0; 3. (tie) Caleb Smidt/B.J. Dugger and Matt Sherwood/Joel Bach, 4.1 each; 5. Brett Stuart/Wesley Moss, 4.2; 6. John Alley/Clark Adcock, 4.3; 7. Trevor Brazile/Patrick Smith, 4.4; 8. (tie) Zac Small/Will Woodfin, Travis Tryan/Chase Tryan and Luke Brown/Jake Long, 4.5. Average leaders: 1. Tate Kirchenschlager/Trevor Kirchenschlager, 9.8 seconds on two runs; 2. Luke Brown/Jake Long, 9.9 seconds; 3. Chase Massengill/Kory Bramwell, 10.1; 4. Clayton Van Aken/Shawn Darnall, 10.3; 5. Seth Hall/Byron Wilkerson, 10.6; 6. Dustin Bird/Russell Cardoza, 10.9; 7. Dustin Egusquiza/Kory Koontz, 13.3; 8. Caleb Smidt/B.J. Dugger, 13.4; 9. Travis Tryan/Chase Tryan, 13.9; 10. Charly Crawford/Joseph Harrison, 14.5; 11. Ty Blasingame/Kollin VonAhn, 15.2; 12. Brandon Webb/Mickey Gomez, 15.5.
Saddle bronc riding leaders: 1. Joe Lufkin, 83 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Miss Congeniality; 2. Ryder Wright, 81; 3. (tie) Magin Lane Montoya, Dalton Davis, Isaac Diaz and Layton Green, 80 each; 7. CoBurn Bradshaw, 79.5; 8. (tie) Zeke Thurston, Jesse Kruse and Cole Elshere, 78.5 each; 9. (tie) Jacobs Crawley and Chuck Schmidt, 78 each.
Tie-down roping: First round leaders: 1. (tie) Michael Otero and Tuf Cooper, 7.0 seconds, $4,199 each; 3. Darnell Johnson, 7.5, $3,320; 4. (tie) Marty Yates, Hunter Herrin, Cade Swor, Catfish Brown and Tyler Milligan, 7.6, $1,562 each. Second round leaders: 1. Cody Quaney, 7.0 seconds; 2. Justin Smith, 7.1; 3. (tie) Scott Kormos and Tim Pharr, 7.3 each; 5. (tie) J.C. Malone and Lane Livingston, 7.4 each; 7. (tie) Blane Cox, Seth Cooke and Trinton Downing, 7.5 each. Average leaders: 1. Cody Quaney, 14.8 seconds on two runs; 2. Tuf Cooper, 15.0; 3. Clint Singleton, 15.8; 4. Cooper Martin, 16.1; 5. (tie) Cade Swor, Clint Robinson and Cimarron Boardman, 16.2 each; 8. Catfish Brown, 16.3; 9. (tie) Marcos Costa and Marty Yates, 16.4; 11. Adam Gray, 16.6; 12. Josh Peek, 17.0.
Barrel racing: Second round leaders: 1. Amberleigh Moore, 13.99 seconds; 2. Brooke Rix, 14.03; 3. Sammi Bessert, 14.15; 4. Kassie Mowry, 14.20; 5. Laura Kennedy, 14.24; 6. Lindsay Sears, 14.24; 7. Kellie Collier, 14.32; 8. (tie) Jennifer Arnold and Ari-Anna Flynn, 14.35 each; 10. Trula Churchill, 14.36. Average leaders: 1. Amberleigh Moore, 29.90; 2. Kassie Mowry, 30.15; 3. Sammi Bessert, 30.16; 4. Brooke Rix, 30.18; 5. Carmel Wright, 30.23; 6. Shelby Janssen, 30.36; 7. Kellie Collier, 30.37; 8. Ari-Anna Flynn, 30.37; 9. Morgan Breaux, 30.44; 10. Trula Churchill, 30.47; 11. Hailey Kinsel, 30.48; 12. Shelby McCauley, 30.53.
Bull riding leaders: 1. Trey Benton III, 88.5 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Red Rocket; 2. Brennon Eldred, 87.5; 3. (tie) Jordan Hansen and Mickey Andrews, 85 each; 5. (tie) Kyle Balls and Jordan Wacey Spears, 84 each; 7. Brock Radford, 83.5; 8. (tie) Tanner Learmont and John Pitts, 83 each.