LAS VEGAS – J.D. Struxness took a deep breath, then exhaled.
That sigh was of relief after posting a 3.6-second run Sunday night and winning the fourth go-round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. It was the first of this year’s championship for the Appleton, Minn., cowboy.
While that doesn’t sound like much, Struxness won at least a share of the title in four go-rounds and left Las Vegas with nearly $129,000. So far this year, he has placed twice and pocketed $43,762. He pushed his yearly salary to $120,203 and sits No. 7 in the world standings.
“There is always pressure because everybody wants to win a round,” he said. “We were able to break the ice and win the round, so hopefully it’ll keep rolling and I’ll have a good rest of the week.”
Sometimes all it takes is one good run to kick-start things for athletes. It’s worked for the Minnesota cowboy before. He share the Round 3 win a year ago, then followed that with wins in Rounds 4, 5 and 10.
He also happened to be matched with the steer that Tyler Waguespack had during his round win on opening night.
“It was a good steer, but that team of horses that we have is working outstanding this week,” Struxness said of his horse, Peso, and the hazing horse ridden and owned by Jacob Schofner. “I think they will just keep doing what they are doing, and we should be able to do good the rest of the week.”
He has good reason to be excited about the mounts that are making him money. After failing to cash in during Rounds 2 and 3, Struxness stuck to a simple game plan – keep doing what he’s been doing.
“Out here, anything can change in one round, so you just have to keep coming, taking those starts every night and throwing the steers down,” he said. “You hope you draw the right steers, and we did tonight”