LAS VEGAS – Much like this city itself, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is filled with exciting expectations, huge victories and days of frustration.
In his four years at ProRodeo’s grand finale, Coleman Proctor has felt them all. Heading into the ninth night of this year’s championship, he and his heeler, Billie Jack Saebens, had found the pay window just one time, a tie for third place in Monday’s fifth round.
After three more nights of finishing out of the money, the two Oklahomans headed to Top Golf just two miles west of the Thomas & Mack Center. They let out a little bit of frustration and enjoyed a little team bonding.
“We kind of loosened up a little and hit some golf balls,” said Proctor, who, with Saebens, stopped the clock Friday in 3.9 seconds to finish third in a fast ninth go-round, worth $15,654. “Whenever they would replay that run we had (Thursday), we tried to hit it on the screen.”
He was joking, of course, because he understands what it means to be one of the top 15 teams competing at the biggest rodeo in the world. He and Saebens haven’t had the greatest luck, but they have earned $38,981 in nine nights.
More importantly, they have toped eight steers in a cumulative time of 56.8 seconds and sit fourth in all-important average race. Should they remain in that position at the NFR’s conclusion tomorrow night, they will add $31,731. If they move up one spot to third, the bonus would be $43,154.
“It has been a great week,” said Proctor, who scored his first sub-4-second run at the NFR in his four trips. “I think what’s different this year is that we’ve been here before, and we have felt comfortable all week. We were roping good; we were just catching a few bad breaks here and there. Now it’s sifting its way back. Maybe we will win some big money tomorrow night and go home.”
There is some unfinished business. On a night when gold buckles will be presented to the world champions, Proctor and Saebens will work to find their way to a top spot in the round. Every dollar counts – in life and in the world standings.
“We are trying our best,” he said. “Billie gives it his all, and I give it my all. That is just how it shakes out sometimes in team roping. We have a great friendship. It’s a business, but he is one of my better friends. I always want to be there to pick him up, and he is always there to pick me up. That’s what allows us to bounce back like we do.”
They need to do that again Saturday, but no matter what, he has plenty of memories to take back to Pryor, Okla., and pass along to his family.
“The National Finals is awesome,” Proctor said. “There is not another experience like this. I’ve been to all the best rodeos in the world, and this is obviously the greatest one you will ever go to. We are having fun and enjoying every minute of it.”