LAS VEGAS – Something must be said for perseverance, especially at the Super Bowl of rodeo.
If J.D. Struxness didn’t have it before, he found it over the last 10 nights of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He rode three horses, wrestled 10 steers and handled all sorts of adversity over his time in Sin City, but he found a way to the pay window quite nicely.
Struxness, 23, of Appleton, Minn., closed out his NFR with a 4.2-second run Saturday night to finish third in the 10th round, pocketing another $15,654. He also finished fourth in the average race (worth $31,731) and left Las Vegas with $109,479. He wasn’t that far off his 2016 NFR earnings, where he won at least a share of four go-rounds.
“It was a pretty good week,” said Struxness, who finished the season with $185,921, good enough for seventh in the world standings. “We had minor mistakes happen and a couple weird things happen. Overall, with what went on, it was a good week, and we are coming out of here with good money.”
His good horse, Peso, became ill earlier this past week, so that put the talented sorrel gelding on the sidelines. He rode Todd Suhn’s horse, Max, for a few rounds, but was having trouble getting the start he needed to be fast enough to place.
Struxness then mounted Rusty, a sold horse that guided Nevadan Dakota Eldridge to his second NFR average championship in three years.
“The key was getting that start tonight and having a steer and placing on him again and place in the average,” he said. “That is what we wanted to do, just up our money in the standings. That’s what we came here to do tonight, and that’s what we were able to accomplish.
“I knew that horse works good here, and I knew we could get a start. Dakota let me on him, thankfully, and I got a start the last two rounds.”
In his inaugural two qualifications to the NFR, Struxness has earned $238,152. That’s a quarter of a million dollars in just 20 nights of work.
The Nevada desert might be the right climate for him.