LAS VEGAS – When J.D. Struxness didn’t get a time in Monday’s fifth round of the National Finals Rodeo, some saw it as a devastating situation.
Struxness saw it as a hiccup.
“I got an outstanding start, and that steer fell to the right like they do here when you do that,” he said. “I tried reaching out there, and I couldn’t get my hands on him. We just shrug that one off. There are still nine other rounds, and we knew we had five more chances. We came back (Tuesday) night, and we were able to place again.”
He did in a big way. He wrestled his steer to the ground in 3.9 seconds to finish in a tie for second place in the sixth round. That $18,192 pushed his NFR earnings to $80,513. He sits third in the world standings with $163,342 and trails the leader, reigning world champion Tyler Waguespack, by less than $14,000.
“After what happened (Monday), we just needed a good, honest steer like that to come back and get our confidence back,” said Struxness of Milan, Minnesota, now living in Alva, Oklahoma. “We came back, got a good start and did our job. We won second, and we will keep moving on during the week. Hopefully we keep pulling checks in the rounds.
“(Monday) was frustrating. There were some things I could have done different to make sure I caught that one. It happened, and there isn’t any looking back when there is $26,000 on the line the next night. You just have to shrug it off, come back and stay aggressive, and try to get all the money you can in the rounds.”
He has a great deal of help, whether it’s the family in the Nevada desert supporting him or leaning on his hazer, Stockton Graves, one of his traveling partners who was his former coach at Northwestern Oklahoma State University.
Struxness became the university’s first national champion in 2016, winning the aggregate title at the College National Finals Rodeo that June – the Rangers snagged two more titlists in 2010 when breakaway roper Taylor Munsell and steer wrestler Bridger Anderson found success in Casper, Wyoming.
As he has done all summer, he is riding Graves’ horse, Freeway, and trusts Graves to keep the steers aligned to make solid runs.
“We are going to be aggressive again,” Struxness said of the team’s approach to the final four nights of the 2019 ProRodeo campaign. “We’ll go out there, make good runs and use the animals they draw us the best we can.”