LAS VEGAS – When Richmond Champion married Paige Lawrence earlier this year, he knew he was getting a champion’s mentality.
She is an Olympian who competed in pairs skating at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia. She was raised in a rodeo family but understands what it means to compete at an elite level. She offers the right kinds of advice to her new husband.
“She keeps everything in perspective for me,” said Richmond Champion, who rode Hi Lo ProRodeo’s Wilson Sanchez for 87.5 points Wednesday night to finish in a tie for fourth place in the seventh round of the National Finals Rodeo, worth $8,885. “Whether you’re winning money or not, this place will play tricks on you, and we just talk about it. There are just good things to get out and not be thinking about, because if you’re thinking about them before you get on, it’s going to get in your way.
“We have been working on staying clear and focused. By the time I leave to come here, I’m just excited for what’s going to happen.”
It’s worked. His ride on Wednesday pushed Champion’s NFR earnings to $65,000. He sits fifth in the world standings with $195,829 and sits on the verge of crossing the $200,000 barrier with three rounds remaining.
“This is Wilson Sanchez’s 10th trip out here,” he said. “The first time she was out, she was in our nicer pen. She seemed to have grown up a little, and Tilden (Hooper) didn’t think that was where she belonged. We moved her to a little bit tougher pen. I was really excited to have her.
“She is a full-grown woman now, that’s for sure. You feel her, but she rides good. She had a good day, so I couldn’t be happier.”
It’s been an amazing NFR for the bareback riders. There’s been just one night through the opening seven that a cowboy has not scored at least 90 points, and that was Tuesday. In Monday’s fifth round, four men were in the 90s.
“Everyone is riding really well,” Champion said. “Everyone is doing their job. It is fun to be part of, and it’s constantly pushing us.
“Paige shot me a text (Wednesday) night that said, ‘How do you feel? Honestly?’ I said, ‘I’m happy with everything I can control.’ All you’ve got to focus on is what (horse) you get every day. The chips are going to fall where they may, so just enjoy every night. Tomorrow is a new day.”