LAS VEGAS – Cole Franks has spent the last two ProRodeo seasons traveling with three-time world champion bareback rider Tim O’Connell and Jess Pope, who clinched his first gold buckle this season.
“I’ve just got to complete the trifecta and have all of us in the rig wearing gold buckles,” said Franks, 21, of Clarendon, Texas.
He concluded a fantastic sophomore season with a solid run through the 2022 National Finals Rodeo. He placed in eight of 10 rounds and finished second to Pope in the average race; that, alone, is worth $60,159. He earned just shy of $147,000 in 10 December nights in the Nevada desert.
“It was slow compared to what it was last year, but it was a lot more fun this year,” Franks said. “I drew a lot nicer horses. They were just on the weaker ends of the pens every time. I feel like I did what I could with what I had. Today I made a little bobble at the end that cost me a little bit, but I’m pretty happy with how it ended.
He rode Pickett Pro Rodeo’s New Scarlet for 88 points, which would have won half the rounds this year. During Sunday’s 10th round, Franks finished in a tie for fifth place and added $6,063. He finished the year with $263,378
“I’ve dreamed of getting on that horse for a long time,” he said. “I watched Tim get on him at San Angelo (Texas) this year. That horse is so much fun, so much fun. He just floats right underneath himself. That’s probably one of the funnest horses I’ve been on.
“That’s a lot of those Pickett horses. They are all really good to get on. That’s the first Pickett horse I’ve been on (at the NFR). I was pretty excited about it when I saw the draw last night.”
Finishing so high in the aggregate race is also a blessing that came with riding well for 10 nights. He finished the NFR with 852 cumulative points, just eight behind Pope, who has won the average title for three straight years. That is a standard that proves the consistency of the top guys during the championship event.
“It is awesome to be able to do that,” Franks said. “Last year I was third in the average, so moving up one spot in the average is awesome. I’m going to be plugging for next year. I’m going to have to bump Jess out of that, but that’s going to be work.”
Franks isn’t afraid to work, and it’s why he’s been among the top five in the world standings each of his first two years in the PRCA.