LAS VEGAS – J.D. Struxness just finished a rough and rugged 10 days at the National Finals Rodeo, but his work isn’t done.
“There’s no time off,” said Struxness, originally from Milan, Minnesota, now living in Perrin, Texas, with his fiancé, Jayden, and their daughters, Everlee and Lilly. “There are some (Texas) Circuit rodeos I need to be entering in January. Without the two big horses I ride the rest of the year, I have to get my team ready to go.”
He’s already started on the 2023 ProRodeo season with the 2022 campaign just hours into his rearview mirror. That’s rodeo. He finished his fourth trip to the NFR with $73,579 in earnings over 10 December nights, with nearly $13,000 coming from a bonus for finishing seventh in the average race with a cumulative time of 41.9 seconds on nine runs.
He ended the campaign with $197,227 and finished seventh in the world standings. It’s all positive, but he had hoped for better. When he arrived, he was third on the money list and in contention to win a world championship. That all fell apart in the fifth go-round when he suffered a no-time.
“It wasn’t the 10 days we had planned, but we made it through and walked away with some money,” he said. “Now, I’ll head back home and start over.
“There was a door that opened before I ran my steer in the 10th round for me to sneak into the average some. That took a little pressure off to be sub 4.0 (seconds) on the steer I had, which was going to be hard to do. A little later on, another door opened and I moved up another spot in the average.”
The rodeo season is a roller-coaster ride for cowboys who make a living in a sport. For every win like in San Antonio, there were missed steers and broken barriers. The same can be said for the NFR, which dangles the carrot of a $10.4 million purse and go-round winners earning nearly $29,000.
“You can’t give up on it, because there are lots of times in bulldogging that things happen, and you can work your way back up,” Struxness said. “There are lots of years that guys can win a spot in the average even if they didn’t get a time on all 10 steers. You can’t quit and be totally stupid.
“We were planning and hoping for more and hoped to be in contention and battling for (the world championship), but I think we’re happy for $74,000 for the situation we’re in.”
It’s also a chance to prove himself again next season.
“It’s a big motivation, because we should have been in contention, but things didn’t go our way in the beginning,” he said. “There’s improvement to be made, so you’ve got to put your head down to the grindstone. The first thing is (to) get back (to the NFR); the second thing, don’t let those mistakes happen again.”
That’s Struxness’ work ethic coming out, something he learned growing up near the Lac Que Parle, a lake in southwestern Minnesota. It’s something that will likely carrying him back to Las Vegas next December.