KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Saturday afternoon’s performance of the American Royal PRCA Rodeo was Chad Ferley’s last shot at making the 2015 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
“I had to come here and do good to have a legit shot to stay in the top 15,” said Ferley, a two-time world champion from Oelrichs, S.D.
The pressure didn’t seem to bother the veteran saddle bronc rider. He matched moves with Dakota Rodeo’s Groovy for 85 points to take the lead at the American Royal. He is virtually guaranteed a solid payday in Kansas City, but he will have to wait out Saturday’s evening performance to know for sure where he will finish the rodeo.
“It worked out, and it’ll be up to the other guys this weekend; this is my last rodeo this year,” he said.
Ferley entered the week No. 15 in the world standings with $58,490. Only the top 15 in the world standings advance to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the year-end championship that takes place in December in Las Vegas.
Heading into Saturday night’s final performance, though, Ferley had already dropped to 16th, when Tyrel Larsen of Ingles, Manatoba, earned enough money in Omaha, Neb., on Thursday to move past Ferley by $700.
The saddle bronc riding champion at the American Royal can win up to $2,300, depending on the final breakdown on the purse. While Ferley is done for the 2015 regular season, Larsen is scheduled to compete in Omaha (for the second time this week) on Saturday night and in Apache, Okla., on Sunday. There still are others in the mix to make a move, including 2012 world champion Jesse Wright of Milford, Utah.
With the biggest pay in the game in Las Vegas in a couple of months, it’s important to full-time cowboys to earn a spot in the top 15. What would that mean to Ferley?
“It kind of sucks to finish right there out of it,” he said. “Honestly it would be my own fault. I didn’t go to very many rodeos this year. I rodeoed pretty easy and just had fun.”
There were a lot of reasons for the 35-year-old cowboy to stay back in South Dakota much of this year. He and his wife, Jessica, have two daughters, ages 4 and 10 months.
“I rodeoed a little harder this fall because I was in a position where I needed to,” he said. “I stayed home more and spent a little more time with my family.”
Ferley and his wife have been married since 2007 but waited to have children because of the life he lives on the rodeo trail.
“I went out and rodeoed hard for quite a few years and waited to have kids,” Ferley said. “I wanted to try to be home more when I had kids. Now I’m slowing down just a little bit because of that.”
Still, riding broncs as one of the best cowboys in the game is how he puts food on the table and how he pays his electricity bill. He needs to be on the road to make sure those things are accomplished. There’s no place to do it better than at the NFR.
“That’s the kicker in the deal,” he said, noting that the payout in Vegas is at an all-time high starting this December. “It pays so much better now, not that it didn’t pay great before. It’s twice as good now. You can make up that money pretty fast in one round.
“You can go in 15th in the world standings and have a really good shot at winning the world title now. You can win almost twice as much money at the finals as you can rodeoing all year.”
That’s why he’s in a solid position to return to Vegas for the ninth time in his championship career. That’s why he made his trip to Kansas City on Saturday count.
American Royal Rodeo
Kansas City, Mo.
Bareback riding: 1. (tie) Kyle Brennecke, on Frontier Rodeo’s Miss Garrett, and Devan Reilly, on Frontier Rodeo’s Lizzard Medicine, 81 points; 3. George Gillespie, 80; 4. Clint Cannon, 79; 5. (tie) Ethan Assman and Will Lowe, 78; 7. (tie) Luke Creasy and Mason Clements, 76.
Steer wrestling leaders: 1. Clayton Hass, 3.2 seconds; 2. (tie) Ryan Bothum, and J.D. Struxness, 4.0 each; 4. Casey Martin, 4.1; 5. Ryan Swayze, 4.2; 6. Dakota Eldridge, 4.3; 7. (tie) Jule Hazen, Josh Clark and Jacob Edler, 4.5.
Team roping leaders: 1. Riley Minor/Brady Minor, 3.6 seconds; 2. Luke Brown/Kollin VohAnh, 4.1; 3. Aaron Tsinigine/Ryan Motes, 4.2; 4. Nick Sartain/Rich Skelton, 4.5; 5. (tie) Jeremy Hemmann/Jeff Brown, and Ryan Von Ahn/J.W. Beck, 4.6 each; 7. (tie) Erich Rogers/Cory Petska, Matt Sherwood/Quinn Kesler, Clay Smith/Paul Eaves and Jake Barnes/Junior Nogueira, 5.1.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Chad Ferley, 85 points on Dakota Rodeo’s Groovy; 2. Bradley Harter, 84; 3. Taos Muncy, 82; 4. Dalton Davis, 81; 5. Chuck Schmidt, 79; 6. Doug Aldridge, 78; 7. Tyrel Larsen, 75; 8. Evan Hecht, 73.
Tie-down roping leaders: 1. Timber Moore, 7.9 seconds; 2. Caleb Smidt, 8.0; 3. Dillon Holder, 8.3; 4. Ryan Jarrett, 8.4; 5. Tuf Cooper, 8.5; 6. Monty Lewis, 9.0; 7. Kadin Boardman, 9.3; 8. Cade Swor, 9.6.
Barrel racing leaders: 1. Kimmie Wall, 14.30 seconds; 2. Vickie Carter, 14.34; 3. Deb Guelly, 14.48; 4. Carmel Wright, 14.53; 5. Jeanne Anderson, 14.55; 6. Layna Kight, 14.56; 7. Laura Kennedy, 14.63; 8. Calyssa Thomas, 14.66; 9. Marne Loosenort, 14.67; 10. (tie) Trula Churchill and Sherry Cervi, 14.68.
Bull riding: 1. Corey Atwell, 88 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Big Money; 2. Dallee Mason, 85; 3. Trevor Reiste, 81; 4. John Young, 79; 5. Kody DeShon, 76; no other qualified rides.