LAS VEGAS – On his second run of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, J.D. Struxness let the steer escape his grasp.
That happens in rodeo, and the Appleton, Minn., cowboy understands that it is part of the game. So is moving on rapidly from the highs and lows that come with the sport. He rebounded Saturday night with a 3.9-second steer wrestling run to share the third-round victory.
“It’s a relief off my shoulders to win the round,” said Struxness, who won the college steer wrestling championship this past June and earned his first qualification to the NFR. “Everyone wants to get out here and get their first round win, and for me to do it in Round 3 is big. Now we just need to keep running at the rest of them.”
He finished in a tie for fifth place in the opening round and has now earned $38,981 in just three nights in Vegas. He remains fourth in the world standings with $123,415.
“My mindset coming in was to take a good start,” said Struxness, whose 3.9 was matched by Louisianan Tyler Waguespack. “I knew I had a good seer, so all I had to do was go out there and use him. It ended up working out in my favor.”
He wasn’t the only Minnesota to have things work out well on Saturday night; Tanner Aus of Granite Falls earned a share of the bareback riding round victory with an 88-point ride.
“I’m glad to hear J.D. won the round,” Aus said. “It’s amazing, and he works hard for it, too.”
Like everyone who has ever competed in rodeo, Struxness has had gold buckle dreams. Though his no-time in the second round could affect his ultimate earnings, he still has seven chances to pocket as much cash as possible.
“I’m not too worried about the world championship yet,” said Struxness, who is $25,773 behind Waguespack, the world standings leader. “I’m just taking it a round at a time and see how much money I can collect through the week.”
In rodeo, dollars equal points, and the contestants in each event who finish the NFR with the most money earned in 2016 will be crowned world champions. But with go-rounds paying $26,231, Struxness can jump into the lead in one swift move Sunday night.
“You just need to win whatever you can win, whether it’s first or sixth. You just need to make the best run you can make on your steer and see how it plays out in the end.”
That’s the kind of focus it takes to win championships.