LAS VEGAS – J.D. Struxness arrived in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago with a world championship on his mind.
He’ll have to settle for making big money in Sin City and a No. 4 finish in the world standings. That’s not too shabby for a first-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier in just his second year competing in ProRodeo. His 10 days in the Nevada desert was highlighted by victories in Rounds 3, 4, 5 and 10.
“To be able to come into my first NFR and win four go-rounds is great,” said Struxness, 22, of Appleton, Minn. “We had to work out the mistakes at my rookie NFR. We could have had a better week. If we could have got in the average, maybe we could have given it a run at the world title.”
Instead, Louisiana cowboy Tyler Waguespack claimed the gold buckle, but Struxness finished with the fastest time in the 10th round, a 3.6-second run worth another $26,231. In all, the Minnesota man walked away from Las Vegas with $128,673. He finished the season with $213,108.
“You can’t make that kind of money anywhere else,” Struxness said. “That’s a pretty good daily wage coming out here to Vegas.”
Struxness attended Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Mo., then transferred to Northwestern Oklahoma State University, where he is a senior. He is the reigning college champion, but his lessons continued into the Nevada desert.
“The things I learned the most is not making the simple mistakes I made in Rounds 2 and 6,” he said. “Don’t relax in this building. I feel like in those two rounds I might have just relaxed a little bit and made those two mistakes. They were costly at the end of the week, but we were able to still make a good week out of it.”
It was a great way to close out his season.
“I knew I had a good steer that they placed on, so I was just trying to get aggressive and make a good run,” Struxness said. “I just wanted to make a good run and get in the money. Being able to come out on top was even better.”