Duvall in the groove in Vegas

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Riley Duvall slides with his steer during a 3.6-second run, which was good enough for third place in Friday’s second round of the National Finals Rodeo.

LAS VEGAS The pressure that Riley Duvall usually feels when he arrives at the National Finals Rodeo disappeared.

Heck, it may have been gone before he even arrived. His pressure-packed runs in Salinas, California, on the final weekend of the ProRodeo season in August gave him free reign when it came time to compete inside the Thomas & Mack Center.

It’s proving to be rather valuable. After sharing the opening-round win, Duvall stopped the clock in 3.6 seconds Friday night to finish third in the second round of the National Finals Rodeo, earning an additional $16,111. He’s pushed his NFR earnings to $50,278 and his season earnings to nearly $117,000. Oh, and he’s moved up from 13th to fourth in the world standings in just two days’ work.

“I usually don’t have this much until by the ninth round, so we’re a little bit ahead of schedule,” he said with a laugh. “It’s awesome.

“I (placed) third in the average my second NFR (in 2018), was second in the average in 2019, and I won a couple rounds my first year. Hopefully this year we can put both those factors together and get round and average money.”

He’s doing pretty well so far. Only Dirk Tavenner of Rigby, Idaho, has had a better finals in bulldogging; he and Duvall split the first round, then Tavenner posted the fastest run of Friday’s second round.

What’s the difference this year than Duvall’s previous three trips to the City of Lights?

I’m finally getting a good start,” he said. “The horses are working great, and I’m just going at it every night with almost a reckless abandonment. I’m just trying to run at the barrier, and if I break it, oh well.”

His trip to the Nevada desert almost wasn’t. He had to make a huge rally late in the season, taking advantage of the ProRodeo Tour Finale in Salinas to secure his place among the top 15 in the world standings in order to compete at the NFR. His focused approach of going all out has worked so far, and it’s paid off for others in the past.

“I’d like to have $100,000 and then some won before the 10th round starts, then who cares what happens,” Duvall said. “You want to win everything, but if you’ve got $100,000 won, obviously there’s a lot less pressure.”

It doesn’t hurt that the random draw has matched him up with steers.

“These first two pens of steers fit my style,” he said. “This is a fast set-up tis year. In years past, 4.4 (seconds) or 4.5 would place. I’m from Oklahoma, and we call it ‘rat slopping,’ and we like ‘rat slopping’ a little better.”

Any varmint will do, it seems.


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