LAS VEGAS – Steer wrestler J.D. Struxness didn’t let a bad night ruin the rest of the week, and it very well could have.
He came into his fourth National Finals Rodeo in strong contention to win a world championship, but a steer escaped his grasp Sunday night. That no-time was costly, but he didn’t sulk about it and he didn’t let it bother him long. In rodeo, there will be down times, and the next opportunity is not far away.
In his case, it came during Tuesday’s sixth go-round, when he stopped the clock in 4.0 seconds to finish fifth and pocket $7,462. He pushed his Las Vegas earnings to just shy of $25,000.
“That should help for the final five nights,” said Struxness of Milan, Minnesota. “Going into tonight, I told myself it is a fresh five. The second half of the finals is here, and there are still five steers to go and a lot of money left to be won.”
Because of his trouble, Struxness has fallen a bit in the aggregate race for the bonus dollars that go to the top eight cowboys with the best cumulative score on 10 runs. He’s not letting it bother him any.
“There is still a lot of stuff that could happen average-wise,” he said. “As far as that part goes for me, we’ve got a fresh start tonight and placed, so hopefully it’s just a good start for the second five (nights).”
It’s been a bit of tough luck for the steer wrestlers since the NFR began last Thursday. Only seven of the 15 cowboys in the mix have qualified times on all six nights. That offers a different dimension to the world-championship race
“It has been a tough year in the bulldogging,” Struxness said. “I really don’t know what it is, whether the steers are running harder or what’s going on. It has been tough, and guys have been missing. Hopefully to my advantage, we get the momentum rolling and keep taking advantage of the situation. Maybe we can slip on in there in the end for an average check, too.”
He also made an adjustment. He began the NFR riding Curtis Cassidy’s horse, Tyson, but things weren’t working out well. He switched to Ringo Robinson’s palomino, Monroe, and now has Matt Reeves hazing. He plans to keep that team together for the final four nights of the 2022 season.
“I rode Tyson all year, and it was a great year and we won lots of money,” Struxness said. “He was working good here, but there kept being little things that happened, my mistakes or being on the wrong steers or whatever. It was time to change. We needed to change something, so we decided to change the horse and see if that will shake it up.”
It did, and now the dice are rolling in his direction.