LAS VEGAS – A night after the lights went out at the National Finals Rodeo, steer wrestler J.D. Struxness flipped a switch.
He placed in just one go-round over the first five nights, but he has gone back to the pay window in the opening two rounds of the second half of ProRodeo’s grand finale. On Wednesday night, he tossed his steer down in 3.9 seconds to finish third in the seventh round, which was worth $17,255. He more than doubled his previous go-round income inn one night.
“That felt way better,” said Struxness of Milan, Minnesota. “With the (horse) switch, we are getting settled in again. Stuff is starting to go our way. We are getting on the better half of the steers. That felt good tonight, so hopefully we can just keep rolling.”
With his NFR-qualification bonus of $10,000, he has pocketed $42,178 during his stay in Las Vegas. He has also pushed his season earnings to nearly $166,000 and sits seventh on the steer wrestling money list.
He made the horse switch a couple of rounds ago, and it’s paying off. He got on Ringo Robinson’s palomino, Monroe, and it’s paying dividends.
“I’ve never rode that horse before the fifth round out here,” he said. “I just needed to change something. I looked at videos of who was doing the best. That horse, with Matt (Reeves) hazing, was the best combo that I saw, so I got on.
“Riding a bunch of different horses throughout the years and just riding horses helps a ton. You learn to not to let it bother you.”
He hasn’t let a lot bother him this year in Las Vegas. He had hoped for a better start, but every contestant competing in Sin City has had high hopes. The ultimate goal is to win a world championship, and to do that, each cowboy must try to make the most of every situation. That’s where Struxness is now.
“When the first half didn’t go good, we took a day there and stepped back and just had to let it go,” Struxness said. “For the second half, me and my fiancé talked about it and talked about getting on a roll. Matt is hazing, and I have a lot of confidence in him. With this horse, I’m getting a lot of confidence in her now after riding her.
“We’ve got to get the ball rolling, and I finally went out there and made a nice run like we usually do, so now we will just keep it rolling.”