LAS VEGAS – Sometimes the best heroics in sports come with second-half rallies.
Steer wrestler J.D. Struxness is having one of those experiences at the National Finals Rodeo. After collecting just one paycheck through the first five rounds, he placed for the third straight night with a 4.3-second run to finish in a tie for sixth place in Thursday’s eighth go-round.
While it wasn’t worth much – third place pays $4,664, so he gets a third of that for his efforts – it did boost his NFR earnings to nearly $50,000.
The biggest change came in the fifth round, when he dismounted Tyson, Curtis Cassidy’s Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year and opted for Ringo Robinson’s horse, Monroe. The move has paid great dividends, and it looks to continue through the final two nights of the 2020 ProRodeo season.
After settling with a no-time in Round 4, he and Monroe stopped the clock in 5.0 seconds. It didn’t make him any money, but it was a big step forward. Not only that, but it was the first time the two had been matched together and in the middle of the biggest competition of the year. It takes a little time for two partners to mesh.
Because the cowboys already riding Monroe were having success and were using veteran Matt Reeves as their hazer, Struxness sought out the eight-time NFR qualifier to help line out his steers on the yellow horse. In addition to competing inside the Thomas & Mack Center, Reeves has been one of the pre-eminent hazers in the game and has lined out hundreds of steers inside the storied home of the NFR.
The combination is working. Most of Struxness’ earnings have come in the last three go-rounds. He sits seventh in the world standings with just two nights left in Las Vegas.