LAS VEGAS – J.D. Struxness may have stumbled a bit during the third round of the National Finals Rodeo, but it didn’t keep him down.
He rebounded with a 3.9-second run during Monday’s fourth go-round to finish second, earning $24,268. In all, he has earned $58,041 since arriving in Las Vegas. He is still very much in contention to win the world championship, and he’s not letting the circumstances that occurred Sunday bother him.
“That steer just didn’t leave as sharp as the videos they showed,” Struxness said of his broken barrier, which penalized him 10 seconds; instead of winning the round in 4.1, he finished out of the money with 14.1. “That can happen out here, but you can’t back off the barrier because you don’t want to get to the other end of the arena.”
Steers are given a head start, and the barrier system allows for that. By breaking the barrier, Struxness didn’t allow the steer the appropriate advantage. The penalty is sharp and pointed, but he is still in position to continue a hot streak he’s show. In his first four rounds, he’s placed three times.
“That was just a little glitch in the game plan, but we were able to come back (Monday) and take advantage of what we had,” said Struxness, a five-time NFR qualifier from Milan, Minnesota. “Hopefully we’ve got things kicked back in the right direction.”
It was a big round for the NFR alumni from Northwestern Oklahoma State University. Struxness, who became the school’s first intercollegiate rodeo national champion in 2016, was only bested by Bridger Anderson, who won the college title three years later.
“That was a good night for old Northwestern,” Struxness said. “Bridger did a heck of a good job. I didn’t know that steer was as electric as Bridger made him look.”
The Minnesota cowboy was wrapping his career when Anderson arrived on campus, so the two became close. They remain that way, with Struxness offering a bit of advice for the relative newcomer; Anderson is at the NFR for the second time.
“I don’t ever want to get in the way, because we’re both in the top 15 and know what we’re doing, but I will just give him a few friendly words of advice.
“The steer I had (Monday) was on the better half of the pen, so I was happy to have him,” he said. “I went out there, and I felt like we just did our job. I was able to pick up second, and we’ll just keep chipping away through the week.”
He has confidence in himself and in Crush, his bulldogging mount owned by fellow NFR competitor Ty Erickson.
“Crush worked really well,” Struxness said. “We broke the barrier (Sunday), but we’ve been fast for four straight.”
Now, he’ll have five more days to build on his run in Las Vegas.
“Having a good start the first half of the finals is awesome,” he said. “I did it the opposite way last year, and it felt like at the end you’re just scratching and clawing. This year, we are in a good spot, and we just keep climbing along, so we just need to keep doing our job and keep throwing steers down and let it all play out.”