Devers gets 1st NFR check with win

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Cody Devers transitions to his steer during a 3.5-second run to win Friday’s eighth round of the National Finals Rodeo.

LAS VEGAS Cody Devers dreamed of this moment from the time he was a young child.

After two National Finals Rodeo qualifications and 14 go-rounds in Las Vegas, the Perryton, Texas, took the victory lap inside the Thomas & Mack Center. He wrestled his steer to the ground in 3.5 seconds to win Friday’s ninth round, earning $30,706.

It was his first NFR paycheck, and it’s a moment he’ll likely never forget.

“Everybody has adversity, and it’s just how life is,” said Devers, who first qualified for the finale in 2021 but was hampered by a torn pectoral, then suffered through a bad run of things over the first eight performances this year. “You can either get knocked down and stay there, or you can get back up each night and keep swinging.

“I’d say they knocked us down for seven or eight rounds, but we started getting it figured out. We just keep pushing positive thoughts and prayers and kept working at it, and it’s finally come together.”

He began his second NFR rough, settling for two no-times in the first three rounds. He also failed to score in Round 7 and finished out of the money in the other five performances – he missed the pay window by one spot Thursday night. His biggest adjustment came when he switched horses prior to Monday’s fourth round.

“My mare started getting a little sore and wasn’t really working as well as I’d like, so I switched to Sam Dixon’s horse, Baby,” said Devers, who was the runner-up to the 2018 college champion while competing at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. “Each night she’s been feeling really good. We got the start the last two nights, and that’s made a world of difference.

“Marc Joiner has been on the other side riding my hazing horse, and he’s been doing a great job just like today. He got that steer to pick his head up, and Baby put my feet on the ground really fast so all I had to do was slow down and do my job.”

Making a run like that was valuable, and not just in the financial rewards. Winning an NFR round is tough; the top 15 guys in the world standings are ready to knock anyone off that perch. With the victory, he has upped his yearly earnings to $144,839 and gained a ton of confidence

“I could have done a little bit better on my job on a couple of those rounds, then I missed a start on another,” he said. “It’s not my first time here, but this is a fast start, and if you get amped up and if you miss it, it’s unforgiving.”

Having good horses helps, but making a run on a steer that fits is also beneficial. Devers liked what he saw in the animal that was selected to him by random draw.

“I knew that if we blew the barrier out,” he said of getting a good start, “and my hazer and Baby do their jobs, he was going to pick his head up. I knew I was going to have my feet on the ground where all I have to do is slow down and make a good run. When I was missing the barrier, I was trying to go too fast on the ground and make up that time.

“It’s really tough out here, and everybody’s been making good runs, so this time I could slow down and actually do my job.”

Devers is one of four former Northwestern steer wrestlers in the field, and all four placed during Friday’s round. J.D. Struxness was 3.7 to finish second, Bridger Anderson was 3.9 for third and Stephen Culling was 4.0 to place sixth.

“It’s been awesome,” Devers said. “We’ve been cheering for each other, helping each other out. It’s kind of having a big family up here.”


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