LAS VEGAS – In the heat of competition, there are things that happen that can knock someone off his perch.
J.D. Struxness experienced that during Wednesday’s seventh round of the National Finals Rodeo. His steer didn’t take the fall as expected, so the Milan, Minnesota, cowboy tried to grab a leg and pull the animal over. The steer kicked free instead, and Struxness was saddled with a no-time.
“I should have slowed down a little bit more there, but I’ve never really been in that situation before,” said Struxness, a five-time NFR qualifier. “I just panicked and was trying to get him rolled over and jerked instead of making sure I had a hold of everything. I just grabbed his leg and jerked it, and it didn’t come out.
“That was my mistake on the week.”
He didn’t stew about it. In fact, he came back with a 3.7-second run to finish as the runner-up in Friday’s ninth round, earning $24,268. That increased his NFR earnings to $113,015. He is second in the world standings with $235,412 with one night remaining on the ProRodeo season.
“Other than that, the horses are working good,” Struxness said. “We got on the good end of the steers and were able to play, so hopefully we can stay in there and take home some more money.”
He was in the middle of a world-title hunt when he suffered the no-time, so it was a disappointing outcome. It took him out of collecting big money the average race, which pays contestants with the top eight aggregate scores. That bonus may have been the deciding factor in his first world championship.
He is ninth in the aggregate with an eight-run cumulative time of 52.5 seconds. Should he move up a spot, he would earn a $7,429 bonus when the NFR ends Saturday night. Despite the frustrations, he responded solidly but trails the world standings leader, Dalton Massey, but nearly $30,000.
“That’s a good rebound and hopefully we can get another good one (Saturday),” said Struxness, who has been riding Crush, a horse owned by fellow NFR bulldogger Ty Erickson, and utilizing veteran Matt Reeves as his hazer. “Crush is working great. Matt’s horse has been working great. The only bobble this week was my mistake.
Struxness, who won the first Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo national title in 2016, was one of four Rangers to place in steer wrestling Friday night. Cody Devers won the round, while Bridger Anderson finished third and Stephen Culling was sixth.
“It was a really good night for us,” Struxness said. “All of us made good runs. Devers did a heck of a job and came out with a round win on a steer that I thought was just a steer. It’s always a good night when you get four Rangers to place.”