Struxness cashes in big at NFR

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LAS VEGAS The dreams J.D. Struxness had of winning a world championship didn’t fade just because another man walked away with the gold buckle.

They’re still vivid, still in his mind and still on the table for the upcoming seasons. Louisiana cowboy Tyler Waguespack may have walked away from the National Finals Rodeo with the title, but Struxness placed in six rounds and collected $117,307 during his week and a half in Las Vegas.

His last payday came in Saturday’s 10th round, the final night of the 2023 campaign. He knocked his steer down in 4.2 seconds to finish in a three-way tie for fifth place, worth $4,292. He ended the year ranked fifth in the world standings with $239,704 in earnings.

“It’s bittersweet because we wanted to do something more, but to be able to catch a check in the 10th round is always great,” said Struxness, a five-time NFR qualifier from Milan, Minnesota. “It wasn’t quite the check we wanted to get on that steer, but it’s what we got.”

Earlier in the week, fellow Northwestern Oklahoma State University alumnus had the same steer and was 3.5 seconds to win the fourth round, so Struxness was hoping for a similar run. It didn’t work out that way.

“That still ran a little bit harder than we anticipated, but we were still able to get him thrown down,” he said. “Any time you can add the money, it’s a good thing.”

That’s true. The NFR features only the top 15 bulldoggers in the world standings at the end of the regular season. The men in the field can do some big things. Beating most of them is an accomplishment.

Unlike his previous run with Anderson, the steer left the chute on Night 10 like it was shot out of a cannon. Struxness utilized his horse, Crush, to catch up in a hurry and still posted a fast run. He was just four-tenths of a second from winning the round, which is just a blink of the eye.

“They’re just animals and can do anything at any time, but we did everything we planned to do on him; he just took off a little harder,” he said. “You can’t control that.”

Crush is owned by fellow NFR steer wrestler Ty Erickson, and Struxness had help from veteran bulldogger Matt Reeves, who was riding his hazing horse, Kirk. Both animals were instrumental in any successes the Minnesota man had.

“They worked awesome, and I was very pleased with our decision to use those horses,” said Struxness, the 2019 college champions while at Northwestern. “Matt did a great job, and that horse worked great on that side all week, too. It was a fairly good week. The better result was what we wanted, but we didn’t accomplish all our goals along the way. We can’t complain too much about it.

“You always go out there to make money, and the goal is always to win over $100,000. One of the goals was to be in the top five, and another is to win a gold buckle and win the average title. We were able to accomplish two of the goals we had.”

He also has a little momentum on which to build for next season, and he’ll take that with him.  


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