Posted by Dave Cooney: email
LAS VEGAS --- For the the past 27 years, Las Vegas has gone country for 10 days in December as the city plays host to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) where world championships are decided.
This year's rodeo is Dec. 6 – 15th and will feature 10 nights of the best contestants from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and Women's Professional Rodeo Association. Up for grabs is over $6 million in prize money. Hoping to get a big share of that are team ropers Derrick Begay from Seba Dalkai, Erich Rogers from Round Rock, Cesar de la Cruz from Tucson and Brock Hanson , from Casa Grande. Three-time world champion barrel racer Sherry Cervi, from Marana will be representing the barrel racers.
Begay and de la Cruz, who are roping together, enter the race for the world title in the ninth and eighth places repectively. This is Begay's fifth WNFR qualification and the seventh for de la Cruz. Rogers, will be competing at ProRodeo's championship event for the second time. He is twelfth in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) World Standings and will be roping with Kory Koontz from Sudan, Texas.
Hanson will be heading for Ryan Motes from Weatherford, Texas. This is his first qualification for the WNFR where he will enter the competition in 11th place. Hanson and Motes made history during the 2012 regular season when they tied the world record in team roping with a 3.3-second run in Nacodoches, Texas.
Cervi became the first Women's Professional Rodeo Association barrel racer to surpass $2 million in 2010 with her third world title. This is her 16th WNFR qualification where she will be riding horses that were born and raised in her native state. She enters this year's rodeo in fifth place.
To qualify for the WNFR contestants had to be among the top 15 in the world standings. They traveled across the United States paying their own entry fees and expenses with just a small percentage advancing to rodeo's championship event. The WNFR has seen continued growth in prize money and fan support since it moved to Las Vegas. Each contestant will compete in 10 individual rounds which will pay the winner $18,257. On Dec. 15th their total scores and times will be added together for average placings. First place in that category will win $46,820 and a saddle as the WNFR champion.
World championships are determined by adding a contestant's WNFR and regular season earnings together. Those champions have the esteemed honor of wearing the traditional gold buckle that signifies they are the world's best in the sport of rodeo.