DODGE CITY, Kan. â€“ Jesse Wright has a little payback on his mind.
A year ago, the Milford, Utah, cowboy posted a 90-point saddle bronc ride during the championship round of the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo. Moments later, his older brother â€“ two-time world champion Cody Wright â€“ scored 91 points to win the round and the coveted Roundup title. Jesse was the runner-up.
On Thursday night at Roundup Arena, Jesse matched moves with Frontier Rodeoâ€™s Griz for 83 points for the highest-marked ride of the performance. Heâ€™s two points behind Cody and is a virtual lock to return the Sunday short go-round for just the second time in his career, where he knows there will be an opportunity to not only catch his older brother, but surpass him.
â€śIâ€™m gunning for him, thatâ€™s for dang sure,â€ť said Jesse Wright, who won the 2012 world championship. â€śItâ€™s awesome when you make the short round, because they hold out the buckers. When you make the short round, you know youâ€™ll get the good ones.â€ť
Griz is one of the good ones, and Wright suspects the athletic bay horse may be back in the mix come Sunday night. Only the top 12 contestants from the preliminary rounds qualify for the championship, and roughstock cowboys â€“ bareback riders, bronc riders and bull riders â€“ will be matched with 12 of the best horses in the game. Griz has bucked at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo several times.
â€śAbout three years ago, I won Corpus Christi, Texas, on him,â€ť Wright said. â€śHeâ€™s a really good horse, really nice. He takes a lot of rein and is real flashy.â€ť
After winning the gold buckle two seasons ago, Wright returned to the NFR for the fourth straight year this past December, where he earned a little more than $37,000 and finished well off the pace. This season, he sits 16th in the world standings and still needs to move up at least one spot in order to qualify for the NFR for a fifth time.
â€śItâ€™s tough,â€ť he said about repeating as the world champion. â€śYouâ€™ve got to keep a good, positive mindset. Staying healthy is the main key; when you can stay healthy for 365 days and ride at the top of your game and win a world championship, itâ€™s something. Youâ€™ve earned it.â€ť
Doing well in Dodge City will be a big boost to returning to the No. 1 spot at the conclusion of the season.
â€śItâ€™s important here, because Iâ€™m not sitting right where I want to be, and this is a big, good rodeo,â€ť he said, referring to the competition and the purse. â€śThisâ€™ll get me set up to go back to the finals and possible win another world championship. Iâ€™ll keep coming back here for dang sure.â€ť
Dodge City Roundup Rodeo
Dodge City, Kan.
July 30-Aug. 3
Bareback riding: 1. Casey Colletti, on Harry Vold Rodeoâ€™s Painted Coast, and Casey Breuer, on Voldâ€™s Hot Valley, 85 points; 3. Jared Smith, 83; 4. Orin Larsen, 81; 5. Tim Oâ€™Connell, 80; 6. Tilden Hooper, 78; 75. Winn Ratliff, 77; 8. (tie) Kyle Brennecke and Joel Schlegel, 76.
Steer wrestling: First round leaders:1. Bray Armes, 4.0 seconds; 2. Brandon Volker, 4.4; 3. Casey Martin, 4.5; 4. Tyler Waguespack, 5.1; 5. Shane Frey, 5.4; 6. (tie) Gary Gilbert and Tait Kvistad, 5.9 each. Second round leaders: 1. Ty Lang, 3.9 seconds; 2. Tooter Silver, 4.1; 3. Levi Rudd, 4.5; 4. (tie) Chance Howard and Tyler Waguespack, 4.8; 6. Bray Armes, 5.0; 7. Kait Kvistad, 5.2; 8. (tie) Ty Talsma and Logan Rudd, 5.3; 7. (tie) Brock White and Casey Martin, 5.6. Average leaders: 1. Bray Armes, 9.0 seconds on two runs; 2. Tyler Waguespack, 9.9; 3. Casey Martin, 10.1; 4. Tait Kvistad, 11.1; 5. Denver Berry,12.9; 6. Brock White, 13.1; 7. Orrin Michael Fontenot, 13.9; 8. Brandon Volker, 15.5.
Team roping: First round leaders:1. Nick Sartain/Rich Skelton, 5.1 seconds; 2. (tie) Andrew Ward/Reagan Ward and Landon McClaugherty/Caleb Twisselman, 5.6 each; 4. Coleman Proctor/Jake Long, 5.7; 5. Robert Pixley/Joe Mattern, 5.9; 6. (tie) Kyle Linaweaver/Mitch Murray and Tom Richards/Monty Joe Petska, 6.1 each. Second round leaders: 1. (tie) Keven Daniel/York Gill and Jake Pancost/Austin Rogers, 5.2 seconds; 3. Miles Baker/Dustin Searcy, 6.0; 4. (tie) Derrick Begay/Will Woodfin and Tavis Walters/Tyler Worley, 9.9; 6. Andrew Ward/Reagan Ward, 10.9; 7. Trey Harmon/Braden Harmon, 14.6; 8. Bull Austin/Corey Hendrick, 14.8. Average leaders: 1. Andrew Ward/Reagan Warad, 16.5 seconds on two runs. 2. Miles Baker/Dustin Searcy, 17.0; 3. Trey Harmon/Braden Harmon, 21.8; 4. (tie) Landon McClaugherty/Caleb Twisselman and Bull Austin/Corey Hendrick, 22.8; 6. Tavis Walters/Tyler Worley, 26.4; 7. Nick Sartain/Rich Skelton, 5.1 seconds on one run; 8. (tie) Keven Daniel/York Gill and Jake Pancost/Austin Rogers, 5.2.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Cody Wright, 85 points on Harry Vold Rodeoâ€™s Kateâ€™s Hot Sister; 2. Jesse Wright, 83; 3. (tie) Taos Muncy and Isaac Diaz, 82; 5. (tie) Troy Crowser and Ty Thompson, 81; 6. (tie) Brady Nicholes and Sam Spreadborough, 78.
Tie-down roping: First round leaders:1. Jerome Schneeberger, 11.8 seconds; 2. Cody Ohl, 12.0; 3. Thomas Merritt, 13.5; 4. Fred Whitfield, 13.8; 5. Perry Dietz, 14.1; 6. Adam Gray, 15.7. Second round leaders: 1. Marcos Costa, 10.2 seconds; 2. Cody Ohl, 11.0; 3. Adam Gray, 12.0; 4. Sean Oâ€™Neil, 13.8; 5. Blake Barber, 15.7; 7. Clete Scheer, 17.9; 8. Fred Whitfield, 21.6. Average leaders: 1. Cody Ohl, 23.0 seconds on two runs; 2. Adam Gray, 27.7; 3. Sean Oâ€™Neil, 30.4; 4. Thomas Merritt, 31.1; 5. Marcos Costa, 33.5; 6. Fred Whitfield, 35.4; 7. Jerome Schneeberger, 11.8 seconds on one run; 8. Perry Dietz, 14.1.
Barrel racing: First round leaders: 1. Shada Brazile, 17.87 seconds; 2. Jessi Fish, 17.96; 3. Sarah Rose McDonald, 18.19; 4. Jane Melby, 18.37; 5. Jaime Barrow, 18.42; 6. Korrina Lynn Hughes, 18.51. Second round leaders: 1. Jane Melby, 18.43 seconds; 2. Jessi Fish, 18.52; 3. Shelbie Parrish, 18.56; 4. Sara Rose McDonald, 18.61; 5. (tie) Katie Loughran and Alissa Burson, 18.71; 7. Peyton Mentzer, 18.83; 8. (tie) Callie Gray and Kris Hanson, 18.92; 10. Angie Thompson, 19.07. Average leaders: 1. Jessi Fish, 36.48 seconds on two runs; 2. (tie) Sarah Rose McDonald and Jane Melby, 36.80; 4. Katie Loughran, 37.38; 5. Korrina Lynn Hughes, 37.72; 6. Shelbie Parrish, 37.75; 7. Alissa Burson, 38.03; 8. Sandi Brandli, 38.14; 9. Angie Thompson, 38.33; 10. Peyton Mentzer, 38.50.
Bull riding: 1. Tyler Smith, 84 points on Frontier Rodeoâ€™s Elise Said What; 2. J.W. Harris, 83; 3. (tie) Dillon Tyler and Dustin Bowen, 75; 5. Tag Elliott, 74; 6. Elijah Mora, 64; 7. Casey Huckabee, 53; no other qualified rides.