Murray races to first NFR victory, Koontz heels a winner

Tillar Murray won Round 7 and made the money in five rounds while also earning a fourth-place payment in the average in her first National Finals Rodeo. || Courtesy DUDLEY BARKER/

Courtesy PRCA 
From NFR Round 7 News & Notes

LAS VEGAS (December 14, 2017) — WNFR newcomer Tillar Murray rode out last in the barrel racing on Wednesday.

She finished first.

Murray finished in 13.40 seconds, the second fastest time for any Round 7.

Murray is in her first trip to the Finals. Through her first six rounds she had placed twice. Then came the win.

“I can’t believe that I won a go-round,” she said. “I am just so happy to be here. I’ve wanted to be at the NFR ever since I was a little kid. Just being here is cool. I really had no expectation of winning a round. There is just no way to describe it. It is the coolest feeling.”

Her horse, Commander, is adjusting to the arena.

“I am so excited,” she said. “I was nervous being last out on the ground, but Commander really handled it well. I couldn’t have asked him to work any better. He exceeded all expectations and I am so proud of him.”

Tiany Schuster has $285,339 in season earnings to continue to lead the way toward the barrel racing world championship.


Dustin Egusquiza might be in the middle of his first trip to the WNFR, but he’s not roping like it.

Egusquiza, a team roping header, paired with Kory Koontz to win their second go-round in the Finals, clocking a time of 3.5 seconds, the fastest time of the 2017 Finals.

“It makes me feel good to be able to get him going in his career and to be the first guy to rope with him at the NFR,” said Koontz, in his 21st trip to the WNFR. “When I get old and I’m in my rocking chair, I can sit back and watch him do great things. I get a really good feeling in seeing guys that I was able to help move forward in their career and get them going.”

Egusquiza was ecstatic with his first win. Wednesday’s win felt just as good.

“I don’t think there could have been a greater feeling than winning the first round, but 3.5 (seconds) in the seventh go-round heading for Kory Koontz, it’s pretty crazy,” said Egusquiza, 22.

The time also tied for the second fastest in Round 7 history. Egusquiza’s confidence continues to grow.

“Man, I know that I can turn him wherever,” Egusquiza said. “When the gate opens, I can turn him and he (Koontz) is always going to be ready. I’m not ever going to catch him off guard.”

Egusquiza and Koontz have pocketed $70,712 each.

Team ropers Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira have moved back into first place in the world standings in their respective events, where they started when the Finals opened. Driggers has $196,086, while Nogueira has $196,816.’

Kory Koontz of Stephenville was part of the Round 7 team roping victory Wednesday at the National Finals Rodeo. || Courtesy DUDLEY BARKER/

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