ARLINGTON, Texas – A year ago, former Tarleton State University tie-down roper Haven Meged stunned the ProRodeo world.
As a rookie, Meged won the 2019 world championship and the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo average at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
The Miles City, Mont., cowboy is not giving up his titles without a fight.
Meged has placed in the last three rounds, highlighted by winning Round 6 in an NFR go-round record of 6.8 seconds at Globe Life Field, Dec. 8.
“It was an amazing experience,” said Meged, 22. “It was just awesome to be able to do it at the National Finals Rodeo.”
The Round 6 record was 6.9 seconds, shared by Matt Shiozawa (2014) and Marty Yates (2014 and 2017).
With the $26,231 victory, Meged climbed from eighth to fifth in the PRCA | RAM World Standings with $115,248.
“To my horse (Beyonce), if I didn’t have her, I wouldn’t have been able to make that run,” Meged said. “It’s a blessing to have her. … She’s one of the best horses I have and just makes your job easy every time you nod your head.”
After not placing in the first three rounds, Meged has placed in three consecutive rounds.
“We call it rodeo,” Wright said. “You just have to forget about that stuff and go on because it’s 10 rounds and it’s not over until the last guy nods his head. We’re just trying to keep going forward and keep money in our pockets.”
Meged is hoping to use Round 6 as a springboard for the remainder of the Finals.
“Honestly, it’s huge because I need to catch up a lot, so I’m just trying to go as fast as I can every night to try and move up in the average, get a bigger average check and try to keep placing in the rounds because it’s not over until it’s over,” he said.
Ryder Wright keeps winning in record fashion
Competing in the home of Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers, saddle bronc rider Ryder Wright is batting .500.
The Milford, Utah, cowboy has won three of the six rounds at the 2020 Wrangler NFR.
Wright won Round 6 with a go-round record 90.5-point ride on Hi Lo Pro Rodeo’s Billie. The previous record was 89.5 points shared by Cort Scheer (2018) and Zeke Thurston (2018).
Wright also won Rounds 2 and 4.
“It never gets old,” Wright said. “That was a really good horse. I’ve seen her a bunch. I’ve never had her. She jumped out of there and did her thing. I got by her.”
Wright is happy about how things have been rolling for him.
“I feel good with everything I’ve been drawing,” Wright said. “I feel like I’m riding really good. Hopefully, I can just keep it up.”
Boquet snares win on second re-ride
Bull rider Dustin Boquet had to work overtime to win Round 6, but he wasn’t complaining.
Boquet had an 88.5-point ride on Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Lonesome You, a second re-ride, to claim top honors.
The Louisiana native rode three bulls in 15 minutes before walking away with the win.
“The first one was Muley Madness, and I was pretty excited about that draw since I’d never been on him before and he’s been around for my whole career,” Boquet said. “So, going on to that he kind of tangled himself up in the chute, so they asked if I wanted a re-ride, and I said, ‘Dang right I want a re-ride.’
“So, I got on my second one and was really excited about him since I’d been on him too and he threw me off also a couple of years ago. I felt him stumble, so when I got off him, I ran over there and asked what the next re-ride was, hoping they had another one, and it was Lonesome You, and that’s a good bull. I knew what I was up against and I knew I could win first on that sucker, too, and it all worked out. I just kept my mind clear and never really had time to think about it. Oh, yeah, my adrenaline is surely pumping. I was worn out. I’m not the type of guy to work out, I just hunt and fish, that’s all I do – and ride bulls.”
Boquet’s other qualification for the Wrangler NFR came in 2018. He won Round 6 with a 91-point ride on Hi Lo Pro Rodeo’s Divinity.
“Heck, I wasn’t even worried about the whole score,” Boquet said. “I was just excited to stay on one because it’s been a heck of a first half of the NFR for me. I was expecting myself to do a lot better and had better hopes for myself, but I kept my faith strong and rode along with it and it worked out. I guess Round 6 is pretty lucky for me. … I couldn’t even hear the score until I looked up and everyone was whooping and hollering, and I was like, ‘Dadgum, I did it, we won a go-round.”
Boquet is optimistic he can keep his momentum going.
“Heck, I’m doing good now,” he said. “Shoot, hopefully we got all the old junk out of the way and figured out so that we could do it again. I got a go-round buckle, and hopefully we’ll keep this momentum going. We still have four more rounds to go and shoot, just hope for the best and stay out of my own dadgum way and just ride bulls like I know how.”
Rookie bareback rider captures first Finals go-round win
The stars aligned for bareback rider Cole Reiner.
The Kaycee, Wyo., cowboy won his first career Wrangler NFR go-round, claiming Round 6 with an 87-point ride on Flying U Rodeo’s Lil Red Hawk.
“They have been a lot of points on that horse a lot of times,” Reiner said. “I knew she was going to be a handful the first five to six seconds and I was just doing my best to stay back and keep spurring. When I got off and heard my score, I knew I had a really good chance to win the round. Then getting that victory lap, there’s no feeling like that, that I’ve ever had in rodeo, so it is pretty special.”
The win came on the night the PRCA | Resistol Rookie of the Year winners were honored, and Reiner was the bareback riding recipient. For good measure, Reiner’s 22nd birthday is Dec. 9.
“It’s rookie night, I got a go-round win and my birthday is at midnight,” Reiner said. “Watch out, Arlington.”
Reiner was thrilled to get to compete in Arlington.
“The PRCA, for them to pull this together – (PRCA CEO) George Taylor and everyone involved – I know we are all really appreciative,” Reiner said. “I can’t compare it to Las Vegas because I have never competed at the NFR there, but hopefully next year I get to go back and experience Vegas one time and have two first NFRs, that would be great to get two round wins in two different places.”
Snow and Nogueira snare first team roping go-round win
Team ropers Cody Snow and Junior Nogueira have had an up-and-down 2020 Wrangler NFR. They placed sixth in Round 1 (5.7 seconds) and third in Round 5 (4.0 seconds). However, they received no times in Rounds 3 and 4.
The duo was on the high side of things Tuesday, winning Round 6 with a 3.9-second run.
“We had a good steer, and my game plan going into it was to just make the best run we could on him,” Snow said. “We were early out in the round, so it’s hard to tell how fast the round is going to be, so we just tried to not make any mistakes, and it turned out to be fast enough.”
Nogueira, the 2017 PRCA All-Around World Champion, described the run from his viewpoint.
“We were like third out and we didn’t know how fast it would take to win the round,” said Nogueira, a native Brazilian. “We just had to sit out there and watch everyone go, and fortunately we did pretty good.”
Snow is optimistic he and Nogueira can build on the momentum from the victory.
“In the first round, we won a little bit of money, but we had some problems since then,” he said. “Yesterday, we placed third in a round and it got us in a groove, so we’re hoping to finish it out strong and see where we end up.”
“We have good horses and we knew if we had a decent steer, we would have a chance to place, so that’s what we’re looking for now,” Nogueira said. “Earlier in the week we had some problems and ended up missing one, and it’s just part of team roping. So now, we’re just putting our runs together and using our steers the best we can.”
Steer wrestlers Jorgensen, Edler split Round 6
Stetson Jorgensen and Jacob Edler have been measures of consistency at this year’s Finals in steer wrestling.
That trend continued in Round 6 as the two cowboys shared the win with 3.3-second runs. It was the first go-round win for both at Globe Life Field.
Jorgensen is first in the average with a 26.6-second time on six head, and Edler is second in the average with a 26.8-second time on six.
Jorgensen is second in the world standings with $117,600 and Edler fourth at $104,472.
“I knew I had a good steer, and I had a good start,” Jorgensen said. “… I’m pretty happy about it. I can’t explain it (the victory lap). It was awesome.”
Jorgensen was riding Mabel in Round 6.
“She’s great,” Jorgensen said. “I’ve been on her for two years, and we’ve had nothing but success. It’s been amazing.”
Edler also rode Mabel on his winning run.
“The horse that got me to the Finals, Ditto – she’s owned by Shane Fry – she’s an outstanding animal,” Edler said. “It just seemed every night she was just starting to spot off a cattle a little bit. I don’t know if she was getting sore or what the deal was. I’ve ridden Stetson’s horse in the past and had a lot of success on her. I knew I was going to get slicked right up the steer’s back every time. I was able to do my job and was fortunate Stetson allowed me to get on.”
Splitting the win was a euphoric feeling for Edler especially since this is his Wrangler NFR debut.
“I think that’s the farthest I’ve ever launched my cowboy hat,” Edler said. “I was pretty fired up, yeah. I’ve dreamed of this forever, dreamed what my first go-round win would feel like. Now that it’s finally come to reality, it’s way more awesome than my dreams could ever have thought.”
Considering how Edler’s NFR had been going, he knew a go-round win was bound to happen.
“I’ve been consistent,” Edler said. “I thought I’ve been bulldogging tough and finally drew the right dancing partner to be standing right here.”
Miller-Beisel nabs barrel racing win
Barrel racer Emily Miller-Beisel got her first win and first check of the 2020 Finals with a 17.01-second run in Round 6.
“Oh, it’s like a weight lifted off my shoulders,” she said. “Every round it kept adding and kept adding. I kept thinking, ‘When am I going to catch a break?’ Beau was close, he made some good runs. We were having a hard time adjusting to Arlington. To finally get the round win tonight (on Chongo), I knew I had a good draw, I was really confident, my horse warmed up good. I thought, ‘Alright, this is our chance.'”
Miller-Beisel took a moment to talk about her horsepower.
“I did have to change my game plan for him from the get-go,” she said. “The first night I brought him into the arena a little bit early. It doesn’t seem like that big a deal, but when the horse walks in and they see the light and the crowd clear up in the air, it scared him. So, the second night I thought I’d bring him in a little bit earlier and help get him settled, and it absolutely backfired.
“So, I warmed up at the tents at the stalls, I don’t even drive him over until the saddle bronc riding starts. We’re cutting it a little bit close on time, but it worked really well last night. We barely tipped a barrel, but I felt like we were on the right track keeping him quiet and settled. … You just have to adapt. Each horse is different. I learned a lot about him the first two rounds.”
Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan makes appearance
Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan was a special guest at the 2020 Wrangler NFR at Globe Life Field, Tuesday.
Ryan, who played 27 years in Major League Baseball – from 1966-1993 – with the New York Mets, California Angels, Houston Astros and Texas Rangers, struck out a major league-record 5,714 batters and has an MLB-best seven no-hitters, three more than any other pitcher in baseball history.
Ryan was introduced to the crowd before Round 6.
“I found it really interesting and I was wondering how it (the Wrangler NFR at Globe Life Field) was going to lay out, how it was going to look and how it was going to be for the fans,” Ryan said. “I think all those are plusses and I think the fans have really enjoyed it.”
Ryan also has been a longtime Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund board member.
“I have a great respect for the participants in rodeo and what they go through and the commitment that they make,” said Ryan, 73. “Also, the fact that injury is part of this business, and so when they asked me if I would have an interest on serving on that board, I said, ‘Yeah, I really would because anything we can do to help those folks when they are down, I want to be part of that.'”
Ryan also served as the Texas Rangers president and CEO from 2008-13 and was a Houston Astros special assistant from 2014-19.
Ryan said ProRodeo cowboys can hold their own against professional athletes.
“I see the commitment and the condition they are in and their athletic ability,” Ryan said. “I just think pound-for-pound they are as good athletes as any sport there is.”
Ryan said there was no one key to his longevity in MLB. He finished with a 324-292 record.
“I think I was blessed, and I think my work ethic,” Ryan said. “Also, the fact I stayed away from any major crippling-type injury made a big difference.”