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2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo closes out with big wins for Wyo contestants

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Las Vegas, Nev. – For 10 days, the top 15 cowboys and cowgirls from around the country came to compete at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR), which came to a close on Dec. 16. Contestants competed for world titles in seven events and $10 million in cash and prizes during NFR.

Wyomingites competed hard during the event, seeing several top-five finishes.

Ryder Wright, saddle bronc champion, edged Brody Cress of Hillsdale out of the win.

Cress finished second in the world and was the 2017 saddle bronc average champion with a score of 841.5 on 10 horses. Cress earned $282,286 this rodeo season. 

Also from Wyoming, coming in fourth in the bareback event, Cowley native JR Vezain, earned $220,830 this season. Vezain was third in the bareback average with 842.4 on 10 horses at the 2017 NFR.

In other events at the 2017 NFR, the All-Around Champion buckle was awarded to Tuf Cooper, tie-down roper, who earned around $341,560 this rodeo season.

For the second year running, Tim O’Connell won the bareback championship.

Tyler Pearson was crowned the 2017 steer wrestling champion.

In the team roping event, header Erich Rodgers and heeler Cory Petska won the team roping championship by almost $10,000.

Marcos Costa won the tie-down roping championship and also earned the 2017 RAM Top Gun Award for winning the most money in any single event at NFR.

The 2017 NFR barrel racing championship went to Nellie Miller, who earned a whopping $308,498 this rodeo season.

Last, the bull riding champion was Sage Kimzey, who beat the competition by over $100,000. This was the fourth year in a row Kimzey has won the bull riding event at NFR.

For the eighth year in a row, Dusty Tuckness of Meeteetse won the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Bullfighter of the Year Award.

Tuckness told the Cody Enterprise, “In any year, it’s anybody’s ballgame. It’s a privilege to be in the last group of nominees.”

For complete results from NFR, visit Heather Loraas is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at


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