Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008 | 2 a.m.
IF YOU GO
Who: National Finals Rodeo
When: Today through Dec. 13
Where: Thomas & Mack Center
Tickets: 866-388-3267 or unlvtickets.com
TV: ESPN (Also ESPN 2, ESPN Classic)
Colin McTaggart isn’t intimidated by the bright lights of the National Finals Rodeo. Not after his long wait to get under them. When the California cowboy transferred to Las Vegas from community college to attend UNLV, heading to the Finals every December became an annual tradition.
Sitting in the stands year after year, McTaggart pictured himself riding bulls in front of the Thomas & Mack crowd.
“I would always go to the NFR with the rodeo team from UNLV,” McTaggart said. “It was hard to sit and watch those guys and just hope that one day you might get there. To think I’ve actually made it is a high point for me.”
This year’s 50th Anniversary is McTaggart’s second trip to the NFR. After a no-ride on the bull Migraine in the first round, the 23-year-old bull rider posted a 84-point score aboard Silent Image in the second round Friday. The score put him in third place for the round and moved him to seventh for the average.
It’s been a fulfilling last two years for McTaggart, who joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in 2004. After a rocky rookie year and a mediocre 31st-place finish in the World standings in 2006, McTaggart improved to 15th in the standings last year.
This year he’s been even better, entering the Finals in eighth place, earning $91,640 along the way.
“Those early years were tough, I kind of got down on myself,” he said. “I had such high expectations for myself and if you start to lose your confidence it gets hard to stay on top of your bulls. When I finally did start to see success last year I told myself that if things ever started to go bad again, just remember that eventually they will turn around every time.”
McTaggart is currently on a short break from UNLV as he waits for his Nevada residency to lower his tuition costs. He plans on returning to classes in 2009 to earn a degree in marketing.
In the meantime he’ll continue to focus on bull riding and enjoy finally being on the Thomas & Mack floor instead of its stands.
“The NFR is such a prestigious event, whether you’re from Vegas or anywhere else it’s great to perform in something like this,” he said. “It’s everybody’s dream and I’m going to be working at getting those gold buckles for the trophy case.”
Notes: Texas cowboy Trevor Brazille took a $7,031 step closer to the $3 million mark with a fourth-place finish in the tie-down roping Friday night. So far in his career, Brazile has earned $2,898,722. He would be the first $3 million cowboy in PRCA history.
He also appears to be a lock for another all-around world title, leading second-place Steven Dent by $113,628. The title will be his sixth in seven years and place him one away from all-around title record holder Ty Murray, who finished his career with seven.
The hottest start to the 50th Anniversary NFR belongs to team ropers Garrett Tonozzi and Kinney Harrell. After taking first place in the opening round with a 4.6-second time the duo performed even better Friday night with a first-place 3.9-second performance. They now hold a 1.3-second lead in the average after two rounds.
“It’s been a really fun year,” Harrell said. “Lots of guys came from down in the pack. Luckily we finished well right at the end and we’re just excited to be here and get this kind of start. We won’t think about the average until the eighth or tenth round. We’ll just go as fast as we can each night and let the chips fall where they may.”
And a quick happy 29th birthday to saddle-bronc rider J.J. Elshere. What better way to celebrate than earn a $2,704 check on a 79.5-point ride in the second round?
Bareback Riding: Bobby Mote; 89 points
Steer Wrestling: Gabe Ledoux; 3.5 seconds
Team Roping: Garrett Tonozzi, Kinney Harrell; 3.9 seconds
Saddle Bronc Riding: Dusty Hausauer; 88.5 points
Tie-down Roping: Tyson Durfey; 7.2 seconds
Barrel Racing: Cassie Mosely; 13.85 seconds
Bull Riding: Steve Woolsey; 87 points