State sends five cowboys to National Finals
Cheney bareback rider Ryan Gray is one of a handful of Washington cowboys in Las Vegas battling for big bucks.
The contingent at the National Finals Rodeo, which begins its 10-day run Thursday at the Thomas and Mack Center, includes bull rider Shane Proctor from Grand Coulee, tie-down roper Tyson Durfey from Colbert and Ellensburg team ropers Brady and Riley Minor.
Proctor leads the bull riding standings heading into his first NFR by more than $40,700 with season winnings of $171,758. He is looking to hold off three-time defending champion J.W. Harris of Mullin, Texas.
Durfey, a Missouri native who moved to Washington before he made the first of his five straight Finals, is in seventh place with $80,044, putting him $65,000 behind Tuf Cooper of Decatur, Texas.
Tie-down roping is one of three events that could produce a second-generation champion. Tuf Cooper is the son of Hall of Famer Roy Cooper, who has two other sons, Clint and Clif, in the field.
Bareback leader Kaycee Field is the son of five-time champion Lewis Field.
Both of the Minors go into the Finals in 15th place with $65,209.50 each. Arizona cowboys Derrick Begay and Cesar de la Cruz have $118,754 apiece to lead the standings for headers (Brady) and heelers (Riley).
The Finals are a little harder to find on television this year with Great American Country (GAC) taking over the broadcasts from ESPN.
GAC (Comcast 484, Direct 326, Dish 167) is doing all performances live, 7 p.m. on the West Coast except for Sunday, which is at 1, with two replays. Each show is scheduled for three hours.
Should you catch a broadcast, Proctor is wearing No. 9, Gray No. 21, Durfey No. 49 and the Minors are 88 and 89.
Much of the attention will be on Trevor Brazile, who already has 15 championship buckles and has all but clinched his ninth all-round title. The Decatur, Texas, cowboy, has already won the steer roping championship and he has qualified for the NFR in calf roping and team roping. Should he win another individual title, it would be the third time in five years he won three titles.