Three former Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo team members Stockton Graves, Nick Sartain and Jhett Johnson are competing in the 51st Annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas, Nev. The NFR runs December 3-12 at the Thomas and Mack Center on the campus of UNLV.
Graves, a 2002 NWOSU graduate, is competing for the sixth straight year in steer wrestling. The Newkirk cowboy is currently in 8th place in steer wrestling after four rounds. During round three, Graves finished second with a 3.5 and on Sunday (round 4) he was third with a time of 3.9.
Currently, Graves ranks 8th in the world standings with earnings of $84,198.31, through Sunday, Dec. 6. Since joining the PRCA in 1997, Graves has earned more than $786,704.
Sartain, from Yukon and a member of the Northwestern rodeo team from 2001-03, is participating in his third NFR in team roping (header). After four rounds, Sartain and his partner, Kollin VonAhn of Durant, are in third place on the leaderboard. In round four on Sunday, the duo placed first with a time of 3.7.
Sartain has accumulated $80,397 before entering the NFR. Through Sunday, he is ranked No. 5 in the world with $105,967.57. After joining the PRCA in 2000, Sartain has earned more than $389,462.
Johnson, who attended Northwestern Oklahoma State from 1989-91, is making his fifth appearance at the NFR in team roping (heeler). Johnson and header Steve Purcella, from Roswell, N.M., are in eighth place after four rounds. The duo finished second with a time of 4.5 during the opening round of competition.
Johnson is ranked as the No. 14 heeler in the world with earnings of $73,027.62. A member of the PRCA since 1992, Jhett has earned more than $629,030.00 on the professional rodeo circuit.
The NFR features the top 15 money earners in each event in a 10-day competition that ends Saturday, Dec. 12. Standings are determined by how much money each cowboy wins during the year in each event.
The NFR posts $5.75 million in total prize money for the 10 rounds. First place in each round in each event is worth $17,139 and prize money is paid for the first six places. The average or “aggregate” (the best total times or scores for the 10 rounds) will pay $43,954 for first place and lesser amounts through eighth place. Money earned during the NFR is added to that earned during the regular season to determine the year’s champion in each event.
Television broadcasts for the NFR are aired on ESPN2 and ESPN Classic. Rounds 7-9 will be aired on ESPN Classic. Rounds 5-9 are televised starting at 9 p.m. while the final round on Saturday will start at 10 p.m. Each round re-airs twice with the final round being re-aired three times. A complete television schedule for the NFR is available at http://www.prorodeo.com/NFR_page.aspx?xu=10.
Complete coverage of the event, including: biographies of competitors, results, standings, etc. can be found at http://www.prorodeo.com/. You can also find NFR coverage on ESPN at http://sports.espn.go.com/rodeo/index.