Montana team roper Dustin Bird. (Photo courtesy NFR)

LAS VEGAS – For the first time in 11 years, we actually have a race for the PRCA all-around championship.

Trevor Brazile had won the last 10. He’s not in Las Vegas. Dustin Bird holds about a $3,000 lead over steer wrestler Clayton Hass after Bird lost his rope last night, opening the door. Hass is projected to win the world right now based on NFR average rankings, but the margins are small enough that every run and ride will count in Round 10 tonight.

Shane Proctor still has a shot in the bull riding.

After opening the finals 7-for-7, he was tossed Friday night for the second straight round. Proctor trails Sage Kimsey by about $47,000, but he leads the average. That would pay almost $70,000, plus any money Proctor might win in Round 10.

Story continues below

Another terrific local story is Cowley, Wyoming’s JR Vezain, back at the NFR and winning money after a back injury scared that heck out of him and forced him to watch last year from the outside.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever been hurt honestly, with a real injury,” said Vezain after his Round 9 ride. “It humbled me man. When all you do is think, sleep, eat, drink, breath bareback riding, and you can’t physically crawl on a bucking horse for four, five months, it was a very humbling experience for me.”

And it shows in the arena. Vezain has now won money in a handful of the last nine rounds.

Helena steer wrestler Ty Erickson rolled into the NFR leading the world after a red hot season, but he’s had miserable fortune at the NFR. However, his traveling partner Tyler Waguespack is on the verge of winning it all and says he’d have been hard pressed to do it without Erickson’s support.

“We come in here on the same team and feed off one another,” said Waguespack. “All year, that’s what’s helped us be so successful.

“Of the 70 rodeos we went to this entire year, me, Ty Erickson and Clayton Hass – we didn’t place at only two of them. I mean that was pretty good odds. We’re always feeding off one another, and it kept pushing the whole crew to do well and that’s why we all came in top five in the world standings.”

The tenth and final round begins at 8:00 pm MDT.