KISSIMMEE, Flo. – Shepherd barrel racer Shelly Anzick won the first round of the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo Friday night in Kissimmee, Florida, clocking in with a 15.45-second run on her horse Scooter.
Anzick, who won the year-end title on the 2017 Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit, is competing in her fourth national circuit finals. The rodeo is for year-end and finals champion winners from each of the PRCA’s 12 circuits across the country.
Each qualifier is guaranteed two rounds, with the top eight advancing to the knockout semifinal rounds. The top four advance to Sunday’s championship short-go.
Cody Tew and Matt Robertson also made Montana proud in Friday’s opener. The team roping partners made their trip to the NCFR count in a big way, winning the opening round in 5.7 seconds. They took home $6,254 each Friday night.
“It’s so nice (to start like this),” said Tew, team roping header. “I qualified last year, and I missed both of them (steers). I was never able to get off to a good start. So, this feels like a huge weight off my shoulders that I made a good run the first time. Tomorrow, I’m hoping to come back and do it again.”
While Tew, 30, has never made the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, team roping heeler Robertson qualified once in 2001, or as he put it, “a really, really long time ago.”
“I’ve always gone to deals like this to set myself up to get lucky to get in,” Robertson said. “This year, the rodeo counts for the Finals. If we can do really well here, it would encourage me to keep going and try to make it.”
Robertson, who owns a business in addition to rodeoing, is planning on getting married this year. His focus, like his partner’s, is on making the rounds in the Montana Circuit.
“This is one of the most fun rodeos for guys like me,” said Robertson, 36. “I don’t rodeo real hard. This is about the biggest rodeo I get to go to. I don’t have any sponsors. I’m just out here having fun and roping with one of my best friends.”
Tew caught their calf so quickly, Robertson knew he better not miss.
“His head rope went on, and it just went, ‘Pow!'” Robertson said. “It was so loud when it went off. I was like, ‘I’ve got to get this son of a gun.’ I just turned and threw, and he pulled him into my loop.”
Irwin victorious in steer wrestling
Kyle Irwin has been to the NFR three times. But he has a special place in his heart for the NCFR.
Irwin won the first round of the steer wrestling in 3.6 seconds Friday night, taking home $6,254.
“The first year I made the Finals, I won the National Circuit Finals in Guthrie (Okla.),” said Irwin, who first reached the NFR in 2014. “It boosted me – in confidence, money, everything – to go on that year and make the Finals. They didn’t count for the world standings that year, but this is a good deal. I believe in the circuit system, I like the circuit system. Now, since this counts for the Finals, it makes guys get out and go to their circuit finals to try and get here.”
Irwin was riding his trusty horse, Scooter – the 2017 PRCA/AQHA Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year. He also mounted the horse out to three other steer wrestlers.
“This rodeo has so much opportunity to win so much good money,” Irwin said. “It’s fun. I like the excitement, the energy in this building. And Scooter handles it. He does his job. He gives you a chance. And that’s most important.”
Kimzey wins round, crosses $100K threshold for ’18
It’s the first week of April and four-time Bull Riding World Champion Sage Kimzey has already won more than $100,000 in the 2018 season.
Kimzey rode Lancaster & Jones Pro Rodeo’s Black Hammer for 89 points to win the round at the NCFR. The victory netted him $6,444, giving him more than $100,000 on the 2018 ProRodeo season.
“A good start just sets everything up,” said Kimzey, who was bucked off Black Hammer in Guymon, Okla., last year. “It’s hard to have a great season or a great year or a great event without a good start.”
Kimzey could have been talking about the start to his 2018 season.
“I used to set my goal to be at a hundred-thousand dollars by the end of Cheyenne,” said Kimzey, who had never hit the mark so early in a season. “The real crazy part is that I had to sit out all of January (with an injury). Who knows what I could be at if I didn’t sit out January.”
Other first-round winners at the $758,112 rodeo were bareback rider Clayton Biglow (86.5 points on Rafter G Rodeo’s Holy Grail); tie-down roper Seth Hall (8.2 seconds); and saddle bronc rider Wade Sundell (87.5 points on Harry Vold Rodeo’s Moon Valley).