The Coolest Guy in Vegas-Rnd 6-21 WNFR

Header Derrick Begay & heeler Brady Minor (Rnd 2). PRCA photo by Phill Kitts.


As Flint Rasmussen said on his TV show, “You may be cool, but you’re not Derrick Begay riding a buffalo cool.” The Roping Sensation from the Navajo Nation was a guest on Flint’s talk show ‘Outside the Barrel.’  

Everything about Derrick is ‘Cowboy.’ As he made his entrance, the sound guy played Eddy Arnold’s 1968 version of ‘Cattle Call’. Derrick promptly acknowledged it’s his favourite song (one of only 60 on his phone, which includes Native music “and old stuff you could sing along with, Flint”) and thanked the crew for playing it.

As the interview progressed, the photo on the back screen changed to an image of Derrick riding a buffalo with a bull rope as a bull rider would. At Flint’s request Derrick told the story of how that came to be. Funny story, it was a joke intended for someone else that backfired, but as Derrick said, “Now I can say I did it.” Flint then expounded on how Derrick is an inspiration and fan favourite of Native people regardless of the tribe. Well, here’s a news flash, Flint. There’s a wore-out, old Anglo-Saxon saddle tramp in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, that would stand in line for quite a while to get Derrick Begay’s autograph. He’s one of my heroes.

 Sad News

Wade Sundell winning Round 4, 21 WNFR. PRCA photo by Phill Kitts.

Wade Sundell is out of this year’s NFR. I reported last night that he’d been bucked off in the grand entry, and once everyone thought he was okay, they (including myself) had fun with it. I now regret it as it was announced the next day that Wade suffered a fractured vertebra in the wreck and thus ends his 2021 season. The 2018 World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider was fashioning a comeback after near-death injuries from getting mashed in the chute in 2019. At NFR 2021, he’d already won Round Four and was putting things back together again. I wish him a full and speedy recovery.


Mixed Emotions

’21 NFBRoping Champion, Sawyer Gilbert. PRCA photo by Joe Duty.

This afternoon I watched the NFBR (Breakaway Roping) and had mixed emotions. Miss Rodeo Canada Alicia Erickson sang her rendition of the American national anthem and received a round of applause for the fine job she did. Langdon, Alberta’s Shelby Boisjoli was the season leader but ended 2021 as the runner-up. It was a close race, and it boiled down to the final two calves of the entire NFBR to determine the champion.

Sawyer Gilbert of Buffalo, South Dakota, was the only lady to rope all ten calves, and that was the determining factor. In round eight, Shelby had an empty loop and, in the end, it cost her. There’s no doubt in my mind that Shelby will win a World title before she’s done — she’s too good not to. As for Sawyer, the still-teenager will be a great rep for the fastest growing sport on dirt. I doubt if there’s anything on a ranch that she can’t do. I noticed she had the letters Y Y on the end of her belt. I’m betting if you look in a South Dakota brand book, you’ll find that Y Y is the brand for the Gilbert Ranch.

Merritt, B.C. native Sarah Morrissey had a half-decent final and finished the year in 13th place. The quickest time for the entire deal was 1.7 seconds, recorded by another ranch-raised cowgirl, Joey Williams, from Volborg, Montana. She had that in Round four, then just to prove it wasn’t a fluke, she posted a 1.8 in Round 8. An afternoon well-spent.

Round 6 Results

In all four timed events the winner either set or tied the fast time of the week.

Orin Larsen winning Round 6 on Pickett’s 171 Night Gazer. PRCA photo by Phill Kitts.

Manitoba’s seven-time NFR qualifier Orin Larsen drew a good one and tapped out a 91-point tune on Night Gazer from the Pickett Pro Rodeo Company. Tanner Aus split sixth with 85 points on Calgary’s Y-5 You See Me. Orin has been competitive and finished in the crying hole three times. He’s now moved up to sixth in the lucrative average (10 head total) payoff. Orin took his wife Lexi and his parents, Kevin and Wanda onstage for the Go-Round Buckle presentation. 

Once again, steer wrestler Dirk Tavenner won the round. He’s on a heater and has now won two rounds and split another. I assume he knows the way to the buckle presentations. He booked a rapid 3.4-second run. Jesse Brown was 4.5, Curtis Cassidy clocked a 5.8 run, and Scott Guenthner jumped an extra-strong steer and endured a time consuming 13.5-second wrestling match.

In team roping, first-time qualifiers Coy Rahlmann and Douglas Rich stopped the clock in 3.6 seconds for the win (fastest time). Rhen Richard and Jeremy Buhler pulled a fourth-place cheque with 4.0 seconds. They’ve quietly roped their way to third place in the average and could be a factor in the title race.

Has anyone else noticed that since Cowboy Channel began covering the NFR, the between rounds interviews are purposely kept short and not running over the next event? Long live The Cowboy Channel!

Tanner Aus scored 85-pts on Calgary’s Y-5 You See Me. PRCA photo by Phill Kitts.

The ‘gifted’ Ryder Wright was 89.5 points to win the Saddle Bronc Riding. Kolby Wanchuk has realized he belongs there and marked 85.5 to share fifth and sixth with Layton Green. Wyatt Casper scored 85 on Outlaw Buckers’ 508 Lunatic Party, and Chase Brooks was 83 points on XW OLS Tubs Magic Carpet from the same herd. Two-time World Champ Zeke Thurston scored 82.5, Ben Andersen looked comfortable tonight and marked 81 points. I noticed 20-time NFR qualifier Rod Hay helping his son Dawson in the chute. The horse got pretty weak, and Dawson was 80 points.


Round 6 is Rookie Night, and the two of the celebrated newcomers are Canadian. During the intermission, K’s Thomson from Lundbreck, Alta was feted as the Top Rookie in the Saddle Bronc Riding. Stettler, Alta’s Beau Cooper, earned Top Rookie in TDR; he won more money than any other rookie in the Tie-Down Roping. PRCA photo by Rod Connor.

It was Rookie Night, and during the intermission K’s Thomson from Lundbreck, Alberta was feted as the Top Rookie in the Saddle Bronc Riding, as was Stettler, Alberta’s Beau Cooper, who won more money than any other rookie in the Tie-Down Roping. Congratulations, guys; we’re proud of you.

Cory Solomon won the Tie-Down with a blazing 7.1-second run. Fastest time of the week.

Ivy Saebens ran a 13.43 barrel pattern, which tied the fastest time of the week.

Rookie Bull Rider Creek Young scored a big 90.5 score on Macza’s 639 Ugly Wish. Willie Macza was onstage for the Buckle presentation.

Creek Young winning Rnd 6 on Ward Macza’s Ugly Wish. PRCA photo by Phill Kitts.