It’s another night in the bright lights of Las Vegas for the best cowboys and cowgirls in the nation during the 2022 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR)! On night four of the Super Bowl of rodeo, the human and animal athletes in the dirt all showed they’re in it to win it.
Bareback rider R. C. Landingam marked an 89-point score on Sankey ProRodeo & Phenom Genetics’ Southlands Shoutin’ Shoes to win round four, marking his first go-round victory.
“I’m very excited to get my first round here (at the Thomas & Mack),” Landingam says. “Moving forward, I need to mark my horse out. It is as simple as that. This is nothing to get ahead of myself. I don’t know what I have, and it doesn’t matter. I need a strong mark out first jump and spur, and that is the same goal every time out and hopefully the same outcome.”
In the steer wrestling, Hunter Cure’s smoking 3.4-second time took the night’s victory.
“I felt like I broke out, honestly,” Cure reveals. “But this is the only rodeo in the world where if you think you broke out, kick two more times and get down on your steer.”
As the event progresses, Cure has gained confidence every night, improving his runs as he moves through the rounds.
“I feel like I have been amped up like at my first NFR,” Cure admits. “I tried to calm down, but it’s just finding the balance of being up and down, and making it work!”
In the team roping, Tyler Wade and Trey Yates caught their steer masterfully in 3.9 seconds.
“It was a good steer,” Wade shared. “I saw him handle it well, so I knew I was going to give Trey [Yates] a chance to go fast, and he did. He cleaned up and it came together.”
This event relies on a strong partnership, something Wade and Yates have mastered after many trips in the roping pen together.
“We’ve roped so many steers together and practiced for many scenarios,” Yates says.
“I have full confidence [in Wade] no matter where we go. With a setup like this, he’s studied it so much. He’s been so in tune the last month that I knew he had a good chance to turn all ten. I messed up in Round 1, but I knew with him we would be able to bounce back and have a chance to win a lot of rounds together.”
Wade’s experience—and passion for the sport—helps the team stay solid despite the high stakes in Las Vegas.
“Anybody that gets here knows the game really well,” Wade explains. “But I continue to be a student of the game. This is my fifth year here and being able to learn from my own mistakes is the biggest thing for me to bounce back faster.”
As they look ahead to the next six nights of competition, the ropers plan to stay consistent and keep moving up the leaderboard.
“I really think it’s just one steer at a time,” Yates reveals. “We’re not going to try and change anything about our roping. I think we’re finding our groove now. I know if I do my job, we’re going to win a lot of rounds and the average will prevail.”
In the saddle bronc riding, Zeke Thurston scored an 88.5 on Championship Pro Rodeo’s Heaven on Earth to win round four. He matched with an unridden horse, making his ride the first aboard Heaven On Earth to pay out.
“It was unridden, but I figured, you know, they are all going to get ridden at some point so why not be the guy,” Thurston shares. “[He’s] a really big, strong stud horse that bucked hard. I was able to get ahead, and luckily, I stayed on.”
His mentality helps him stay steady and score high in the legendary Thomas and Mack arena.
“For me, my biggest confidence comes from my spur outs, and I was really confident in them,” Thurston reveals. “On a horse like that, that’s where you’re going to thrive. I always go with that and win, lose, or draw, we’re going to start the whole process all over again the next day. So, you might as well lay it all out there and see what you get.”
In the tie-down roping, Marty Yates broke his string of bad luck with a 7.4-second time and a win on night four.
“It’s nice to finally get the monkey off my back,” he admits. “I didn’t have much luck in the first few nights, but I made a good run tonight. I drew a good calf, I went out there and did my job, and it worked.”
Yates plans to keep aiming for the win as he heads into six more nights in Las Vegas.
“One swing, one wrap, and a victory lap, every night that’s what we’re after,” Yates remarks.
“This rodeo is the best guys in the world doing this. These are the people you want to surround yourself with. It’s awesome to go out there and give everything you have against these guys, really see what you’re made of.”
The barrel racers didn’t hold back tonight, and the clock saw fast time after fast time. Emily Beisel led the pack in round four with her winning time of 13.60 seconds.
“Every night in barrel racing is a knife fight,” Beisel reveals. “But I’m so thankful for my horse.
He’s been working so hard for me. I felt like the first couple of nights I was trying to cut corners a little too fast. Tonight, I gave him a little more room and he made it happen.”
As the competition begins to heat up, Beisel’s strategy remains focused on consistency.
“Every night is a new rodeo, and we have six of them left,” she says. “As much as we want to celebrate—we will tonight—but at 12:01 it starts a new day, and we have to get ready for the next run. One thing about rodeo is you have to have a short memory, and I’ve had to have it for the last couple of nights. I know my horse is good, and we can be confident in that, and I think we’re onward and upward.”
Night four closed with a bang as bull riding phenom Stetson Wright scored a 92-point ride on Salt River Rodeo’s Bully Dump.
“He was a really good bull,” Wright says. “He had me rocked back there because he bucked up so high. I just kept trying to fight it, there was a lot going on.”
After qualifying for the Wrangler NFR not only in the bull riding but also in the saddle bronc, Wright has doubled his commitment to the competition, but riding in two events each night is no small feat.
“I actually like it more at the NFR than any other rodeo because it’s such a fast-paced rodeo,” Wright reveals. “You don’t have time to think, and you don’t have time to get tired. You’re just going, going, going.”
This coverage of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is an online exclusive for Western Life Today. Click to subscribe to Western Life Today!