Struxness, Aus win big at National Finals Rodeo
LAS VEGAS -- J.D. Struxness arrived in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago with a world championship on his mind. He'll have to settle for making big money in Sin City and a No. 4 finish in the world standings. That's not too shabby for a first-time Wra...
LAS VEGAS - J.D. Struxness arrived in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago with a world championship on his mind.
He'll have to settle for making big money in Sin City and a No. 4 finish in the world standings. That's not too shabby for a first-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier in just his second year competing in ProRodeo. His 10 days in the Nevada desert was highlighted by victories in Rounds 3, 4, 5 and 10.
"To be able to come into my first NFR and win four go-rounds is great," said Struxness, 22, of Appleton. "We had to work out the mistakes at my rookie NFR. We could have had a better week. If we could have got in the average, maybe we could have given it a run at the world title."
Instead, Louisiana cowboy Tyler Waguespack claimed the gold buckle, but Struxness finished with the fastest time in the 10th round, a 3.6-second run worth another $26,231. In all, the Minnesota man walked away from Las Vegas with $128,673. He finished the season with $213,108.
"You can't make that kind of money anywhere else," Struxness said. "That's a pretty good daily wage coming out here to Vegas."
Struxness attended Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Mo., then transferred to Northwestern Oklahoma State University, where he is a senior. He is the reigning college champion, but his lessons continued into the Nevada desert.
"The things I learned the most is not making the simple mistakes I made in Rounds 2 and 6," he said. "Don't relax in this building. I feel like in those two rounds I might have just relaxed a little bit and made those two mistakes. They were costly at the end of the week, but we were able to still make a good week out of it."
It was a great way to close out his season.
"I knew I had a good steer that they placed on, so I was just trying to get aggressive and make a good run," Struxness said. "I just wanted to make a good run and get in the money. Being able to come out on top was even better."
Aus No. 5 in world
Tanner Aus has had an amazing salary in just nine December nights.
He won Friday's ninth go-round, marking the third time he's earned at least a share of the top score in bareback riding. He also has placed three other nights. So far, he has earned $100,468 in a week and a half, pushing his season total to $213,152.
Aus finished out of the money in Saturday's 10th and final round but he finished the 10-day Wrangler National Finals Rodeo ranked No. 5 in the world.
"I knew I had an opportunity to win the round," said Aus of Granite Falls. "I had a little bit of those first-night jitters again."
He pocketed $26,231 after an 88.5-point ride on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo's Good Time Charlie, a veteran sorrel gelding that is bucking at the NFR for the ninth time.
"I've seen him a lot, and he's taken a lot of my buddies to the pay window," said Aus, who shared the first-round win and also earned the victory on the third night. "My traveling partner, Ty Breuer, won Guymon on him a couple of years ago.
"That's another horse I've been craving, and I got on for the first time here at the National Finals; that means the world to me."
The Minnesota cowboy has done very well in Sin City. Through 19 go-rounds inside the Thomas & Mack Center, he has pocketed $184,224. He's also have a great time.
"After nine rounds, it's incredible here," Aus said Friday. "There are guys that come out of the sports medicine rom, and they're all taped up and full of ice, and they're still happy to be here. That really fuels the fire and makes it fun."