Nothing is official yet – but bareback rider Jacob Lees took a large step to make his Wrangler National Finals Rodeo dream a reality Friday night.
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The Caldwell, Idaho, cowboy had an 86.5-point trip on Championship Pro Rodeo’s The Crow to split the round two win of the inaugural Cinch Playoffs Governor’s Cup presented by Community Coffee at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.
Lees shared the title with Clayton Biglow, who had an 86.5-point ride on Brookman Rodeo’s SOS.
“That’s what dreams are made of,” said Lees, 27, about his clutch Friday ride. “I don’t even know what to say. That’s what I have dreamed of since I was a little kid, and it is finally coming true. I don’t think it has sunk in yet. I’m still not there and until I’m on the back of those (yellow bucking) chutes (at the NFR), I don’t know if I will believe it.”
The Friday night ride added to Lees outstanding performance so far in Sioux Falls.
On Sept. 26, he was 17th in the PRCA | RAM World Standings with $99,002. He was $7,004 behind No. 15 Cole Franks. He responded by placing second on Thursday night with an 85.5-point ride on Bailey Pro Rodeo’s Adam’s Pet and pocketed $7,500.
On Friday, he earned another $8,750 toward the world standings, which should push him into the coveted Top 15 in the world standings to qualify for the Wrangler NFR.
“I knew my ride (Friday night) was going to take everything I had, and I gave it everything I had,” Lees said. “I had not been on that horse before, but I had seen it a bunch of times and I was excited to have it. It was everything I thought it would be and more. I expected a fight, and that sucker brought it, and I was bringing it right back.”
Biglow, meanwhile, got a measure of revenge.
Back on the first of July in Red Lodge, Mont., Brookman Rodeo’s SOS go the best of the 2019 PRCA World Champion, bucking him off.
“I didn’t along with her in Red Lodge,” Bigow said. “She whacked me in the head pretty good and I was seeing some stars.”
Biglow was ready for the rematch Friday.
“I had a lot different game plan getting on her (Friday night),” Biglow said. “The ride felt good, and she had a great trip. She has been off since July, and she was fresh. I knew she was going to be good, and she had an awesome day. I knew I just had to do my job and spur and I knew we were going to be some points.”
Biglow entered Friday fifth in the PRCA | RAM World Standings with $151,432 and will increase that total by $8,750 with more to win Saturday at the $1.1 million rodeo, the richest in South Dakota history.
The Cinch Playoffs Governor’s Cup concludes at 7:30 p.m. (CT) Sept. 30.
On Saturday, it will be a clean slate for the contestants with the top eight in the aggregate from rounds 1 and 2 competing, which will include Lees and Biglow. The top four times/scores advance to a final round and an even bigger payday.
The final four round pays $25,000 to first; $19,000 (second); $12,000 (third); and $6,000 (fourth).
“I had a hard time sleeping (Thursday night) because I knew I had that good horse, and I don’t know if I will sleep (Friday night),” Lees said. “I will figure out what I have Saturday and run it through my head 100 times trying to figure it out.”
Biglow is thrilled to be part of this lucrative rodeo.
“This (event) is awesome,” Biglow said. “What Sioux Falls did to put on this deal is great for us. We wish we could do this every weekend, come to rodeos like this. As Professional Rodeo athletes, we rodeo for these life-changing payouts. You can come here and get on four horses and win you a pile of money and feel good going to the (NFR).”
Other winners Friday were steer wrestler Nick Guy (3.3 seconds); team ropers Coleman Proctor/Logan Medlin (4.6 seconds); saddle bronc rider Sage Newman (85.5 points on Three Hills Rodeo’s Ronnie); tie-down roper Caleb Smidt (7.0 seconds); breakaway roper Joey Williams (1.7 seconds); barrel racer Emily Beisel (13.69 seconds); and bull rider Dustin Boquet (89.5 points on Sankey Pro Rodeo & Phenom Genetics’ Bugatti).
Courtesy of PRCA