John Bland, a former New Mexico Junior College competitor, has qualified for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping, which is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Nov. 10-11, in Mulvane, Kan. Bland, who currently lives in a ranch near Turkey, Texas, comes from a strong rodeo family. His father, whose first name also is John, qualified for the National Finals Rodeo in bull riding in 1976 and 1977. His uncle, Steve, qualified for the NFR in tie-down roping in 1980 and his uncle, Rex, qualified for the NFR in steer wrestling in 1971-73. The younger John Bland, who has qualified for the National Finals Steer Roping for the first time, said he has greatly benefitted from growing up in a rodeo family.
"They grew up doing it," Bland said of his father and his uncles' rodeo careers. "I grew up doing it. It's just a rodeo family. It just gets in your blood." This year, Bland will enter the 2017 National Finals Steer Roping ranked No. 10 in the PRCA world title race after earning $48,184 during the regular season. Bland grew up on a ranch between Tatum, N.M., and Lovington, N.M. After graduating from high school in Tatum, Bland competed for NMJC in the early 1990s. After that, he competed for Texas Tech. At the time, Bland competed in tie-down roping and team roping. But after graduating from Texas Tech in the mid-1990s, Bland curtailed his rodeo activities and became heavily committed to ranching. But about three years ago, he took up steer roping. During the past year, he has had great success on the PRCA circuit and earned his first National Finals Steer Roping berth. While making prize winning run after run, Bland received lots of help from his 16-year-old roping horse whose nickname is Salty. Salty, whose American Quarter Horse Association registered name is Carols Sassy Doc, won the AQHA/PRCA Steer Roping Horse of the Year title this year. Tuf Cooper, who lives in Weatherford, Texas, also has qualified for the NFSR. He's ranked No. 13 with $44,217. Cooper is the son of eight-time PRCA world champion Roy Cooper, a Hobbs, N.M., native who lives in Decatur, Texas. He's also a grandson of the late Tuffy Cooper, a longtime who lived in Monument, N.M. Twenty-three time world champion Trevor Brazile, an Amarillo, Texas, native who lives in Decatur, Texas, has earned a NFSR back number. He's ranked No. 5 with $64,266. Jason Evans of Glen Rose, Texas, is ranked No. 1 with $84,156. Vin Fisher of Andrews, Texas, is ranked No. 2 with $78,934, and Chet Herrin of Pawhuska, Okla., is No. 3 with $72,976.
Youngest PBR champion Twenty-year-old Jess Lockwood of Volborg, Mont., became the youngest cowboy to clinch a world title on the Professional Bull Riders circuit and received a $1 million bonus as the 2017 World Finals concluded its five-day run Sunday, Nov. 5, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. In clinching the world's most coveted bull riding title, Lockwood broke the age record set by Mike Lee of Decatur who snared the gold buckle at age 21 in 2004. In the PBR, the world champion receives $1 million in addition to the prize money he earns during the regular season and the PBR World Finals. Lockwood's total 2017 earnings were $1,525,292. Lockwood said it took lots of determination to win the world title. "It took a lot of grit, just cowboying up each and every weekend, Lockwood said. "You have to make the most out of every single bull." Jose Vitor Leme, a Brazilian, clinched the 2017 World Finals event (average/aggregate) title. He was the only rider who stayed on all six bulls during the Las Vegas championships. Leme, who also won the PBR's Rookie of the Year title, earned $416,000 during the World Finals. For the second consecutive year, SweetPro's Bruiser (D&H Cattle Co./Buck Cattle Co.) clinched the PBR's 2017 World Champion Bull title.
College rodeo update After finishing fifth at the Sul Ross Rodeo last weekend in Alpine, South Plains College's women's team is ranked No. 1 in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Southwest Region women's team title race. In the regional men's team title race, Tarleton State is ranked No. 1. NMJC is ranked No. 10. The Sul Ross Rodeo was the fifth of 10 regional shows scheduled for the 2017-2018 regular season.
Cutting horse update The 2017 National Cutting Horse Association Futurity is scheduled for Nov. 15-Dec. 10 at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum in Fort Worth. The Futurity, which is the sport's most prestigious show, is the first jewel of the sport's Triple Crown Series.
Brett Hoffman , a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has reported on rodeos for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for more than three decades. Email him at bchoffman777@ earth-link.net .