Four-time PRCA World Champion Tuf Cooper – 2011-12, 2014 and all-around 2017 – has never been in this position before – but he’s enjoying the ride.
Cooper entered the last two weeks of the PRCA regular season on the outside looking in to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Teton Ridge.
However, the Decatur, Texas, cowboy is doing everything possible to try and secure his 15th qualification to the NFR by the end of the PRCA regular season, Sept. 30.
That was on full display last week.
Cooper earned $10,602 at five of the seven rodeos he competed at, with his biggest payday of $3,196, coming when he won the Sheriff’s PRCA Rodeo in San Bernardino, Calif., which concluded Sept. 24.
Cooper claimed the San Bernardino title with an 8.7-second run.
“It was a busy week,” said Cooper, 33. “I had never been to San Bernardino. There are a lot of rodeos I went to last week that I have never been to. The rodeos I have been going to have been really cool and I’ve really been enjoying them. They are great rodeos, like San Bernardino had a sold-out crowd. I used a horse named Relapse in San Bernardino. That belongs to my buddy and the horse worked really good there.
That morning (Sept. 23) I was in Poway, Calif., and I had the best (calf) in the pen and that evening in (San Bernardino) I had a stronger one and Relapse was great back-to-back.”
Cooper won the Poway (Calif.) Rodeo with a 7.9-second run and earned $2,248. By Monday, Cooper was 15th in the PRCA | RAM World Standings with $109,702. Luke Potter sits 16th with $100,873.
Cooper didn’t win a dollar at the Cinch Playoffs in Puyallup, Wash., Sept. 7-10, but he wasn’t ready to quit on his season.
“You just have to trust that God has a plan and I’m happy there were still a lot of rodeos to get to and the goals are to do your job and get into the Top 15,” Cooper said. “If God has a plan for me to get there or whatever God’s plan is, I’m with it.”
This week, Cooper is going to continue to crisscross the country and go into Canada as he tries to earn as much money as possible.
Unlike Cooper, Potter is competing at the Cinch Playoffs Governor’s Cup presented by Community Coffee, Sept. 28-30 in Sioux Falls, S.D., he could win as much as $45,000, which Cooper is aware of.
“I have five rodeos to get to this week,” Cooper said. “I’m headed to Pasadena, Texas, (Sept. 26), then I’m in Cumberland, Maine (Sept. 27-28), on (Sept. 29) I’m in Edmonton, Alberta, and (Sept. 30) I’m in Mona, Utah, to finish it out. I have never had to chase an NFR bid like this, but to be honest, I’m enjoying it. It has been a really cool, fun experience. The only thing I can do is focus and control myself. My attitude. My effort and my attention.”
Other winners in San Bernardino were all-around cowboy Brushton Minton ($3,008, tie-down roping, steer wrestling and team roping); bareback rider Jacob Lees (85 points on Bridwell Pro Rodeos’ Uncle Stinky); steer wrestler Stan Branco (4.4 seconds); team ropers Derrick Begay/Colter Todd (4.5 seconds); saddle bronc riders Leon Fountain (86.5 points on Bridwell Pro Rodeos’ Indian Country), and Statler Wright (86.5 points on Bridwell Pro Rodeos’ Scarlet Lady); barrel racer Miley Bravos (15.42 seconds); and bull rider TJ Gray (83 points on Bridwell Pro Rodeos’ Big Nasty Jax).
-courtesy of the PRCA –