Reprint from Heston Inc. Newsletter
In early 2013, Hesston decided to further expand its support of ProRodeo by creating Team Hesston. Building on the success of 2012 Hesston endorsees and World Champions, Luke Branquinho and Cody Teel, Hesston expanded the team to add steer wrestler K.C. Jones, barrel racers Sherry Cervi and Fallon Taylor, and team ropers Kaleb Driggers, Travis Graves, Dustin Bird and Paul Eaves. Finally, the team was rounded out with one more extremely important endorsee, Sherry Cervi’s barrel racing mare, Stingray.
At the time the team was created more than 6,000 cowboys and cowgirls were headed down the rodeo trail dreaming of qualifying for the 2013 NFR. The NFR is the Super Bowl of Pro Rodeo where contestants run at more than six million dollars in prize money and the World Champions of ProRodeo are crowned. Only 120 contestants (15 per event) qualify for each NFR.
Only 120 spots at the NFR? No problem for Team Hesston. As Team Hesston members like to say: “We Got This.” Not only did the entire team qualify, but they qualified in style.
Sherry Cervi/Stingray: Sherry Cervi and her Team Hesston teammate Stingray enter the 2013 NFR ranked 1st in the World with $147,417.71 in season earnings. Those earnings qualified her for the #2 back number overall. Sherry is no stranger to the NFR as this is her 16th trip. She is also no stranger to winning world titles having left Vegas with a World Champion’s Gold Buckle in 1995, 1999 and 2010. Look for Sherry and Stingray to continue their winning ways as they try to start fast and add to their lead in the early rounds of the NFR and stay consistent through all 10 rounds to ride their way to another coveted Gold Buckle.
Fallon Taylor: After finishing a heartbreaking 16th and just missing a trip to the NFR in 2012, Fallon Taylor was not going to be denied in 2013. She and her mare Babyflo will make a triumphant return to the NFR as they carry a 5th place ranking in the World and $100,859.83 into the Thomas & Mack arena. Taylor first qualified for the NFR in 1995 at the age of 13 and followed that performance with three more consecutive appearances before taking a break from barrel racing to pursue her modeling and acting career. Now returning for the first time in 15 years, Fallon has her sights set on challenging for her first World Title. Look for Fallon and Babyflo to try and recapture their early season form that had them ranked #1 in the World through much of 2013.
K.C. Jones: K.C. Jones, currently ranked 6th in the World, hopes that 7 is his lucky number as 2013 marks his 7th NFR qualification. It will be the first NFR that he has ridden on behalf of Team Hesston and he’s hoping that a little Hesston magic will help him bring home his first World Title. With $69,207.00 in 2013 earnings, K.C. trails #1 ranked steer wrestler Casey Martin ($108,937.92) by $39,730.92. Given that the nightly pay off for first place in a round is more than $18,000, fortunes and World Rankings can change quickly in Las Vegas.
Luke Branquinho: Defending World Champion, Luke Branquinho, qualifies for his 12th NFR and enters 2013 ranked 13th in the World with $57,300.00 in earnings. With a history of strong showings at the NFR, including a record-setting 21 round wins to his credit, a 5th World Title is well within the realm of possibility if Luke can put together another spectacular NFR. Luke not only won the World Championship in 2012, but also in 2011, behind an extremely consistent showing, winning rounds 5 and 9 and placing in 7 of the remaining 8 rounds. Another performance like 2011 and Luke could well be joining the rarified air of threepeat World Champions.
Cody Teel: 21 year-old Cody Teel will defend his World Title at the 2013 NFR having won the Gold Buckle last year in his first NFR qualification ever. Cody enters the 2013 NFR ranked 5th in the World with $93,064.00 in earnings. Teel trails #1 ranked, J.W. Harris by $37,319.46. In 2012 Cody bested Harris by just over a $1,000 to win the World. Look for the 2013 NFR Bull Riding to be a knockout round by round brawl between these two former World Champions who each want to leave Las Vegas with another Gold Buckle.
Kaleb Driggers (Header): Georgia cowboy, Kaleb Driggers enters his third consecutive NFR as the #2 ranked Header in the World, with $105,445.00 in earnings. With #1 ranked Clay Tryan just over $7,000 ahead, Kaleb and his 2013 heeling partner, fellow Team Hesston teammate Travis Graves are perfectly positioned for a run at a World Championship and a Gold Buckle. Look for Driggers and his lightning fast, aggressive roping style to set the pace and make some fast throws in the small Thomas & Mack arena. Driggers said when he joined Team Hesston that his number one priority was winning the World in 2013. Now that he’s in position to accomplish that goal, keep a close eye on him coming out of the Thomas & Mack box, but definitely don’t blink.
Travis Graves (Heeler): Heeler Travis Gravis enters the 2013 NFR ranked #2 in the World, trailing #1 ranked Jade Corkhill by just $1,283.05. With 2013 earnings of $110,670.00, Travis heads to his 5th NFR, having previously qualified in 2008 and 2010-2012. In 2012, Travis won the 7th round of the NFR with a time of 3.6 seconds and placed in four other rounds. In 2011, he placed in four rounds of the NFR and finished 2nd in the World. Travis, who has a reputation for being an “automatic, machine at roping two feet” will try to bring that consistency to this year’s NFR and pair it with the fast throws of Kaleb Driggers to hopefully rope his way to his first Gold Buckle.
Dustin Bird (Header): Header, Dustin Bird enters the 2013 NFR ranked #10 in the World with earnings of $72,708.00. Dustin, who qualified for his first NFR in 2012, loves roping at the NFR because “you can win $18,000 every time you nod your head.” He speaks from experience having won the 4th round of the 2012 NFR with a time of 3.9. seconds. Along with his heeling partner and Team Hesston teammate Paul Eaves, Dustin will look to make a run at besting his 10th place finish in the 2012 World Standings. And as Dustin points out at $18,000 a throw all it takes is a hot streak during the right 10 days in December to go from 10th to World Champion.
Paul Eaves (Heeler): Heeler Paul Eaves also enters his second consecutive NFR and like his roping partner, Dustin Bird, is currently ranked #10 in the World. He brings $71,884.00 in 2013 earnings to Las Vegas and will look to bank as much as possible over the 10 rounds of the NFR as he too chases his first ever Gold Buckle. Both Paul and his dad Russ started their roping careers together when Paul was about 12 years old. He’s come a long way from roping that first steer back in Lonedell, Missouri with his Dad, to his second consecutive NFR and those who watch team roping closely are looking for big things from the young gun team of Paul and Dustin at this year’s NFR.
- See more at: http://www.hesston.com/teamhesstonrodeo/newsletters/nov2013/team-hesston-preview-2013-wrangler-national-finals-rodeo--here-comes-team-hesston?elq=c084c6c612c148c08ef6ba6d33da1698&elqCampaignId=158#sthash.XeOddbed.dpuf