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Six Utahns head for Las Vegas rodeo
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

After experiencing some turbulence during the 2010 season, the Wright brothers have landed in Las Vegas for the National Finals Rodeo.

Former world saddle bronc champion Cody Wright and 21-year-old Jesse Wright will compete in the $5.9 million rodeo that starts Thursday night and runs through Dec. 11 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Cody Wright, the 2008 world champion, will make his eighth appearance in the National Finals.

But it wasn't easy.

The top 15 money-winners in each event qualify for the NFR and, as late as mid-July, he found himself in 22nd place in the saddle bronc standings.

But Cody Wright's win in the Days of '47 Rodeo in West Valley City triggered a blistering finish to the season.

After winning Utah's biggest rodeo, he finished third on the money list and easily punched his ticket to the National Finals.

"That's why I'm out here rodeoing — so I can go to the Finals," said the 33-year-old Wright.

"I guess if I wasn't planning on going to the Finals, I wouldn't be out here."

Meanwhile, Jesse Wright ended the season in 16th place in the saddle bronc standings.

Even though he was only $428 behind 15th-place Sam Spreadborough, Wright originally failed to qualify for the National Finals.

Two weeks ago, however, saddle bronc veteran Rod Hay informed Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association officials that he would be unable to compete in his 21st NFR because of an injury.

Hay fractured his leg June 20 at Innisfail, Alberta, and is still recovering, which opened the door for Wright.

"I needed to get more mobility in my leg and feel comfortable that I could be competitive," Hay said in a PRCA statement.

"If I'm going to go there, I want to be a threat and believe I have a chance. People pay a lot of money to go to Las Vegas, and they want to see that guys are competing to win. I didn't feel I would be at that level."

Said Cody Wright, Hay's long-time rival, "You feed off those great bronc riders. They give it their best every time and you think, 'I want to do that.' … He will be truly missed."

Besides the Wright brothers, four other Utahns qualified for this year's National Finals.

Bull riders Wesley Silcox and Steve Woolsey, along with Kaycee Feild in bareback and Kelli Tolbert in barrel racing, will compete.

Silcox and Woolsey enter the NFR ranked first and third in the money standings. They are in prime position to win a world title in rodeo's glamour event.

luhm@sltrib.com

National Finals Rodeo

P Dec. 2-11Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas —

Utah connection

Utah's six participants in the National Finals Rodeo, which will be held Dec. 2-11 in Las Vegas •

KAYCEE FEILD

Residence • Payson

Event • Bareback

2010 earnings • $74,148

His story • Qualified 12th among bareback riders despite missing two months with a broken arm that required surgery. … Making third National Finals appearance. … Placed eighth in the world in 2008. … Finished third in 2009 with earnings of $172,176. … Biggest wins this year came at Fort Worth and the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo.

WESLEY SILCOX

Residence • Santaquin

Event • Bull riding

2010 earnings • $137,392

His story • Qualified first among bull riders and makes his fifth National Finals Rodeo appearance. … Won the world championship in 2007. … Placed third in the world in 2006. … Finished eighth in 2008 despite suffering a late-season broken leg. … This year, he won the Xtreme Bulls Tour championship and Cheyenne Frontier Days.

KELLI TOLBERT

Residence • Hinckley

Event • Barrel racing

2010 earnings • $72,360

Her story • Finished eighth on the regular-season money list and qualified for her first National Finals Rodeo. … Biggest wins this year came at the Omak (Wash.) Stampede, the Sisters (Ore.) Rodeo, the Lehi Roundup and the Mountain Valley Stampede in Heber. … Was the 2009 Rookie of the Year in barrel racing.

STEVE WOOLSEY

Residence • Payson

Event • Bull riding

2010 earnings • $116,017

His story • Qualified third among bull riders. … This is his fifth appearance at the National Finals Rodeo. … Placed second in the world in 2005, fifth in 2008 and seventh in 2009. … This year, won the Justin Boots Championship in Omaha. … Also won at Canby, Ore., Sonora, Calif., and the Snake River Stampede in Nampa, Idaho.

JESSE WRIGHT

Residence • Milford

Event • Saddle bronc

2010 earnings • $56,908

His story • Finished 16th on the money list but qualified for his first National Finals when Rod Hay was forced to withdraw because of injury. … Was the 2009 saddle bronc Rookie of the Year. … Won this year's National Circuit Finals in Pocatello, Idaho. … Also won at the Lehi Roundup as well as Elko, Evanston, Wyo., Rosenberg, Texas. … He's 21.

CODY WRIGHT

Residence • Milford

Event • Saddle bronc

2010 earnings • $99,292

His story • Used a late surge to qualify third among saddle bronc riders. … Makes his eighth National Finals appearance. … Won the 2008 world championship. … Finished second in the world in 2005, third in 2003, fifth in 2006 and sixth in 2009. … This year, won at Pendleton, Ore., Ellensburg, Wash., and the Days of '47 Rodeo in West Valley City.

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