BARNES’ AND COOPER’S NFR PRE­DIC­TIONS

Jake Barnes and Clay O’Brien Cooper set the 59.1-sec­ond Na­tional Fi­nals Rodeo av­er­age record nearly a quar­ter of a century ago, back in 1994. Here’s what our in-house dream team­ers think about who has the best shot of win­ning the av­er­age, and the odds of

Spin to Win Rodeo - - Departments - By Clay O’Brien Cooper and Jake Barnes with Ken­dra San­tos

-AKE ON 7+E N)R A9ERA*E

I like Clay Smith and Paul Eaves in the av­er­age. Clay’s not just go­ing to throw when the bar­rier pops. He’s go­ing to get a good start, and stick it on ’em. Then Paul’s go­ing to rope ’em fast. And Paul’s not just go­ing to set him­self up for one shot. He’s go­ing to have a lit­tle bit of de­fense go­ing, too. I just think that they have a re­ally pat­terned run. They have a lot of con­trol and con­sis­tency to­gether, and that’s what it takes to win the av­er­age.

Ev­ery year I say that record’s got a great chance of go­ing down. It looks like it’s go­ing to be bro­ken, then some­thing hap­pens, and sud­denly it’s stuck around for 24 years. Re­al­is­ti­cally, as fast as they rope steers now, av­er­ag­ing 5.9 sec­onds a run is not that fast in that lit­tle build­ing. But it’s harder than it looks, when you’re rop­ing steers in the 3s and 4s. I never think it’ll last from year to year, but it’s still main­tain­ing. We shall see.

CLAY ON 7+E N)R A9ERA*E

I’d have to give the av­er­age edge to Chad Masters and Joseph Har­ri­son, be­cause Chad’s go­ing to be go­ing in there think­ing about win­ning that av­er­age, and he’s won it three times the last few times he’s been there (in 2006 with Allen Bach, 2012 with Champ, and 2017 with Travis Graves). It’s hard to get Chad pulled off of his game plan, to where he’s go­ing to make a mis­take. Last year, Chad and Travis won the av­er­age, and you could tell af­ter ev­ery run that that’s what they were try­ing to do.

I’d have to back Chad and Joseph up this year with Clay Tryan and Travis Graves. If Clay de­cides to turn 10 steers, he’s go­ing to be tough. It’s just hard to com­pete for first in the go-rounds and turn enough steers to win the av­er­age. Your mind­set and your game plan go­ing in is one way or the other. You’re ei­ther go­ing in there think­ing you’re go­ing to com­pete for first ev­ery night, or not. If you’re in go-round mode—and have it turned up that hot— it’s hard to turn nine or 10 steers in a row.

We’ve seen guys like Chad, Luke Brown, and Erich Rogers last year put on a clinic at the Fi­nals. When those guys go there with the mind­set that they’re there to turn 10 steers, they’re try­ing to be ag­gres­sive, but they’re not likely to miss. That’s dif­fer­ent from com­ing with it over the chute ev­ery night.

I would like to add the Nava­jos to this year’s av­er­age con­ver­sa­tion also. You have to watch out for Erich, Der­rick (Be­gay), and (Aaron) Tsinig­ine, be­cause they could up­set ev­ery­body’s hopes and plans. Those boys are com­ing to beat you, and they don’t care who’s there or what’s go­ing on.

As for that record, it just de­pends on how many of those guys show up with the game plan of try­ing to win the av­er­age. Der­rick, Erich, and Spinig­ine are al­ready think­ing about go­ing for the av­er­age. Whether they stay in that mind­set or not is yet to be seen, but they all know how to set up a run. It’ll come down to who stays in it in the heat of the mo­ment.

There’s a high-per­cent­age chance that record will be gone if sev­eral guys de­cide that turn­ing ev­ery steer is their pri­or­ity. But it’s hard to stay in that mode. It gets ex­cit­ing, and you get to watch­ing the mon­i­tor rid­ing down that tun­nel. You’ve got a good one drawn, and it’s hard not to de­cide, “I’m go­ing for it.” It’s a men­tal game. And it’s a Jake Barnes/Chad Masters type of a mind­set that you have to stay in to get that job done.

“RE­AL­IS­TI­CALLY, AS FAST AS THEY ROPE STEERS NOW, AV­ER­AG­ING 5.9 SEC­ONDS A RUN IS NOT THAT FAST IN THAT LIT­TLE BUILD­ING.” —JAKE BARNES

JAKE BARNES AND CLAY O’BRIEN COOPER HAVE HELD THE NFR AV­ER­AGE RECORD FOR 24 YEARS.

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