Dakota Eldridge — after five straight appearances in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo — will makes his sixth trip to Sin City.
The 2019 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo kicks off at 7 p.m. Thursday at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, four Nevada cowboys qualifying for the event — two fully-accustomed veterans and a pair of first-timers.
Fallon’s Jade Corkill — a three-time world champion heeler (2012-2014) an a 10-time WNFR qualifier — will compete in the team roping.
Winnemucca boasts a pair of first-time contestants, saddle bronc rider Mitch Pollock and bareback rider Trenten Montero each qualifying for their first WNFRs.
Eldridge’s run of five WNFRs in a row came to a crash, tearing his ACL and other interior knee ligaments during a slack run in July 2018 at the Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming.
However, the Badger — Badge, Duck — known by a number of nicknames, rehabbed his knee and has once again showed why he is one of the best bulldoggers on the planet.
Eldridge will enter the 2019 WFNR in 11th place, winning $81,103.11 on the season.
2019 Season Highlights
In total, Eldridge won first place or split the top spot in eight Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association events during the year.
His biggest payday came during the Greeley (Colorado) Stampede, totaling $9,614 in earnings at the rodeo.
He won the average with a time of 11.9 seconds on three runs for $4,255 and took first in the second round with a 3.7-second run for $2,836.
Eldridge tied for first in the short-go with a time of 4.1 seconds for $1,166 and placed fourth on his first steer with another 4.1-second effort for another $1,357.
At the Dodge City (Kansas) Roundup, he knocked down $8,780.
Eldridge won the average with a time of 12-flat on three runs for $3,943.
He earned $2,286 for winning the first round in 3.8 seconds, split second in the second round with a 3.9 for $2,114, and tied for fourth with a time of 4.3 seconds in the short-go for another $437.
During the Clovis (California) Rodeo, Eldridge slammed another aggregate title for $3,539 with a time of 22.7 seconds on four runs.
He took second place on his third steer with a time of 4.7 seconds for $1,539.
On his first run, he ranked third with a 5.3 for $846 — finishing second in the final round for $780 on a 5.6-second run.
He won second in the gold medal round of the Days of ‘47 Rodeo in Salt Lake City, raking in $25,000 with a 4.22-second performance.
Eldridge made a habit of making single runs count, winning a number of one-head rodeos.
During the Mountain Valley Stampede, in Heber City, Utah, he picked up $2,961 in four seconds of work.
He needed just 3.4 seconds to rake in $2,017 at the Lynden (Washington) Rodeo.
His first one-steer victory came at the Las Vegas Helldorado Days with a time of 4.1 seconds for $1,946 and added another one-head win at the Ramona (California) Rodeo with another 4.1 for $1,690.
At the Norco (California) Mounted Posse Rodeo, he threw his steer in 4.5 seconds and took home $1,036.
With 10 guys in front of him in the standings, Eldridge likes where he is and his mindset is clear.
“Coming in where I am, I think it’s the perfect spot. There really is nowhere to go but up from here,” he said. “I’m going pedal to the metal the whole time. There is no way you can back off $26,000 a night ($26,230.77 for first) and wait for some freak deal to happen that can take you out of the average ($67,269.77 for first).”
Eldridge mounted Blake Knowles and Bridger Chambers during the 2018 WNFR as he recovered from his knee injury.
Chambers finished second in the WNFR average and second in the year-end standings with $216,761.68 in earnings, winning $125,583.33 in the 10-day span aboard Rusty’s back — placing in five of 10 rounds.
Knowles placed in two rounds at the 2018 WNFR, winning $77,211.54 aboard Rusty.
For nine rounds of the WNFR, Nick Guy competed on a horse of Tom Lewis’.
As the rodeo progressed, the horse became more and more agitated in the box — reaching the point he reared out into the arena several times with both Guy and Riley Duvall.
Unsure if he could get a clean go at his final steer in Round 10, Guy climbed on Rusty — immediate payoff.
He won the final round with a time of 3.7 seconds, knocking down $26,230.77.
To be exact, the aging but always reliable superstar horse racked up $251,871.79 in earnings during the WNFR — being ridden by three cowboys but only two for the duration of the event.
Cheer on the Nevada talents, favorite cowboys and cowgirls during all 10 rounds of the 2019 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo from Thursday, Dec. 5 through Saturday, Dec. 14.
Coverage will air on CBS Sports Network, Channel 221 on DirecTV and Channel 158 on Dish Network, the pre-show kicking off coverage at 6:30 p.m. nightly and the rodeo following at 7 p.m.
Keep up on the nightly results, live scores, video highlights and contestant profiles throughout the duration of the WFNR on the PRCA website at prorodeo.com and on the Wrangler Network at wranglernetwork.com.
LAS VEGAS — Several records were flirted with Wednesday during Round 7 of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, but one changed hands.
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This photo illustration of Elko's Dakota Eldridge is from a steer wrestling run at the 2019 Reno Rodeo. Eldridge will compete in his sixth Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, at Thomas & Mack Center, in Las Vegas, which begins a 10-day event at 7 p.m. Thursday.
In this photo illustration, Elko's Dakota Eldridge salutes the crowd on Dec. 10, 2017, after his 3.9-second run in the steer wrestling during the fourth round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, at Thomas & Mack Center, in Las Vegas. He placed third on the run. Eldridge will compete in his sixth WNFR in a seven-year span, kicking off a 10-day stretch at 7 p.m. Thursday.
In this photo illustration, Elko's Dakota Eldridge shapes his steer on Dec. 14, 2017, during Round 8 of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, at Thomas & Mack Center, in Las Vegas. He finished his run in 4.1 seconds, tying for third place.
Dakota Eldridge throws his second steer of the Greeley (Colorado) Stampede on June 27, 2019, winning the round with a time of 3.7 seconds. He claimed the average title with a three-run total of 11.9 seconds. He won second in the gold medal round of the Days of '47 Rodeo, in Salt Lake City, raking in $25,000 with a 4.22-second performance.
At the time, four-time National Finals Rodeo steer wrestler, 2015 NFR average winner and runner-up to the 2015 world championship Dakota Eldridge, left, stands with his father Mark on May 10, 2017, at Eldridge's arena in Elko. Mark holds the world-renowned horse Rusty, near, who has packed Eldridge to all six of his NFR qualifications.
National Finals Rodeo 2015 average winner and reserve world champion steer wrestler Dakota Eldridge stands in the Eldridge family barn with his horse, Rusty. Eldridge won more than $134,000 at the 2015 NFR on Rusty, who also carried five-time world champion Luke Branquinho to more than $65,000 at the Super Bowl of rodeo in Las Vegas.
Roscoe Jarboe dismounts Dakota Eldridge's horse "Rusty" as Clayton Hass, left, hazes during the first round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo on Dec. 6, 2017, at Thomas & Mack Center, in Las Vegas. Chambers rode Rusty to a runner-up finish in the world standings, also ranking second in the WNFR average. In 10 days, Chambers won $125,583.33.
Blake Knowles dismounts Dakota Eldridge's horse "Rusty" during Round 4 of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo on Dec. 9, 2017, at Thomas & Mack Center, in Las Vegas. Knowles won $77,211.54 on Rusty at the WNFR.