CONTESTANTS VIE FOR SPOT AT PUYALLUP PRO RODEO

With the clock ticking before the first performance of the Justin boots Playoffs at the Puyallup Pro Rodeo hosted by the Washington State Fair, rodeo contestants are becoming very focused on the world standings.

Only the top 24 contestants in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association qualify for the richest rodeo in the Northwest on Sept. 6-8. That means Matt Shiozawa, from Chubbock, Idaho, who won the tie-down roping here last year has some ground to make up. Shiozawa is 28th in the standings.

Last year, Shiozawa won $19, 615, moved into the top 10 in the standings and qualified for his sixth Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR). In order to be in Las Vegas this December to compete at rodeo’s championships, he has got to earn enough money to qualify for the Playoffs where he could have a repeat victory and move into the top 15 in the standings.

For reigning world champion bull rider Cody Teel from Kountze, Texas, the goal is the same, but has a different outcome. Teel is in third place in the standings, just $20,000 behind J.W. Harris, from Mullin, Texas, who won $20,697 and the title here last year. Teel led the world standings for much of the 2012 season en route to his first gold buckle signifying he is the world’s best. He will be in Puyallup trying to narrow the gap between him and Harris before the regular season is over the end of September.

Harris is himself a three-time world champion and two-time runner up. In fact, the 2012 race was so tight, Teel won the title by a mere $1,056, less than 1 percent of his total earnings.

“Winning Puyallup was really important for me last year,” Harris said. “This year, I’m in a better position in the world standings, but as good as Cody and those other guys ride, you can’t have too much of a lead going into the finals (NFR).”

The 24 contestants in bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping (heading and heeling), saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping and women’s barrel racing will be competing for nearly $500,000. The contestants will be split into two groups of twelve and each will compete twice. Their goal is to do well enough to advance to the semi-finals and the finals, which will both be held on Sept. 8 where the lion’s share of the prize money will be paid and Puyallup Rodeo champions will be determined. .

Tickets for the rodeo start at just $5 and may be purchased online at http://www.thefair.com.

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