All in the genes

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LAS VEGAS — Last year it took Kaycee Feild six rounds to get rid of the butterflies and pick up a paycheck at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

This year, it took him until Round Two.

Feild, a second-generation rodeo competitor, won the round on Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center, riding Dusty Dan of Harry Vold Rodeo Company for 89 points.

It gave him $17,139 for winning the round and puts him first in the 10-round average with 171.5 points on two head.

The Elk City, Utah cowboy said winning the average was his goal coming into the event and drawing a horse like Dusty Dan is the way to do it.

"That horse is awesome," said Feild. "I've had him three times and felt really lucky to draw him here. He's just awesome, gets stronger every jump and you can win a check anywhere, anytime."

If Feild does win the average, it would come 25 years after his Hall of Fame father, Lewis Feild, did it in the first year the NFR was held in Las Vegas.

The younger Feild said he talks to his father regularly.

"He says just be careful, go to bed and stay away from the night life," he said.

Has he followed his father's sage advice?

"I haven't so far," he said with a laugh.

Saddle bronc rider J.J. Elshere of Quinn, S.D., knows about winning the average at the WNFR. He did it in 2006 and is now first in the average after two rounds with 170 points. He moved there with an 89.5-point ride on Lock & Load of Andrews Rodeo Company.

It was the highest score of the rodeo thus far and earned Elshere the $17,139 top prize.

He said he was thrilled with the ride, especially after a tenuous start to it.

"He dang near had me in the dirt right out of the gate so I was just glad I got to stay on him long enough," Elshere said.

In team roping, David Key of Caldwell, Texas and eight-time world champion Rich Skelton of Llano, Texas roped their steer in 3.9 seconds to win the round and $17,139 apiece.

"Everything was just like you would draw it up on that run tonight," Key said. "I got a great start and the start here is everything. I was able to get it on him fast and the steer handled clean and fast and let Rich heel him fast and get us a good fast finish. Everything was just about textbook tonight."

In tie-down roping, Scott Kormos of Teague, Texas had the fast time of the night, roping and tying his calf in 7.1 seconds on a night when most of the tie-down ropers struggled.
For Kormos, who had a no-time on his Round One ride on Thursday, it was sweet redemption.

"Man, I had a great calf tonight," he said. "I went out of the average last night, so the rest of the week, I've got to run and go as fast as I can and win something every night."

In bull riding, 2006 world champion B.J. Schumacher of Hillsboro, Wis., won the round with an 88-point ride on the bull Mission Accomplished of Four L & Diamond S Rodeo.

It was a relief for Schumacher, who bucked off his first-round bull.

"The bull is known to jump out of its spin and go back the other way, so I just tried to stay really square on him," he said. "I think I over-rode my bull (Thursday) night and that got me into trouble. Tonight, I tried to ride him jump for jump and stay in the middle, so if he did go the other way, I was ready for it."

In barrel racing, defending world champion Lindsay Sears of Nanton, Alberta, riding her top horse Martha, set the pace with a run of 13.95 seconds, finishing just ahead of world standings leader Brittany Pozzi, who had a 14.03-second run.

"Martha felt much sharper tonight," Sears said. "This was our first run since Omaha, so we were a bit rusty. It's always gets better once we get a few runs under our belt. I also think I rode her a lot better tonight than I did during the first run."

In steer wrestling, Shawn Greenfield of Lakeview, Ore., had the fastest run of the rodeo thus far, turfing his steer in 3.6 seconds to finish one-tenth of a second ahead of defending world champion Luke Branquinho of Los Alamos, Calif.

Greenfield said he was happy to get the win.

"This is the top 15, best in the world here and there's a reason they're here," he said. "You stub your toe, they're going to beat you. You've got to do your job every night you back in the box."

The WNFR will be televised nightly on ESPN Classic and ESPN2. At the conclusion of the 10th performance on Dec. 12th, the contestants with the highest earnings in each event will be crowned as the 2009 world champion.

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