Everybody in the sport knows the race for the world championship comes down to the final 10 days of any season at the National Finals Rodeo.
That’s especially true this year in bareback riding, where only $57,021 separates first place to 15th place. In an event with a $1.4 million payout, the man at the bottom of the list could pass No. 1 in two nights. Go-round winners will collect nearly $29,000 a day for 10 nights in Las Vegas.
Resistol cowboy Cole Reiner of Buffalo, Wyoming, leads the race with $160,971, but four other Resistol bronc busters are right there close: Jess Pope is second, just $1,711 behind; Caleb Bennett sits third with $147,290; and Rocker Steiner is fourth. There is less than $27,000 separating Reiner and Steiner.
“At the end of the regular season, these standings don’t matter, but it’s kind of fun to see where everyone’s at and give everyone a hard time,” Reiner said. “Going into the National Finals Rodeo is going to be one of the most exciting races. I don’t remember when it was this close.”
The Wyoming cowboy has been magnificent. He closed out 2021 last December in Las Vegas, where earned just shy of $92,000 and finished the campaign seventh in the world standings. He didn’t stand idly by, though. Within a week, he was off to his winning ways by claiming the championship at the Chase Hawks Roughstock Rodeo in Billings, Montana.
The wins continued. In fact, he earned 11 titles, with big wins coming in Cody, Wyoming; Sheridan, Wyoming; Casper, Wyoming; Clovis, California; and Kennewick, Washington. That’s a key reason why he collected the bonus for being the top dog heading into the NFR.
At a point in the late-summer run, Reiner was in the middle of a three-man race to see who was going to be No. 1 each week when the standings were released by the PRCA. It made it fun for the contestants as they battled at rodeos across North America.
For Reiner, though, he’s shown the promise many expected of him when he was named the 2020 Bareback Riding Resistol Rookie of the Year. That same season, he earned the right to compete at the NFR during it’s one-year home at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, during the Pandemic. He finished that campaign fifth in the world standings.
He returned to the NFR a year ago, so this makes it three in a row for him. That serves as a statement of facts concerning the extensive talent he possesses. Besides the others in the top four, Reiner will be joined in Sin City by two other Resistol bareback riders, Leighton Berry and Clayton Biglow.