Texas Rodeo Champ Falls Just Short of Seizing $1 Million Prize in Nail-Biting Showdown

Published 10/09/2023, 1:31 PM EDT

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The PBR is often hosting events and contentions for the rodeo aspirants awaiting to find ground. After successfully launching the Challenger and the Team Series, PBR has now joined hands with yet another entertainment entity; World Champions Rodeo Alliance (WCRA). The WCRA started in 2018, aimed at boosting the sport and developing newer opportunities for everyone involved; from contenders to fans.

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For its fifth anniversary, WCRA hosted its annual Triple Crown of Rodeo with $5 Million in purse. The event, spread out over three different venues, was scheduled to offer a $1 million bonus to the champion on the last leg. Inching closer with every contest, the Desdemona, Texas, cowboy was in for a thrill ride on Sunday at Carolina. However, to the community’s dismay, the tempting stakes weren’t to fall in the hands of the speculated rodeo champion over a thrilling contest.

Victory snatched from the rodeo champ

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TCR Series, which was presented by Lazy E Ranch and Arena, hosted the season across three areas; Fort Worth, Corpus Christi, Texas, and Mill Spring, North Carolina. The Saddle Bronc rider, Issac Diaz was on a winning streak through the second part of the series. In Fort Worth, the 37-year-old rode atop Painted J earning 86 points in the finals. And then pushing through the 10 contestants in Corpus Christi, Diaz won his second title. But the most interesting of all was the final stop at Carolina.

The prize offered for the night was marked at $400,000. However, with an interesting addition, Issac upon winning his third TCR season event would get his hands on the $1 million prize. But as the rider entered Tryon International, his rival stood out to be a 20-year-old Texas Cowboy; hindering his chances to write history.

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Gus Gaillard, the 20-year-old champion, setting foot first on the ground earned a score of 86 points. Diaz, in for a massive stake, needed a score higher. He entered the riding arena atop Awesome Sauce. But failing to score a big one on the beast, Diaz ended with 81 points that eliminated him from the TCR and eventually from getting his hands on the anticipated prize, reported PBR.

If Diaz had emerged on top for the evening, he would only be the second one to win the massive amount trailing behind bareback rider RC Landingham. Though the night ended in disappointment for the Texas Cowboy, the venue held no shortage of entertainment for the audience.

Video: Non-American Rodeo Sensation Nick Tetz Stuns with 89.5-Point Bull Riding Triumph

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Enthusiasts forced to the edge of the seats at WCRA final leg

The opening event for the TCR final started off by three renowned bareback riders; Mason Clements, Leighton Berry, and Chad Rutherford. The three emerged dominant on the field after yielding 85 point rides in their previous feats. Going in, the bareback riders were in contention for a prize of $15,000 and neither seemed to back down. Continuing on the same stance, it was a win for two of the riders. Clements and Berry, who tied up for 86-point rides, were both declared the winners; taking home the sum and the title.

As for the team roping, header Marcus Theriot and heeler Cole Curry knew the best. The duo together completed their stellar run at 5.97 compared to the 9.87-second run by the runner-ups, Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins; earning their second consecutive position at TCR.

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Coming to the Steer Wrestling, Tory Johnson was unstoppable. The rider earned a 3.75-second; pushing him right to the top. With total earnings of $15,000, Tory ended 8th amongst the earners. While Maelee Wade earned the highest of the night, $25,850.00 for Breakaway Roping, the speculated champ was outed off the chart. “A million dollars would be life-changing for most people who rodeo, definitely including me,” Diaz said talking to PBR. “My goals for 2023 were to put myself in a position to win a world title, and to win the Triple Crown.” However, settling down, the 37-year-old has built a beautiful family for himself and continues to aim at climbing up the PBR standings.

Watch this story: Rodeo Championship Unveils Star-Studded Roster for Epic Showdown

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Written by:

Shivatmika Manvi

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Shivatmika Manvi is a US Sports writer at Essentially Sports. Having recently attained her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communication, Shivatmika aims to tread her way forward into journalism. Further, the writer’s eager enthusiasm toward the world of track and field stems from her family’s loyal viewership of the Olympics, and years later, her passion continues/stands.
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Edited by:

Suman Varandani

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