Wrapping up the 2022 rodeo season, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) has crowned this year’s Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) average winners and world champions after 10 rounds of excitement at the Thomas & Mack Center!
In the event that kicked off the rodeo action every night, bareback riding, Jess Pope took home both the average win and his first world title. The 3-time qualifier from Kansas won four rounds (1, 2, 7 and 10), rounded out the 2022 NFR with 873 points and finished his season with $340,499 in earnings, regardless of the exceptional competition all the way down to 10th place in the world Rocker Steiner and many more!
While Kyle Irwin took home the average win in the steer wrestling, Tyler Waguespack left Las Vegas with his fourth world championship. Waguespack came into the 2022 NFR second in the world standings, but stayed consistent throughout the rodeo to come out on top, $2,692 ahead of Will Lummus in second.
The world champion team ropers were no stranger to winning, as they took home the 2021 world championship, and they came in hot and dominated at the 2022 NFR! Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira set a new single season earnings record with $340,708.23 each and broke nearly every regular season record in their event. The average winners were Tanner Tomlinson and Patrick Smith.
Both the average and the world title in the second roughstock event of the rodeo belong to Zeke Thurston, a now three-time world champion who won the fourth round and ended up with 876.5 points at the 2022 NFR. Saddle bronc riding was full of Canadian cowboys this year, so it seems fitting that Thurston, from Alberta, took home the wins.
For the second year in a row, Caleb Smidt absolutely rocked the Thomas & Mack with his drive and consistency. Smidt, now a four-time world champion, took home the average title, world championship, two round wins (1 and 2) and $374,736 in season earnings. He led the average race by 10.9 seconds and the world championship race by over $104,000.
Coming into the 2022 NFR, 2021 World Champion Jordon Briggs led the standings by over $50,000, followed by fan-favorite Dona Kay Rule. However, this year’s NFR average was won by Shelley Morgan; and the world title ultimately went to Hailey Kinsel and her horse Sister who came into the finals fifth in the world standings. Kinsel won four rounds and wrapped up the season with $302,172 in earnings.
Stetson Wright is so well-known for being an all-around cowboy that has taken the PRCA by storm, and that did not change this year! Stetson won the bull riding average and world championship, as well as the all-around championship by a long-shot. Not only that, but he set the single-season PRCA earnings record with $927,940, the all-around single season record with $758,829, the bull riding single season record with $592,144 and the NFR bull riding earnings record with $271,545.
Congratulations to this year’s best of the best in the sport of rodeo!
About the Author
Hannah Crandall, Originally from Earth, Texas, a small town in the Texas panhandle, I was raised around rodeo, agriculture, and the western lifestyle. With a degree from Texas A&M University, I have found a passion for promoting the lifestyle that made me who I am today. I am an experienced writer, marketer, and event professional with a strong desire to share the stories of those in our industry. When I’m not busy seeking out ways to promote the western way of life, I enjoy following those I care about around to rodeos, hunting, and going on runs with my blue-eyed, blue-merle Australian Shepherd.