The Reno (Nev.) Rodeo has been kind to steer wrestler J.D. Struxness over the years. He captured the coveted Silver Spurs back in 2019, which propelled him to this third Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
He hopes 2023 will bring the same fortune after he claimed his second Reno Rodeo title on Saturday night in front of sellout crowd of over 9,000. Struxness came into the finals sitting second in the average, fourth tenths of a second behind Olin Hannum.
The Milan, Minn., cowboy didn’t let that faze him as he laid down a 4.5-second run, which was good enough to win the rodeo with 12.8 seconds on three head. He said he knew exactly what type of steer he had drawn in the finals and let the rest take care of itself.
“The crowd at this rodeo is always fun and they pack this place on Saturday night,” said Struxness, a four-time Wrangler NFR qualifier. “We knew I had a good steer coming into the short round. So, I knew I had to come out and take care of business. It’s always really nice to get a win and it’s even better when it’s at a place like Reno.”
Struxness was quick to credit the horse he was riding, a mount on Clayton Haas’ horse Benz, which finished second in the running for the Nutrena Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year a season ago.
“I had the chance to ride Clayton Haas’ horse Benz tonight. It sure gives a guy a lot of confidence getting to ride a good horse like that,” he said. “Our game plan was to make sure we got out of the barrier clean and make a good run. Then you just have to let it fall where it is after that. You have to make the guy behind you do his job and it just ended up working out in my favor tonight.”
In total, Struxness pocketed over $17,000 for his three runs, placing in all three rounds of competition. It’s a win like this that can carry a contestant to the NFR with the all-important Cowboy Christmas run right around the corner.
“This gives me a ton of momentum honestly,” Struxness said. “It’s the beginning of the summer run right before the Fourth of July. It was a big and important win here in Reno, where you had to do it on three steers. Now, I can go rolling into the month of July, where we will go to some big rodeos that are important. It gives you that head of steam to roll on.”
Other winners at the $696,442 rodeo were all-around cowboy Josh Frost ($10,984, bull riding and tie-down roping), bareback rider Cole Reiner (251 points on three head); team ropers Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira (18.4 seconds on three head); saddle bronc rider Statler Wright (252 points on three head); tie-down roper Shad Mayfield (25.8 seconds on three head); breakaway roper Shelby Boisjoli (7.5 seconds on three head); barrel racer Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi (51.35 seconds on three runs); and bull rider Colton Kelly (168 points on two head).
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