February 16, 2017

Rodeo fans experienced a great night as THE AMERICAN Semi-Finals kicked-off in Ft. Worth yesterday.  Athletes from across the country are at the Cowtown Coliseum to compete in the Semi-Finals for nearly $1 million -- and the chance to advance to the finals on Sunday (Feb. 19) at AT&T Stadium.

Bull rider Cole Melancon scored 86.75 points on Dakota Rodeo’s bull 078, a crossbred that bucked and spun to the left just out of the chute. He earned $883 Wednesday morning in the preliminary round of bull riding. Wednesday night he doubled his winnings and will be back to ride Friday and take the final step to THE AMERICAN and a shot at the $1 million bonus.

A pair of young Oklahomans who have been making their presence known in team roping circles continued that trend Friday night. Blake Hughes and Brady Norman took the lead when they roped their steer in 4.61 seconds. The pair were virtually unknown in October when they won the National Finals of Team Roping U.S. Open Championship and $72,600. With a time under five seconds, they are virtually assured a chance to rope Friday night for a bigger slice of the semi-finals purse and a shot at THE AMERICAN’s $1 million bonus.

Isaac Diaz of Desdemona, a National Finals Rodeo and Elite Rodeo Association saddle bronc rider, knows what it’s like to ride at the world’s richest one-day rodeo. He did his best to return to the home of the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday by winning $1,343 with a score of 83.5 on C5 Rodeo’s horse 100 Proof.

Wyatt Bloom of Bend, Ore., topped the bareback riding with a score of 83.5 points on Mo Betta Rodeo’s Cache Creek. Bloom, who’s currently 20th in the PRCA standings, won $1,185.

The fastest barrel racer of the night was Kelsey Lutjen of Case Grande, Arizona, with a time of 13.804 seconds. Lutjen, a former college rodeo athlete with an agribusiness degree, won $3,604 and was one of three racers with times less than 14 seconds. Chris Martin of Brookston was second and Brianna Trepanier of Stephenville, who won more than $13,000 in Tuesday’s preliminary round was third.

Ryan Swayze of Freedom, Oklahoma, took the night’s round of steer wrestling earning $2,474 for a 4.82-second run and Timber Moore of Aubrey earned $2,982 with a 6.81 in tie-down roping.

The unique format of THE AMERICAN gives any contestant an opportunity to qualify for the semi-finals and earn a share of nearly $1 million at Cowtown Coliseum. Those who finish among the best in each event move on to AT&T Stadium.

Wednesday’s performance featured half of the top 20 semi-finalists in bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping and bull riding. The remaining half compete at 7:30 Thursday night with the top 10 in each event returning for a championship round Friday night. The top six in tie-down roping and the top 5 in the other events head to THE AMERICAN.

In barrel racing 178 riders competed Tuesday with the top 30 earning a spot at one of the three semi-finals performances. The 10 fastest times from those three performances will compete at AT&T Stadium Sunday.

Want to watch the Semi-Finals action? Join the Country Club now.

THE AMERICAN will air on RFD-TV, Country Club, RURAL RADIO channel 147 on SiriusXM and FamilyNet on Sunday (Feb. 19) at 2:00 ET.