Hailey Kinsel

Hailey Kinsel, of Cotulla, Texas, won the barrel racing on Friday night with a time of 13.4 seconds to clinch her first world title. 

LAS VEGAS — Tyler Waguespack knew he had a long climb ahead of him if he wanted to win a second PRCA world steer wrestling championship.

The likable Louisiana cowboy started the National Finals Rodeo in 10th place when professional rodeo’s biggest event started on Dec. 6.

“I never came to the finals this far down,” Waguespack said. “We were able to start off with a bang, we kept it rolling and kept moving up the standings.”

Waguespack won the first round and kept putting down steers to win the average and win his second world title in three years.

Waguespack earned an event-best $180,429 during the NFR and finished with $260,013 for the year.

“This feels just as good as the first,” Waguespack said. “We worked hard all year and it paid off.”

The 10th and final round Saturday night at the Thomas and Mack Center determined the 2018 year-end world champions.

Waguespack clinched the average and world title with a solid 5.1-second run in the 10th round.

“Not really,” he said of doing the math prior to the round. “I knew after the ninth round if I could go in and win the average that the world title would take care of itself. I was just making sure to go out there and make a good, solid run in the last round and get the job done.”

Tim O’Connell won his third consecutive bareback title, while Clay Smith and Paul Eaves are the world champion team ropers. Wade Sundell won his first world saddle bronc title by $18,000.

Some events were not yet complete at press time.

Bridger Chambers of Butte finished second in the average and second in the world steer wrestling standings after competing at his first NFR.

The former Montana Western basketball player won $135,583 at the NFR and $216,761. And he already has plans for his new earned money.

“I’ve got bills to pay,” Chambers said with a grin.

Chambers and Ty Erickson of Helena shared second place in the 10th round, both putting up back-to-back times of 4.6 seconds. Erickson won seventh in the world standings with $170,879. He won $91,217 at the NFR.

Chase Tryan of Helena and partner Bubba Buckaloo shared fourth place in the final round of team roping for another $8,884. The pair won $105,967 each at the NFR. Tryan was fifth in the team roping heading standings, while Buckaloo was sixth for headers.

Clay Tryan of Billings and Travis Graves were 5.1 seconds but did not place. The two won $25,794 at the NFR. Tryan — a three-time world champion — finished 12th for headers, while Graves was 13th for heelers.

Sundell, of Boxholm, Iowa, won an event best $177,326 among the saddle bronc riders and $280,636 for the year.

Chase Brooks of Deer Lodge finished ninth in the final world standings at his first NFR. Brooks earned $92,500 in Las Vegas.

Brody Cress, of Hillsdale, Wyoming, did not place in a round during the NFR and was 12th in the world standings.

Hailey Kinsel won a lot of money in 2018, setting the single-seasons earning record. It was enough money to clinch her first world barrel racing title by the ninth round on Friday night.

And a small portion of that money came when she called Montana home this past summer.

“I stayed in Montana in August and early September,” said the Texas cowgirl.

Kinsel set up camp at the Copper Spring Ranch in Bozeman. “I like to joke that I camp at home and live in my trailer,” she said.

During that stretch in the Big Sky State, she placed at six rodeos, including wins at Baker and Plains. Coupled with her win at Red Lodge during the Fourth of July run, Kinsel earned $7,849 in Montana, which would have put her sixth in the Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit standings.

Email Joe Kusek at joe.kusek@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @GazSportsJoe

Sports writer at the Billings Gazette

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