LAS VEGAS – Cole Melancon is the standout so far when it comes to the five rookie bull riders competing at the 59th Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, presented by POLARIS Ranger, at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Liberty, Texas, product has gone 3-for-5 through the first five rounds and shared the Round 3 win with reigning PRCA champion Sage Kimzey by riding Hot And Ready for 91.5 points.
“Half of it is you and half is the bull,” Melancon said. “The bull was really good and went to the left, and was real showy, and blew up in the air; and I rode the jump-kick and stayed in the center.”
After a buckoff in Round 1, Melancon would ride Chopstick Cigarette for 78.5 points in Round 2 for sixth place and $4,231.
“This is my first time here and my first win,” Melancon said after Round 3. “To ride one last night calmed my nerves a bit, and then to get a 91.5 is awesome and something I’ll never forget for sure. This is the biggest stage in rodeo, and to be a 91.5 at the Super Bowl is a great feeling.”
Melancon rides with a positive mindset.
“It’s a big confidence-booster and pretty much gives the mindset that you’re going to ride anything they put under you no matter what, and you are the king and on top of the hill,” Melancon said. “It gives you that extra confidence.”
Melancon was proud to split his first career round win at the NFR with the best bull rider in the PRCA.
“Sage is known as one of the greatest bull riders going, and I see myself as one of the greatest ones to be here too,” Melancon said. “But to split it with Sage, it’s a great feeling to be able to do it at my first NFR and be in the 90s.”
In Round 5 on Monday, Melancon would add a second-place finish after a successful ride on Johnny Cash for 86.5 points and $21,578. Including a $10,000 qualifier bonus and $48,442 in WNFR earnings, the Team USA PBR Global Cup member now ranks sixth in the PRCA standings, which is two spots higher from where he was sitting before the start of the year-end event.
Brennon Eldred is 0-for-5 and, according to the Justin Sports Medicine team, went under further evaluations Tuesday morning after sustaining a concussion in Round 5. Eldred has slipped to No. 13 in the PRCA standings. Canada’s Jordan Hansen is 1-for-5 after catching a check worth $6,769 in Round 2 for placing fifth. Hansen ranks No.10 in the standings at $109,429 on the year.
Sage Kimzey leads the way in the PRCA standings with $318,652 on the season so far, while Garrett Smith is second at $253,797.
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