National Finals Rodeo • But Wright faces stern challenge in final round.
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Las Vegas • There will be the equivalent of a winner-take-all Game 7 at the 2010 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Milford's Cody Wright will participate.
Wright finished out of the money in the saddle-bronc event during Round 9 at the NFR on Friday night at Thomas & Mack Center.
Still, Wright maintained a slim lead in the world championship standings, with total earnings of $188,829.
But Wade Sundell, of Boxholm, Iowa,, who has pocketed $188,237 this season, finished tied for second in the ninth round.
He inched ahead of Wright in the battle for the NFR average title.
On nine horses, Sundell has posted a total score of 761.5.
On his nine horses, Wright has a total of 760.
The bottom line?
The winner of the Wright-Sundell showdown during Saturday night's final round will almost certainly win the average title and, with it, the 2010 world championship.
"It's a little nerve-racking," Wright said. "But I'm just going to come out like I have been. I'm just going to make the best ride I can and, hopefully, that's good enough to come out on top."
In Round 9, Wright posted a score of 78.5 on Painted Brush, one of the most challenging bucking horses in rodeo.
"He jumped out of there and he started moving away from me," Wright said. "I didn't get things rolling very well or very fast.
"It was an eliminator pen tonight, and that horse is dang sure an eliminator. I guess we'll just roll on and hope tomorrow goes good."
Meanwhile, in bull riding, Santaquin's Wesley Silcox had his biggest night at the NFR.
Silcox posted a score of 90 and won the ninth round.
His paycheck of $17,512 bumped his season total to $182,019.
Silcox is second in the world standings, a little more than $12,000 behind J.W. Harris, of Mullin, Texas.
Utah's other four NFR participants fared well in Round 9, too.
In bareback, Payson's Kaycee Feild continued an outstanding NFR showing by placing second.
Feild posted a score of 85.5 points and earned another $13,840. He has pocketed $76,591 at the NFR more than any bareback rider.
Feild's runner-up finish in the ninth round enabled him to jump from seventh to fourth in the world standings, with $150,739.
Feild trails bareback leader Steven Dent, of Mullen, Neb., by a little more than $18,000.
In barrel racing, Kelli Tolbert, of Hooper, finished fifth in 13.81 seconds.
She earned $4,518, pushing her NFR total to $59,879 and her season bankroll to $132,240 good for fifth in the world standings.
In saddle bronc, Jesse Wright finished in a four-way tie for second.
The younger brother of Cody Wright, he earned $9,038 despite again competing on a left ankle he fractured on opening night.
In bull riding, Payson's Steve Woolsey finished fifth behind Silcox with a score of 83.5.
Competing with a separated shoulder, Woolsey pocketed $4,519 and bumped his NFR total to $11,862.