By: Gretchen Kirchmann
The Great Lakes Circuit is being represented by seven cowboys including three bareback riders, two saddle bronc riders and a pair of team ropers. Leading the pack is 2018 World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider Wade Sundell with his ninth qualification, and nearly two million dollars in career earnings. Wade enters the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) at 36 years-old and hails from Boxholm, Iowa with back number #118. Two other contestants call the Hawkeye state home with Sundell. Zwingle, Iowa is sending 3x World Champion Tim O’Connell at 30-year-old and wearing back number #9. O’Connell is qualifying for his eighth WNFR and has won nearly two million dollars in career earnings. First-time WNFR qualifier Tegan Smith from Winterset, Iowa is 23-years-old and wearing back number #111. Smith from John Wayne’s hometown joined the PRCA in 2018.
Tanner Aus from Granite Falls, Minnesota is making his sixth trip the WNFR. The 31-year-old bareback rider is wearing back number #72. Aus is a million-dollar cowboy with career earnings of $1,154,952. Aus won the 2021 Great Lakes Circuit Finals qualifying him for the NFR Open (former RAM National Circuit Finals). in early 2022. The number two bareback rider in the world is Jess Pope from Waverly, Kansas. Pope is making his second trip to the WNFR. Last year in 2020 we won the Bareback Riding average title by scoring the most points on ten-head of horses at the WNFR. Pope is 23-year-old and wearing back number #30. Team Ropers Coy Rahlmann from Ellsinore Missouri and Douglas Rich from Herrick, Illinois are making their first WNFR appearance. Rahlmann/Rich purchased their PRCA cards in 2019. Rahlmann is just 20 years old and his partner, Rich and him earned $138,076 in 2021. Rich is 26 years old and wearing back number #98.
Images provided by ProRodeo