CALDWELL - They clinched a longtime goal, delivered a much-needed win and sent cowboys from disappointment to victory in a matter of minutes.
Saturday night's finals at the Caldwell Night Rodeo crowned seven event champions, and for many of the winners, their titles came at a good time.
Tie-down roper Cory Solomon has two of his three best horses sidelined with injuries and was 22nd in the PRCA world standings coming into Caldwell. But his winning time of 23.8 seconds on three head will be a big boost toward the National Finals Rodeo, which takes the top 15 in each event.
"It's a great rodeo to make a move at," said Solomon, who tied his calf in 7.6 seconds Saturday. " to win this rodeo is great for my confidence, because I've had an up-and-down season, yet I'm right outside the top 15."
Steer wrestler Jule Hazen is seeking his third trip to the NFR, and his first since 2010. He came into Caldwell ranked eighth in the world. His three-head time of 14.6 seconds, capped off by a 5.6-second run Saturday, topped all other cowboys by 0.7 seconds, and will in all likelihood clinch a return to Las Vegas in December.
"I've never had luck here," Hazen said. "I think this comes close to sealing it so I can go to the NFR and takes the pressure off. It's all I've wanted to do."
Winning in Caldwell may have boosted Solomon and Hazen toward the destination all cowboys hope to reach, Coleman Proctor and Matt Kasner were simply due to have something go their way.
The team ropers have only been working together a month after Proctor's partner broke his leg, and Kasner's broke his thumb. On Saturday, the pair took top honors with a 15.7-second time on three head for their first win together.
"As much bad luck we've had against us this summer, it was finally time for it to turn around," said Proctor, the team's header.
Chad Ferley had some bad luck thrown his way Saturday when the saddle bronc rider had a 65 on Younger Brother's Band. The horse was deemed to have not given enough of a challenge, so he was given the option of a re-ride.
That turned out to be a very good thing for Ferley, who got an 86 on Rain Dance for a total of 167 to claim his first CNR championship.
"It just makes you a little more tired," said Ferley, currently fifth in the world standings. "That was a really good horse. It worked out perfect, because that's what I needed to win."
With an 80 heading into Saturday's short round, four-time bareback bronc world champion Bobby Mote was five points behind leader Jessy Davis - "I figured I'd probably get fourth," he said.
Well, Mote did a little better than that. His 85 on Saturday was three points better than any other rider, with his 165 the best when all was said and done.
"The guys in the lead had a five-point advantage, so I had to make the most of this opportunity and leave the rest in their hands," Mote said.
Barrel racer Sherry Cervi, the No. 1-ranked rider in the world in her event, won with a combined time of 51.88 seconds, including a 17.04-second run Saturday, 1/100th of a second off the CNR record.
And as has been the trend recently, the bulls won Saturday - none of the eight bull riders in the finals held on for 8 seconds, the second straight year the rodeo has not had a successful Saturday ride. Including last year's CNR and July's Snake River Stampede, bull riders are 1-for-28 in the bull riding finals in the Canyon County rodeos.
Corey Granger, who scored an 88 on his first-round ride Wednesday, and therefore had the top score after Saturday's finals, is the bull riding champion.