SALINAS, Calif. – Any chance team roping heeler Cory Petska had of making the 2021 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo hinged on his run Saturday.
Petska and his partner/header Derrick Begay had to win the second round of the ProRodeo Rodeo Tour Finale at California Rodeo Salinas.
Petska entered the ProRodeo Tour Finale 16th in the PRCA | RAM World Standings with $56,148. He trailed Caleb Hendrix, who is in the No. 15 spot in the world standings, by $1,652.
Petska is now back in the NFR mix as he and Begay won the round and they earned $2,300 each for their victory. Begay entered the ProRodeo Tour Finale 11th in the world standings with $68,593.
RELATED: PRCA | RAM World Standings
“I had to win Saturday and I just wanted to make sure I made a good catch,” Petska said. “I wanted to win some money and just do the best job I could. I wasn’t worried about the NFR. If I make it, I make it if I don’t, I don’t.”
The top eight team roping teams after the first two rounds at the ProRodeo Tour Finale advanced to the semifinals at 1 p.m. Sunday. The top four finishers in the semis will move into the four-team sudden-death finals.
“This was a huge win today,” Begay said. “We just went out there and made our run and now it is out of our hands. We did all we could. Our year ended today.”
Unfortunately for Begay and Petska, Petska roped a leg in the first round Thursday, which knocked them out of semifinal consideration.
Hendrix is roping with header Quinn Kesler, who is No. 13 in the world. Kesler/Hendrix were not competing at the ProRodeo Tour Finale. The PRCA regular season ends Sept. 30, but it ended Saturday for Petska.
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In Salinas, Petska was riding Raymond, a horse he borrowed from his uncle team roping heeler Monty Joe Petska, a 14-time NFR qualifier (1985-86, 1988-92, 1996-97, 1999-2001, 2003-2004).
“I rode that horse a few years ago and won Hermiston, Ore., on him,” Cory said. “From Pendleton (Ore.) I drove home to Bancroft, Wis., because we are shipping cattle. I wasn’t going to drive from Wisconsin to Salinas and my uncle only lives 60 miles from Salinas. I was mad at myself that I roped a leg in the first round. I should be in a better position than I am. The situation that I was in at least I came through and did my job.”
Petska has qualified for the NFR 15 times (2003-11, 2013-18), highlighted by him winning the PRCA Team Roping Heeler World Championship in 2017 with header Erich Rogers.
“We did what we had to do, and we will see how it goes,” said Begay about qualifying for the NFR with Petska.
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