Utahns leading at National Finals Rodeo

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LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Canadian Lindsay Sears took the lead in the season barrel racing standings Friday night, winning for the fifth time in nine rounds in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

The Alberta cowgirl won with a run of 13.81 seconds, earning $16,394 to push her season total to $104,711. Sears also leads all 118 competitors in NFR earnings. The event record is $126,932, set by Janet Stover in 2001. The most money won in any event is $142,644 by bull rider B.J. Schumacher in 2006.

"Everybody is riding a first-place horse, and for Martha (her horse) to come out and be on fire, it's just unbelievable," Sears said. "She has a spark in her that is really indescribable, and it's really her. She is doing it every night.

"I'm just trying to show up and stay out of her way every night. She has just been awesome, and I'm so thankful for her."

Previous world standings leader Brittany Pozzi-Pharr of Victoria, Texas, who has earned $210,794, tied for fifth in 14.02 during the ninth round. Pozzi-Pharr still leads the NFR aggregate standings with a time of 126.25 over nine rounds.

In bareback riding, event aggregate score standings leader Will Lowe of Canyon, Texas, increased his lead by winning the ninth round with a score of 86 on Gorgeous Connie. Three-time world champion Lowe leads the aggregate with nine successful rides for 754.5 points, while Justin McDaniel of Porum, Okla., was second with 743.5 points.

"My goal is to win every time, and with the field of guys we have that's not going to happen," Lowe said. "But things have been working well, and we've still got another round and almost $17,000 to win (in the round) tomorrow. So, we'll look at the average (aggregate) when it's all said and done."

McDaniel, who didn't place among the top six Friday, remained second in the season standings at $151,946. World standings leader Bobby Mote of Culver, Ore., was sixth with an 81 on Oakey Robin. He had earned $190,128.

In bull riding, Wesley Silcox of Payson, Utah, won with an 86.5 on Vertical Exit. The victory put him in the NFR aggregate standings lead with 504.5 points on six bulls.

Kanin Asay of Powell, Wyo., placed second with an 80 on Mortachi to push his season total to $178,669. B.J. Schumacher of Hillsboro, Wis., is the world leader with $181,492, but he was one of 12 riders who were bucked off during the ninth round.

In steer wrestling, Luke Branquinho of Los Alamos, Calif., won his first 2007 NFR round in a time of 3.2 seconds and stayed in contention for a world title. Canada's Lee Graves, fourth in 3.8 seconds, remained in the world standings lead with $150,600. Wade Sumpter of Fowler, Colo., who tied for second with Matt Reeves of Pampa, Texas, in 3.6 seconds, was second in the world standings with $135,286. Branquinho was third with $135,286.

In team roping, Colter Todd of Marana, Ariz., and Cesar de la Cruz of Tucson, Ariz., won in 4.1 seconds. The win allowed de la Cruz to take over the world standings lead for heelers with $145,163, while Walt Woodard of Stockton, Calif., falls into second with $143,285.

"I just have to rope one more round, and that's all I have to think about," de la Cruz said. "Let the chips fall where they may."

Trevor Brazile of Decatur, Texas, increased his first-place, record-setting total in all-around to $391,004 for 2007 by recording a third-place time of 4.4 seconds in team roping with heeler Patrick Smith of Midland, Texas. Brazile clinched the all-around title during the eighth round and came here with the steer roping title. Brazile was first in the tie-down roping world standings with $175,640, while Houston Hutto of Del Rio, Texas, was second with $156,027.

In tie-down roping, Stran Smith of Childress, Texas, won the ninth round in 7.2 seconds. Aggregate standings leader Cody Ohl of Hico, Texas, placed sixth in 9.2 and now has a nine-head total of 76.80 compared to runner-up Brazile with nine in 86.30. Ohl is going after the record of 84.0 seconds on 10 head set by Fred Whitfield in 1997.

In saddle bronc riding, Taos Muncy of Corona, N.M., won the ninth round with an 86.5 on Blood Brother.

Cody Wright of Milford, Utah, fifth with an 82.5 on Drop Out, has $173,081 and the world standings lead. Canada's Rod Hay, third with an 83 on Black Bart, was well ahead in the aggregate with 740 points on nine horses, followed by Cody DeMoss of Heflin, La., with 643 points on eight.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-12-14-07 2240MST

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