Thouvenell qualifies for NFR, enters with world standings lead

Ethen Thouvenell not only qualified for the National Finals Rodeo but will also enter NFR with the lead in the world standings.

The 2012 rodeo year, exclusive of championships, ended Sept. 30. Thouvenell, the grandson of Fallbrook’s Jack Hampton and the son of Fallbrook’s Lesley Thouvenell, compiled $98,695 in earnings during the year. Fowler, Colorado, cowboy Wade Sumpter ranks second in the 2012 standings with $88,275 of earnings.

“If it was over right now it would be real nice, but it’s still another 10 days of rodeo,” Thouvenell said.

NFR will take place Dec. 6 to 15 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The 15 cowboys with the highest earnings in each event qualify for NFR. “You’ve got world champions among the top 15,” Thouvenell said. “You’ve got to go do your job.”

Thouvenell sealed his pre-NFR lead in the standings by earning $11,656 at the Sept. 27 to 29 Justin Boots Championships in Omaha, Nebr. He split fourth and fifth in the first go-round with a 4.7-second run to earn $1,470. His time of 6.5 seconds didn’t place in the second go-round, but his two-head average (aggregate) of 11.2 seconds was fourth to give him another $1,857.

His average also gave him entry into the semifinal round. The Justin Boots Championships utilized a progressive round format; the top eight in the average after the two go-rounds competed in the semifinal while the top four in the semifinal advanced to the final.

“It’s a pretty tough eight-man round,” Thouvenell said.

“Everybody wanted to make it back to the top four at that point,” Thouvenell said. “That was one of the toughest semifinal rounds I’ve ever seen.”

Thouvenell and Sumpter split first and second in the semifinal round with runs of 3.5 seconds, earning $5,416 apiece. Trevor Knowles of Mount Vernon, Ore., who enters NFR sixth in the world standings, had a time of 3.7 seconds to place third in the semifinals. K.C. Jones of Decatur, Texas, who finished the pre-finals season in 10th place, had a run of 3.8 seconds to capture fourth place in the semifinal.

Sumpter’s time of 3.7 seconds won the final round, Knowles was second at 3.9 seconds, and Jones had a third-place time of 4.0 seconds. Thouvenell was fourth with a run of 4.7 seconds, which earned him $2,913.

Lee Graves was Thouvenell’s hazer who guided the steer at Omaha, and Thouvenell utilized Graves’ horse Jesse. Thouvenell’s only previous NFR was in 2010; he used Graves as his hazer and rode Jesse.

Prior to the Justin Boots Championships Thouvenell won $5,193 at the Justin Boots Playoffs in Puyallup, Wash., Sept. 7 to 9. His run of 4.4 seconds took sixth place in the first go-round and earned $541, his time of 4.1 seconds placed second in the second go-round to add $2,705 to his earnings, and his two-head average of 8.5 seconds was worth third place and $1,947. The Justin Boots Playoffs also utilized a progressive round format, although Thouvenell did not place in the semifinal at Puyallup.

The Lewiston (Idaho) Roundup was also held Sept. 7 to 9, and Thouvenell added $1,731 to his earnings by splitting fifth and sixth place in the rodeo’s only go-round.

When Thouvenell competed at NFR in 2010 he won one go-round outright and shared the win in another go-round. He caught eight of 10 steers and finished 10th in the average. Thouvenell entered NFR 10th in the standings; his NFR earnings finalized his year-end position at ninth.

“You learn something the first time you go there,” Thouvenell said.

That includes mistakes as well as successes. “Hopefully I can change that,” Thouvenell said.

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