By Lincoln Shryack
Inspired by 20-year-old Jess Lockwood and his impressive round one victory last night at the PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals in Las Vegas, we’re highlighting the rodeo young guns who are making the most noise in the professional ranks.
These cowboys are all 20 years old or younger, and each man has been among the very best in their respective disciplines in 2017. With these five leading the way, an exciting future awaits rodeo fans.
1. Jess Lockwood | 20 | Bull Riding
The youngster from Montana kicked off PBR’s main event on Wednesday with a 90.25 ride to win round one; he moved up to third in the PBR world standings. Although it was his first successful ride at World Finals after whiffing in 2016, the result comes as no surprise given Lockwood’s incredible season to date. In January, the 20-year-old — then 19 — won the season opener in New York City, and has since collected three more wins in the Built Ford Tough Series, quite the follow-up to a rookie of the year season from a year ago.
2. Ryder Wright | 19 | Saddle Bronc Riding
We highlighted the Utah teen earlier in the season as one of ProRodeo’s most improved, as Wright, like Lockwood, has been even better in his sophomore season after a stellar rookie campaign. Wright burst out of the gates at NFR 2016 by winning the first four rounds, ultimately propelling him to a fourth-place finish in the world standings. If the young gun rides like he did at NFR last season, this December could bring a gold buckle for the 19-year-old, as he’ll enter Las Vegas six spots higher than a year ago.
3. Koal Livingston | 19 | Bull Riding
Although PBR rookie Livingston has been understandably overshadowed by his fellow bull rider Lockwood, the 19-year-old Texan deserves a nod here for being the youngest rider at this year’s World Finals. Livingston currently sits in seventh in the rookie of the year race after collecting $52,214 in his first PBR campaign.
4. Boudreaux Campbell | 19 | Bull Riding
The PRCA rookie wasted no time in earning an NFR qualification to kick off his pro career. Campbell has picked up four PRCA-sanctioned wins in 2017 and heads to Vegas with more than $88,000 in his pocket. The Texas teen is the only PRCA rookie bull rider to qualify for National Finals Rodeo.
5. Cooper Martin | 20 | Tie-Down Roping
Martin deserves some “most improved” recognition of his own after qualifying for his first NFR in 2017. The Kansan roper was only 33rd in the 2016 standings, but Martin shot up to 14th this go-round after earning nearly $50,000 more compared to a year ago. With his $85,438 total from this breakout campaign, the 20-year-old has surpassed his previous career earnings before even arriving in Vegas.