LAS VEGAS – The PRCA Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, kicks off tonight in Las Vegas. About 175, 000 are expected to attend attendance at a sold-out Thomas Mack Center over the 10-day run through December 14th. The small South Dakota town of Oelrichs has 1 cowboy and 1 cowgirl leading the South Dakota contingent to the Wrangler NFR. The two are barrel racer Lisa Lockhart and saddle bronc rider Chad Ferley, the 2006 world champion. The Oelrichs duo will make up the majority of South Dakota participants, joining young bronc rider Cole Elshere of Faith, who will be making his second consecutive NFR appearance. Injuries and the luck of the draw prevented other past NFR qualifiers from South Dakota from the event including saddle bronc riders Jesse Bail, who finished 20th in standings, and Chuck Schmidt who was 17th. Steer wrestlers Jake Rinehart who finished 17th, Todd Suhn, and bull rider Ardie Maier who was 31st also missed out on making the NFR Finals.
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