Tilden Hooper expected better when he got to Las Vegas last December for the 2011 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
The Carthage, Texas, cowboy had a strong season, earning his third qualification to the NFR. But he suffered an injury over the summer, the re-aggravated it in August. He didn’t return to action until the NFR, and, honestly, it showed.
Hooper looked rusty and out of sync. He placed in two go-rounds, but earned just $8,942.
If Thursday night is evidence, Hooper has his rhythm back. The 24-year-old cowboy scored 86 points on Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Free Fall to win the first round of bareback riding on opening night of the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. He earned $1,965.
There’s a real good chance Hooper could earn more money in San Antonio than he did in Las Vegas. He’ll need it if he plans to play for the world title this coming December.