LAS VEGAS – Silver and gold, emblazoned with a red Wrangler National Finals Rodeo logo, the 10th go-round bareback riding buckle had already found its rightful place on Tanner Aus’ belt.
“I’m already wearing it,” said Aus, a first-time NFR qualifier from Granite Falls, Minn., who shared the 10th-round championship with Tim O’Connell and Steven Peebles after the trio posted 83.5-point rides Saturday in Las Vegas. “I put it right on.”
Aus earned the right by matching moves with Wayne Vold Rodeo’s Mucho Dinero on the final night of the 10-day championship to conclude an amazing season. With that, he added $20,872 to his pocketbook and pushed his season earnings to $169,416. He placed in just three go-rounds but also placed sixth in the average with a 10-ride cumulative score of 767 points.
In all, the 2012 intercollegiate champion at Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Mo., earned nearly $74,000 in Sin City.
“I haven’t even thought about the money at all, but that’s going toward retirement,” said Aus, who considered his 10 days in the Nevada desert as another learning experience. “You’ve got to slow down when you get here and enjoy it.
“Now all the bareback riders are packing up their stuff. It’s over. We make it our home in the locker room. It’s sad now.”
That may be because the 10 days and ProRodeo’s championship goes fast. There’s a lot of activity in Las Vegas during the week and a half. But part of it is because he didn’t cash in until the fifth round, so he compiled most of his earnings in the final week of the competition. He got a big push on his final ride on the Canadian bucking horse.
“I just knew he was good, and everybody told me he was a lot of fun,” he said. “(Fellow bareback rider) Caleb Bennett told me to set my feet as hard as I could, and it would just get better.
So was Aus’ 2015 season. He ended the campaign with 169,417 in earnings, good enough for sixth place in the world standings. He’s not ready for it to end.
“The good news is, the books (for the next few rodeos) open Monday,” Aus said. “I’m ready.”