GUNNISON, Colo. – When Tanner Butner designated 2020 to be his rookie campaign in ProRodeo, he had no idea what was in store.
A global pandemic hit, and his once promising season turned into a year of delays, cancelations and setbacks. Still, the saddle bronc rider sits No. 4 in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s rookie standings and has an outside chance to catch the leader, Iowan Riggin Smith.
“Winning the rookie was one of my goals this year, and I’ve been trying to get that done,” said Butner, 23, of Daniel, Wyoming. “This weekend’s helped me out quite a bit as far as that goes.”
Yes, it did. On Saturday night, Butner rode Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Dreamliner for 87.5 points to share the Cattlemen’s Days PRCA Rodeo bronc riding victory with 2017 world champion Ryder Wright, who posted the same score Friday. With that, both Butner and Wright each earned $2,003.
“I wanted to go ahead and make the finals this year, but I had a rough winter,” Butner said. “So, I just tried to get the rookie done.”
Only the top 15 in the world standings at the conclusion of the regular season advance to the National Finals Rodeo, and Butner entered the weekend 38th on the money list. Still, earning the elusive Rookie of the Year crown is quite prestigious in ProRodeo.
With struggles through the big events in the winter months, the Wyoming cowboy was left on the outside looking in. Throw in a greatly reduced rodeo schedule, and it was a steep climb that he was unable to traverse.
That’s why his ride Saturday night was so special. It inches him up the rookie standings, and he can still move up the list to catch Smith, who held a $12,000 lead heading into this week of rodeos.
“This year, I’ve just tried to stay as busy as possible,” Butner said. “I just find anything I could do to make extra money on the side to keep me rolling.”
With COVID-19 affecting so many aspects of daily life, the young cowboy understands how important it is to ride well when the opportunities allow.
“It’s been a dang good year to have a job,” he said with a laugh. “I think it’s pretty awesome what this community did to have a rodeo. I got to visit with one of the committee guys, and I know how much effort they put into it just to have a rodeo. I’m glad they did it; it’s a good deal for everybody.”
Cattlemen’s Days paid out a record $90,636 and featured many big names. In fact, the list of winners included contestants with multiple NFR qualifications, including world champions like Wright and heading titlist Levi Simpson. For Butner, it was nice to have his name in there and get on a great bucking horse in the process.
“Some of my buddies knew that horse and knew he was a pretty dang good one,” Butner said. “That’s a fun bugger. If you can beat them to the ground and pick them up a little, it helps them buck better and makes everything look a lot better. If you’re beating them back to the ground, it also feels 10 times better.”
So is earning a big win in the Colorado mountains.
Bareback riding: 1. (tie) Cole Reiner, on United Pro Rodeo’s Pow Wow Nights, and Orin Larsen, on Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s JBC Bent Rail Sourdough, 88 points, $1,923 each; 3. Wyatt Bloom, 87.5, $1,335; 5. Shane O’Connell, 85.5, $798; 5. Tim O’Connell, 85, $508; 6. (tie) Pascal Isabelle and Paden Hurst, 84.5, $327 each; 8. (tie) Donny Proffitt and Seth Hardwick, 82.5, $109.
Steer wrestling: 1. Jesse Brown, 3.7 seconds, $2,335; 2. Bridger Anderson, 3.8, $2,030; 3. Cody Devers, 3.9, $1,726; 4. Winston McGraw, 4.0, $1,421; 5. (tie) Cade Staton, Landon Beardsworth and Will Lummus, 4.1, $812 each; 8. (tie) Kodie Jang, Bill Glaunch and Dirk Tavenner, 4.2, $68.
Team roping: 1. (tie) Levi Simpson/Shay Carroll, Jake Cooper/Lane Mitchell and Aaron Tsinigine/Kyle Lockett, 4.5 seconds, $2,525 each; 4. Tanner Tomlinson/Brady Norman, 4.7, $1,931; 5. Matt Sherwood/Trey Yates, 4.9, $1,634; 6. J.B. James Jr./Brock Hanson, 5.2, $1,337; 7. Coleman Proctor/Ryan Motes, 5.3, $1,040; 8. Kellan Johnson/Carson Johnson, 5.4, $743; 9. Pedro Egurrola/Trevor Nowlin, 5.5, $446; 10. Clay Norell/Jesse Sheffield, 6.0, $149.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. (tie) Ryder Wright, on Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Flashcard Champ, and Tanner Butner, on Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Dreamliner, 87.5 points, $2,003 each; 3. Cody DeMoss, 86.5, $1,285; 4. Jacobs Crawley, 86, $831; 5. Shorty Garrett, 85, $529; 6. Tegan Smith, 84.5, $378; 7. (tie) Spencer Wright and Chase Brooks, 84, $265 each.
Tie-down roping: 1. Trampus Quarnberg, 8.6 seconds, $2,800; 2. (tie) Tyler Prcin and Ike Fontenot, 8.7, $2,252 each; 4. Marcos Costa, 9.0, $1,704; 5. Luke Potter, 9.1, $1,339; 6. Charlie Gibson, 9.3, $974; 7. Shad Mayfield, 9.5, $609; 8. (tie) Ty Harris and Caleb Smidt, 9.8, $122 each.
Barrel racing: 1. Shali Lord, 17.48 seconds, $1,769; 2. Nicole Drigggers, 17.50, $1,516; 3. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 17.64, $1,263; 4. (tie) Sherry Cervi and Lake Mehalic, 17.65, $969 each; 6. (tie) Brittany Barnett and Nicole Waggoner, 17.67, $590; 8. Megan Champion, 17.74, $337; 9. Emily Miller, 17.76, $253; 10. Lexie Goss, 17.87, $168.
Bull riding: 1. Ty Wallace, 87.5 points on Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Buck Jam, $2,961; 2. Roscoe Jarboe, 87, $2,270; 3. Chase Dougherty, 85.5, $1,678; 4. (tie) Cole Meloncon and Dustin Boquet, 85, $888 each; 6. Garrett Smith, 84.5, $494; 7. Brady Portenier, 84, $395; 8. Chance Ekins, 83.5, $296.