Smith earns share of Round 3 title

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Garrett Smith rides Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Evil Intensions for 90 points Saturday night to earn a share of the third go-round title.

LAS VEGAS The pressure-packed National Finals Rodeo can add a lot of stress to the 120 men and women that have earned the right to compete for the sport’s championship.

The purse is $1.4 million, and there are big checks paid out daily. If a contestant does not beat most of the people in the field, that person doesn’t get paid. The muscles tighten a little more, and the heart races.

Garrett Smith has been in this situation before. This is the bull rider’s fourth time to qualify for the NFR. On Saturday night, he rode Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Evil Intensions for 90 points to share the Round 3 victory with Kansan J.R. Stratford. In the process, Smith captured his first paycheck of this NFR, and it was worth $25,882.

“It’s going good now,” said Smith, who rodeo his first bull, United Pro Rodeo’s Happy Days, for 82.5 points but just missed out on a paycheck. “I’ve been more relaxed. You have to sit down and realize you work so hard to get here that we might as well have fun. We deserve to be here, so let’s go out and show what we can do.

“In the years prior, I felt like you always have to prove something. You have to do this; you have to do that. But if you just take a step back and realize that you deserve to be here, so now let’s have fun and make it happen, and it works out way better.”

It’s working. Though he bucked off on Night 2 – as did 13 other cowboys while trying to ride the eliminator pen of bucking bulls – he sits second in the aggregate with two rides for a cumulative score of 172.5 points. He is five points behind the average leader, Utahan Josh Frost.

“That was our eliminator pen, and it showed,” said Smith, 27, of Rexburg, Idaho. “I’m glad that is over with, but we still have another round of that. It’s going to work out great the next time.”

That attitude has been helpful. He knew a little bit about Evil Intensions before he mounted the red bull.

“I knew Creek (Young) got on him last year, and I think he won this round last year,” he said. “I was pretty excited, and the fact that he had a lot of up and down and went left … I was pumped. There’s no better feeling than one that goes up and down away from your hand.

“It’s great to score 90 points, but to go 90 here is just incredible.”


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