Tanner Brunner has had just a taste of the National Finals Rodeo over the previous two seasons.
Though things in Las Vegas didn’t go as he had hoped or expected – he has placed three times out of 20 rounds and earned $28,629 – he has a distinct hunger to return. Truth is, he’s earned his way there in two straight seasons when most steer wrestlers dream of reaching the grandest stage in the game one time in their careers.
He’s making a statement as ProRodeo has returned on a smaller scale this month. In fact, he earned a share of the victory at two rodeos this past weekend: He and Gabe Soileau threw down their steers in 3.7 seconds to earn the title in Coleman, Texas, while Brunner and Trell Etbauer were 3.8 to claim the crown in Woodward, Oklahoma.
For that, Brunner pocketed $5,191 and moved his season earnings to more than $26,000. He sits eighth in the world standings with a great deal of time left on the interrupted 2020 campaign. How much time is left in the season remains in the air; the typical year rolls Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, but this season is anything but typical.
Some speculate whether the season will end as scheduled or be extended into, or possibly, through October.
Nonetheless, the second weekend in June offered a big opportunity for Brunner, 27, of Ramona, Kansas. The weekend before, Brunner won the title in Mesquite, Texas, pocketing $1,077 in the process.
It’s a solid re-start to his 2020 campaign, but it’s also something he needs. Last year, he earned just shy of $75,000 through the regular season and qualified for the 15th and final spot in Las Vegas. As many rodeos have been canceled or delayed because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, questions remain about what kind of money it will take to qualify for the NFR this year.
For Brunner, he’ll take everything he can get.