GOODING, Idaho – With just six weeks left in ProRodeo’s regular season, cowboys are scrambling for their bids to advance to the National Finals Rodeo.
Only the top 15 on the money list in each event qualify for the sport’s grand finale, so they’re trying to cash in every where they go. In rodeo, money not only helps cover the expenses that come with traveling across the country chasing their gold buckle dreams, but dollars equal points. The contestants with the most money won at the end of the NFR will be crowned world champions.
The only way to earn that is to be at the championship at Las Vegas in December. Two steer wrestlers are in the midst of a big battle, but they’re at different ends of the spectrum. Cody Cabral sits 22nd in the bulldogging standings and is hoping to work his way into contention, while Ty Erickson is already set to compete at the NFR for the seventh time, sitting fifth.
On Saturday night, both cowboys stopped the clock in 3.7 seconds to finish in a four-way tie for third place at the Gooding Pro Rodeo. They each pocketed $2,496, which will come in handy.
“Right now, this means everything to me,” said Cabral, 33, a 2016 NFR qualifier from Hilo, Hawaii. “I’m outside of the top 15. I’m definitely trying to hunt down making the NFR, so every dollar means everything right now.”
For Erickson, he is in position to chase down his second world championship. He earned his first in 2019 and is pointing his attention toward a second Montana Silversmiths gold buckle.
“Every check counts this time of year,” said Erickson, 32, of Helena, Montana. “Even after the finals, it seems like it always comes down to a couple thousand dollars, so we’re going to every rodeo we can and win as much money as we can to give ourselves the best chance to win a gold buckle at the end of the year.”
The battle to be the best every year is often a game of inches, and that’s especially true in bulldogging. Cabral is seven spots out of the top 15, but he only trails the field by about $8,100. The money he earned in Gooding puts him a fourth of the way into the mix.
“Anybody in the top 50 can beat you on any given day,” he said. “It seems like the guys that get the good (steers) can win a lot, and you need to get through some hard steers and win on some difficult steers.”
Technique is the key in steer wrestling, but size does help when it comes to grappling large farm animals to the ground. Cabral is 6-foot-5 and weighs around 225; Erickson is 6-5 and 240. Another important attribute is to ride good horses that can get them to the steer in a hurry. Erickson has ridden top horses through much of his career, and he relied on a good one in Gooding that’s owned by fellow bulldogger Bridger Chambers.
Cabral’s is a different story.
“I’ve probably ridden close to 15 different horses this year,” he said. “I’ve been just showing up at rodeos and getting on the best ones. I rode (Tyler) Waguespack’s (Saturday). There are just so many great guys that let me on some of the best horses going, so it’s been great.”
Of course, making their way to this community of 3,500 is always a big deal every August.
“For being such a small town, this is one of the coolest rodeos we go to all year just because of the atmosphere,” Erickson said. “They pack the stands every night, and they like to have a good time.”
It just makes it all that much better for the cowboys that make their livings in the game they love.
“It’s a great energy,” Cabral said. “They’re just having a great time and bring a lot of energy here. It really gets you pumped up and makes for a better competition.”
Gooding Pro Rodeo
All-around cowboy: 1. Stetson Wright, $4,529 in saddle bronc riding and bull riding.
Bareback riding: 1. Caleb Bennett, 89.5 points on Summit Pro Rodeo’s Game Trail, $4,371; 2. Bronc Marriott, 86.5, $3,351; 3. Tim O’Connell, 85.5, $2,677; 4. (tie) Cooper Cooke and R.C. Landingham, 85, $1,311; 6. Cole Reiner, 84.5, $729; 7. Jess Pope, 83, $583; 8. Dean Thompson, 82.5, $437.
Steer wrestling: 1. Stan Branco, 3.2 seconds, $2,952; Bridger Anderson, 3.5, $3,536; 2. (tie) Trell Etbauer, Cody Cabral, Ty Erickson and Connor McKell, 3.7, $2,496 each; 7. Cash Robb and Tanner Brunner, 3.8, $1,248 each; 9. (tie) Gavin Soleau and Tristan Martin, 3.9, $416 each.
Team roping: 1. Tanner Tomlinson/Patrick Smith, 4.0 seconds, $5,001; 2. Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira, 4.4, $4,474; 3. Luke Brown/Hunter Koch, 4.6, $3,948; 4. (tie) Pace Freed/Cole Wilson and Joshua Torres/Jonathan Torres, 5.0, $3,158; 6. $2,369; 7. Brodi Jones/Jason Warner, 5.4, $1,842; 8. Wyatt Murray/Whitt Crozier, 5.9, $1,316; 9. Jade Anderson/Zackery Lyle Lewis, 7.1, $790; 10. Jade Stoddard/Matt Williams, 7.5, $263.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Stetson Wright, 88 points on Summit Pro Rodeo’s Dry Creek, $4,625; Kolby Wanchuk, 87.5, $3,546; 3. Isaac Diaz, 84, $2,621; 4. (tie) Tegan Smith, Chase Brooks, Dawson Dahm and Jack Bentz, 83, $1,041; 8. Jacobs Crawley, 82.5, $462.
Tie-down roping: 1. Matt Shiozawa, 7.6 seconds, $6,028; 2. (tie) Ladd King, Ty Harris and Brayden Roe, 8.1, $4,759 each; 5. Kincade Henry, 8.3, $3,490; 5. Cole Eiguren, 8.4, $2,855; 7. John Douch, 8.5, $2,221; 8. Marcos Costa, 8.6, $1,586; 9. (tie) Jared Parks and Shane Hanchey, 8.7, $635 each.
Breakaway roping: 1. Taylor Hanchey, 2.2 seconds, $5,753; 2. (tie) Shelby Boisjoli, Carley Christian and Mattie Turner, 2.3, $3,739 each; 5. Brooke Winward, 2.4, $2,301; 6. Candida Eldridge, 2.5, $1,726; 7. (tie) Josey Murphy, Kindee Kananen and Janey Reeves, 2.6, $1,294 each; 10. (tie) Shelby Logan, Beau Peterson and Shelly Scrivener, 2.7, $863; 13. (tie) Italy Sheehan, Braylee Shepherd and Bailey Patterson, 2.8, $431 each.
Barrel racing: 1. Michelle Darling, 16.88 seconds, $4,251; 2. Ivy Saebens, 16.89, $3,401; 3. Stevi Hillman, 16.93, $2,763; 4. Anita Ellis, 16.95, $2,125; 5. Meka Farr, 16.98, $1,700; 6. Ashley Castleberry, 17.02, $1,275; 7. Nicole Driggers, 17.07, $1,063; 8. Tarryn Lee, 17.09, $956; 9. Macee McAllister, 17.10, $850; 10. Jennifer Kalafatic, 17.12, $744; 11. Cheyenne Allan, 17.15, $638; 12. (tie) Shelley Morgan, Marcie Wilson and Cheyenne Wimberley, 17.18, $425 each; 15. Lauren Butler, 17.20, $213.
Bull riding: 1. Gavin Michel, 89 points on Macza Pro Rodeo’s Ugly Wish, $4,089; 2. Garrett Smith, 86, $3,135; 3. Josh Frost, 84.5; 4. (tie) Dawson Gleaves and Shane Proctor, 82.5, $1,227 each; 6. (tie) Jordan Spears and Hayes Weight, 82, $613 each; 8. (tie) Stetson Wright and Cole Fischer, 79.5, $204 each.