LAS VEGAS – Cinch cowboy Tristen Hutchings new there was something special coming into the 2022 ProRodeo season.
He reeled off some big wins and earned his first qualification to the National Finals Rodeo. His first night competing inside the storied Thomas & Mack Center proved to be magical, and it looked like there was no end to the potential he possesses.
But rodeo doesn’t work like that, especially in bull riding. There are more ups and downs that are part of the game than just the bulls that buck. He was knocked to the ground the next three nights, and there were thoughts that fate might have a different path than what he had hoped.
“I was actually sick the first couple of rounds,” said Hutchings, 22, of Monteview, Idaho. “I’m really having a lot more fun now that I’m healthy. I’m really able to enjoy it.”
His joy returned on Round 5, when he rode Frontier Rodeo’s County Jail for 90.5 points to win the night. Two qualified rides; two round wins. Things were starting to look up again.
He made it three-for-three by scoring 88 points on Rocky Mountain Rodeo’s Caddyshack to win Tuesday’s sixth round. It provided the proof to everyone else that he was here to stay and was making a big impact in Sin City.
“It just keeps getting better,” said Hutchings, who has earned just shy of $100,000 in seven nights of competition at ProRodeo’s grand championship, pushing his season earnings to $227,756. “I’ve prepared for it, and it is nice to come in here and excel and doing my job well and drawing well.
“Of the bulls I have rode, the stock contractors are really good friends to me, so I’m glad we can all go to the South Point and hang out and have fun.”
Each night, the South Point Hotel and Casino hosts the Montana Silversmiths Go-Round Buckle Presentation, where winners are introduced to fans and are celebrated for their achievements. They also receive their round buckles and other prizes.
Hutchings proved his promise a year and a half ago when he won the intercollegiate national championship while riding at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, a community of nearly 6,000 people in southwest Texas, not far from the Mexico border.
He followed up his title by finishing second this past June at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming. Both those feats were amazing accomplishments, but competing at the NFR for the first time is always a dream come true.
“Getting out here and being treated like a professional athlete and paid like one, too, sure makes the grinding all year long and going through long days all worth it,” he said. “You just come in here and win as much money as you can. I was behind all year and made a good strive for it at the end (of the regular season).”
He has made a big move in Las Vegas, but the bull riding title likely will have to go through Utahan Stetson Wright, who has a commanding lead over the field with four nights left on the season.
“I plan to hit it hard next year and give Stetson a ride for his money,” Hutchings said.