Anderson earns first NFR check

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Bridger Anderson grabs ahold of his steer en route to a 4.7-second run, which was good enough for fourth place in Sunday’s third round of the National Finals Rodeo.

LAS VEGAS Bridger Anderson has found his rhythm at the National Finals Rodeo.

After suffering two no-times to kickstart ProRodeo’s grand championship, he bounced back with a 4.7-second run to finish fourth in Sunday’s third go-round, pocketing $12, 877 and earned some well-timed momentum in Las Vegas.

“It’s not the way we wanted to start the finals, but we were getting good starts,” said Anderson, 25, of Carrington, North Dakota. “We had one that ran (in the third round) and maybe missed the barrier a little bit, but we got him caught and got him mucked down to break the ice.”

It’s his first payday competing at the NFR in Las Vegas. His first qualification to the championship came in 2020, when the finale took place in Arlington, Texas, because of COVID restrictions. He’d spent a lifetime dreaming about running steers inside the Thomas & Mack Center, the 10-day event’s home since 1985.

He’s been faster than he was Sunday and won a lot less money at rodeos across the country, and he had to beat a lot more than the top 15 cowboys in steer wrestling to do it. Round 3 featured the strong pen of steers, so being among the leaders was a big deal.

“We’ll take every dollar we can get,” he said.

Riding his horse, Whiskers, with veteran Clayton Hass hazing on Tyler Pearson’s Metallica offers Anderson a bit of comfort. Hass has competed at the NFR before and is one of the top hazers in ProRodeo.

“Hass is amazing, and Metallica is arguably one of the best haze horses ever to do it,” he said. “I’m pretty confident in the team we have out here.”

He’s also secure in his own abilities and his mental approach. That came in handy after his early struggles.

“The first two nights are regardless of what we’re doing now,” Anderson said. “The starts are fast enough at this rodeo that there’s no different game plan other than to try to blow the barrier out and make a good run. You’ve got to beat 14 guys for ($30,706) every night. It’s the best rodeo, and each night is better than any other rodeo.

“We go all year to get here, so take it one night at a time. Whatever happened last night is irrelevant. We just keep rolling, and hopefully we can get a little momentum as long as it’s going good.”

They key to success in any athletic endeavor is to remain mentally strong.

“You have to take the positives,” he said. “When you get to Vegas the first time, it’s really tough to get the start. I feel like we did a good job of that, even the first two nights. We decided that as long as we get good starts and the horses keep working good like they have been, they’re not going to be able to starve me forever. I just try to do the best I can.”

He has seven more go-rounds to make it happen.


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