LAS VEGAS – No matter how fast sprinter Usain Bolt is, he understands that a good start is the key to making a good run.
Steer wrestlers compete similarly. They need to start fast to stop the clock in quick order, all while riding a fast horse that’s chasing a running steer. When Bridger Anderson has placed, it’s because he and his prized mount, Whiskers, have timed their starts at a precise moment. It certainly has made things easier when he launches himself off the black gelding onto the cow.
“They were previously a no-time and a little longer on that steer, and he wants to slip a horn, so I knew I had to blast the barrier and try to get it early and get ahead of him a little bit,” said Anderson, who stopped the clock in 3.8 seconds to finish third in Friday’s ninth round of the National Finals Rodeo. “I felt like I got a great start.
“(Hazer) Clayton (Hass) did a great job of walling him off on Metallica for Whiskers and I, and it ended up working out. I got ahead of that steer and got by him. Maybe it wasn’t the prettiest, but we got by him.”
He also earned $18,325 for his top finish. Heading into Saturday’s final go-round, he has earned $102,614 and has moved up six spots to eighth in the world standings with $188,125.
“It’s awesome to break six figures at this NFR,” said Anderson of Carrington, North Dakota. “I know there’s been a few times we haven’t necessarily capitalized this week, and it would’ve been cool to see if we could have pulled out the way we have in the latter part of the week when it first started.
“I’m super pumped for Cody Devers tonight. I’m so glad he got the round win and got a little redemption on his NFR experience. I’ve never seen anybody run so fast to get on that victory-lap horse than Devers did.”
Anderson and Devers were teammates at Northwestern Oklahoma State University and are two of four former Rangers’ bulldoggers competing in Las Vegas. All placed Friday night, with Devers leading the way with a 3.5-second run. J.D. Struxness was second, and Stephen Culling was sixth.
“With all four of us placing in the round, it was a good show and we had a good night,” said Anderson, the 2019 intercollegiate champion.
He has placed four times with two round titles. That’s been key to his financial success this week, and he has one more night to catch Nevada money.
“We’ve just been taking the positives,” he said. “We’re blowing the barrier out. We’re feeling good, and our horses feel great. As long as we get a dancing partner in Round 10, I have no doubt we’re going to be able to keep capitalizing and try to finish this week out strong.”