RENO, Nev. — When Brennon Eldred needed to be at his best June 16, he was.
Thanks to an 87.5-point ride on Rosser Rodeo’s Yeti in the short round, Eldred powered his way to the Reno Xtreme Bulls Division 1 championship.
"That’s what we all came here to do, and it was a tough night, but it was awesome to win," said Eldred, 21.
The Sulphur, Okla., cowboy took top honors with a score of 166.5 points on two head. Cody Johansen was second with 158 points, followed by Jeff Askey with 155.5.
Eldred had never been on Yeti before June 16, but was thrilled with how he performed.
"He was a good bull," Eldred said. "He hopped, skipped out there and he ‘bout bucked me off a couple of times. If I would’ve quit one time, he would’ve bucked me off. It was awesome when I saw my score, because I knew he bucked and if I rode him, he was going to be some points."
Eldred gave himself a chance to claim ultimate glory in Reno by qualifying for the 12-man short round with a 79-point ride on All In Pro Rodeo’s Calico in the first round, which left him in seventh place.
When Eldred left the Reno Livestock Events Center, he collected a $10,716 check - including $7,050 for winning the average. Eldred moved up to fourth place in the June 20 PRCA Xtreme Bulls standings with $21,550.
"It’s great to win Xtreme Bulls events," Eldred said. "They’re definitely not easy to win, and this feels good."
Eldred joins the two other 2016 Xtreme Bulls Division 1 winners - Bobby Welsh (San Antonio, Texas, Feb. 27) and Parker Breding (Fort Mohave, Ariz., March 12). This was Eldred’s second career Xtreme Bulls victory. He won his first title at the 2015 Xtreme Bulls Division 1 event in Lovington, N.M., with a score of 175.5 points on two head.
"I don’t care who I’m riding against; I want to win, and if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best," Eldred said.
Eldred is optimistic he can utilize this Reno win to kick-start his summer run. He moved up nine spots to eighth in the June 20 Weather Guard PRCA World Standings with $38,710.
"Hopefully, I can keep this momentum going into the summer run," Eldred said.
Eldred, who joined the PRCA in 2013, has already turned plenty of heads in his brief career, as he qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Polaris Ranger in 2014-15. He placed a career-best 10th in the world in 2015.
• Rusty Wright’s 88-point ride on Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Bright Lights June 18 broke the oldest record on the books at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte, Neb. Jesse Bail rode before Wright, and broke the record with an 87-point ride. But he held the top mark for only minutes, as Wright bested it with an 88. Wright’s score was two points better than the record Sammie Groves set in 1978, which was equaled last year by Chet Johnson. Wright also captured the title in Pleasant Grove, Utah, which brought his weekend earnings total to $5,554. Josh Peek banked $4,531 for his labors in steer wrestling and tie-down roping in North Platte, and that broke the rodeo’s all-around earnings record of $4,455 set by Garrett Nokes in 2005.
• Bareback riders Tim O’Connell and Tanner Aus continued their recent hot streaks over the weekend. With his win in North Platte, Neb., O’Connell has now won at least one PRCA rodeo in each of the last four weeks, a total of five in four states. His run started the last week of May with a title in Claremore, Okla., and he followed that with wins in Fort Smith, Ark., Garden City, Kan., Ponca City, Okla., and North Platte. Aus has had a pair of wins in back-to-back weeks, capturing top money at the Wrangler Champions Challenge presented by Justin Boots in Kissimmee, Fla., and in Hawley, Minn., a week ago, and then taking victory laps in Bellevue, Iowa, and Lexington, Ky., this past weekend.
• The 68th College National Finals Rodeo concluded in Casper, Wyo., over the weekend, with the Feather River College (Quincy, Calif.) men’s team and the Blue Mountain Community College (Pendleton, Ore.) women’s team taking home championships. It was the second straight team title for the BMCC women, who were led by Danyelle Williams, the women’s all-around champ. Wyatt Denny led the way for Feather River College, winning the bareback riding with an average score of 311.5 points on four head, while teammate Clayton Biglow finished second in the average with 308.5 points on four. Marcus Theriot, the son of 1994 World Champion Tie-down Roper Herbert Theriot, earned several accolades in Casper. The East Mississippi Community College (Scooba) cowboy won the tie-down roping average with a time of 38.1 seconds on four head, while also capturing the men’s all-around and rookie titles. The July 1 ProRodeo Sports News will have more in-depth coverage of the CNFR.
Larsen out with ankle injury
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Saddle Bronc rider Tyrel Larsen, who is seventh in the June 20 Weather Guard PRCA World Standings with $34,450, is sidelined indefinitely with a broken right ankle.
Larsen suffered the injury June 10 when Calgary Stampede’s Texas Cherry fell on his leg at the Lea Park Rodeo in Marwayne, Alberta.
"The horse was out there spinning and lost his feet and fell on top of my leg," Larsen said. "My leg got trapped underneath him and he rolled on it and twisted (my right ankle) all the way and broke it. It was just kind of a freak deal."
Larsen had surgery June 14, which included three screws being put in his ankle.
"Whenever it starts healing up and feeling good, I’ll be back out there," Larsen said. "That could be anywhere from 6-12 weeks, depending on how fast things heal up and if there are no complications."
Larsen made his debut at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Polaris Ranger last December, finishing 13th in the world standings with $97,826. Larsen’s younger brother, Orin, a bareback rider, is leading the June 20 Weather Guard PRCA World Standings, and he also made his first trip to the WNFR last year. They are the first cowboys from Manitoba to qualify for the WNFR.
"I’m just going to play it by ear for now," said Larsen, 26. "Hopefully I can get out there and have two full months of rodeo left and still have a shot to make the Finals. I still have high hopes. I’m hoping I will get a walking boot put on my ankle when I go to the doctor (June 24)."
Larsen — who lives in Weatherford, Okla., with his wife, Chaney, and their 2-month old son, Charlie — found a silver lining to his injury.
"Now I can spend some time at home with my son," Larsen said.
News & Notes from the rodeo trail
The Wrangler Network will be live streaming the Reno (Nev.) Rodeo June 20-25, with coverage starting at 5 p.m. each night. Log on to www.wranglernetwork.com to watch … Brent Romick Arena, the home of the 10-week Steamboat Springs (Colo.) ProRodeo Series, has received some upgrades for the 2016 season. Among them is a new sound system, and both the competition and warm-up arenas received an overhaul and will be slightly larger. New Priefert panels will give the arena a more modern feel, and there will also be more stalls available for those wanting to keep horses overnight. "It is significantly more contestant-friendly," said John Shipley, the rodeo board president. "It will be pretty noticeable, particularly as (spectators) make their way from the concession stand over to the concrete grandstands. They are going to be walking right through the heart of a lot of this new equipment." … California Rodeo Salinas has awarded scholarships to five Salinas Valley high school graduates who are attending local Hartnell College or transferring from Hartnell to a university. The five students who received scholarships are Francisco Amaro, Angela Serrano, Annabel Murillo, Alejandro Gomez and Adela Zamora … Dr. Jim States was the recipient of the 2016 Dale Studley Memorial Award during the June 17 performance of the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte, Neb. "The award is given to people or organizations that give selflessly of their time and resources to help our organization," said David Fudge, executive director of Nebraskaland Days. States, who served on the Nebraskaland Days Board from 1998-2003, is the 44th recipient of the Studley Award, which is annually given to an individual or group who has gone above and beyond for Nebraska’s Official State Celebration … Former PRCA announcer Art Daly was honored posthumously with the 2016 Trail Boss Award from the Buffalo Bill Rodeo committee. The Trail Boss Award is given annually to someone who has contributed positively to rodeo in general, but in particular to west central Nebraska. Daly, who died Aug. 1, 2014, announced at PRCA events, as well as college and high school rodeos in the area … Before the rodeo started in North Platte, the annual North Platte Jaycees’ Flapjack Feed took place the morning of June 17. Pancakes and sausage were served to the 400 people in attendance, with the $2,000 raised going to a fund which supports important causes in the community. The event is in its 31st year … Pearl River Community College (Poplarville, Miss.) is getting ready to saddle up this fall as it puts the finishing touches on its inaugural rodeo team. The PRCC Board of Trustees approved the addition of rodeo to its roster of varsity sports June 16. "This program provides an opportunity to reach out to a variety of students in our area," said Adam Breerwood, vice president of PRCC. "People are very excited about this, and we have donations coming in from all over." At present, Breerwood said the school plans to offer 15 full-tuition scholarships for rodeo competitors, which includes men and women. When the team begins competition this fall, it will join Mississippi State, East Mississippi Community College and Northwest Mississippi as the only schools in the state offering a competitive rodeo team.