Courtesy of the PRCA
RED BLUFF, Calif. – Ty Erickson wasn’t nervous heading into the final round of the steer wrestling at the Red Bluff Round-Up on April 20. Mainly because he didn’t think he had a shot to win. As it turned out, the 23-year-old had a better chance than he thought, and ended up winning his first-ever rodeo on the Wrangler Million Dollar Tour, presented by Justin Boots.
“Everyone goes to the Tour rodeos because they add a lot of money, and also because they’re the rodeos we all want to win,” the Helena, Mont., bulldogger said. “It’s exciting to know you can compete against these guys and win.”
Entering the final round, Erickson trailed leader Seth Brockman by more than two seconds in the race for the average title. Erickson wasn’t really on the radar as far as someone who might win the rodeo, so he was relaxed for his final run.
“I wasn’t really nervous, and I just wanted to make a good run because I didn’t think I had a chance to win it,” Erickson said. “Unfortunately for Brock, he missed his steer, and the short round was falling apart and a lot of guys had broken barriers and a few other guys missed their steers. I just wanted to be smart in the last round. It changed my game plan a bit, because I didn’t want to cost myself money by trying to go too fast.”
When the dust settled, Erickson’s time of 23.5 seconds on four head was more than a second better than Sean Santucci, and almost two seconds better than third-place finisher Trevor Knowles.
Erickson earned a total of $4,538 in Red Bluff, which moved him to 10th in the April 21 Wyndham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings.
“Last year I crept up to about 19th place, but this is the highest I’ve ever been,” said Erickson, who entered the weekend 17th. “This was the plan since I was in college, and when I got done with school last spring, this was how I wanted it to go. I wanted to go to the (Wrangler) National Finals Rodeo last year, but last year gave me the confidence I needed going into this season.”
Erickson has been a winner at each level of his rodeo career. He won all-around titles in high school, qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo all four of his years at Montana State University (Bozeman) and was the PRCA Resistol Steer Wrestling Rookie of the Year in 2011.
He also won the Ram Montana Circuit Finals Rodeo in 2012, and has qualified for the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo twice.
Erickson has been traveling with rodeo veteran K.C. Jones – a seven-time WNFR qualifier – and also living with Jones in Texas. He says learning from Jones, and being fortunate enough to ride Jones’ horses in competition, is a big advantage for him.
“It definitely helps a lot to be staying and rodeoing with a veteran,” Erickson said of Jones. “Day in, and day out, I get to see how he goes about his business and how he prepares for rodeos. It’s starting to pay off now, and having a little experience last year helped me know how to rodeo this season.”
Erickson finished 23rd in the world last season, after finishing 45th in 2012. He is hoping he continues to trend upward, and is in the top 15 at the end of the regular season.
“I think I’m ready for the big stage,” he said. “Making the CNFR all four years and winning the Montana Circuit Finals taught me how to win. Winning Red Bluff makes me want to go to a lot more rodeos, but I know it’s a long season and I’m going to try to not get too high or too low.”
Other winners at the $252,955 rodeo were all-around cowboy Russell Cardoza ($1,645 in tie-down roping, steer wrestling and team roping), bareback rider Kaycee Feild (88 points on Flying U Rodeo Company’s Little Bit), team ropers Kaleb Driggers and Patrick Smith, and Cory Kidd V and Adam Plyler (24.4 seconds each on four head), saddle bronc rider Tyler Corrington (85 points on Big Stone, Moreno & Growney Rodeo Company’s Big Jim), tie-down roper Ryan Watkins (35.7 seconds on four head), bull rider Dylan Vick Hice (87 points on Western Rodeos’ Buck Master) and barrel racer Carlee Pierce (34.42 seconds on two runs).