When Brody Cress was about 6 years old, his parents signed him up for wrestling to make him better at rodeo.
The wrestling itself worked out pretty well, though, and Cress went on to win three state championships at Cheyenne East.
Now a saddle bronc rider at Tarleton State, Cress is back in Wyoming for the College National Finals Rodeo, seeking another championship in the Cowboy State.
“It’s fun to be able to ride in front of friends and family and ride in the home state,” said Cress, a Hillsdale native.
Cress scored 76.5 points on his first ride, was bucked just shy of 8 seconds on his second and scored a 77 on Wednesday night to leave him tied for second place in the aggregate.
“That second horse kind of got me, and I didn’t want that to happen, but I’ve done everything else pretty good,” Cress said. “So I’ve just got to look forward to keep getting on the next one.
“... I love this rodeo. It’s a great atmosphere. Lots of people. Great people putting it on. All the coaches and stuff help put it on and everything. It’s a great venue. I love this rodeo. It’s awesome.”
Despite knowing he would have to get into the final go-round on two head, Cress didn’t change his approach Wednesday night.
“Well, I always ride every horse aggressive,” he said. “I just, I try not to think about what I need to do. Just focus on the ride and let it take care of itself.”
Cress is also competing on the PRCA circuit.
“I’ve been doing really good this year,” he said. “I think I’m 39th in the world right now, so it’s been going really good. I’ve got some good horses drawn coming up, so I’m excited.”
Though his parents nudged him into it, Cress enjoyed the sport.
“I remember that it was hard,” he said. “I loved wrestling. ... It was fun. I dang sure liked wrestling a lot.”
Despite his wrestling success, Cress knew that rodeo was the route for him after high school.
“I almost wanted to go wrestle, but I knew I could go a lot further with rodeo,” he said. “Got a great opportunity to rodeo at Tarleton State for one of the best teams in the nation and one of the best coaches in Mark Eakin. That made my decision pretty easy to choose rodeo.
“... I wasn’t looking at too many (schools for wrestling), because I’d never go to big national tournaments and stuff. I was looking at the Air Force for a minute there, but I kind of always knew I wanted to rodeo.”
His time in wrestling has not gone to waste, however.
“Both sports are very physical and very mentally challenging sports, so they go hand in hand,” Cress said. “That wrestling helped me a lot just with the mental game and everything, because rodeo, there is so much mental game in it, because you can beat yourself and a lot of different things can happen. So it helped a lot.”
All in all, it appears his parents made the right choice.
“My parents have done so much for me, and I’m so thankful for them,” Cress said. “I’m dang sure glad they put me in wrestling.”