At this point, Brody Cress is no longer a National Finals Rodeo rookie.
The Hillsdale saddle bronc rider might be competing in his first NFR, but through seven rounds he was riding like a veteran. In round seven Wednesday, Cress had an 80-point ride on top of Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Hickok to finish in a tie for sixth place. It was the fourth consecutive round in which the 21-year-old cashed a check.
“I’ve drawn some horses that might not be the best in the pen,” Cress said, “but you’ve still got to do your job when you get on ‘em.
“I’ve been able to stay focused on the process and stay the same, no matter what horse I’m getting on. That’s helped me stay consistent.”
Cress’s consistency the past week in Las Vegas – he’s scored at least 82.5 points in five rounds – had the Cheyenne East grad leading the average with 586.5 points through Wednesday. He’s pocketed more than $85,000 since the start of the NFR and is fifth in the world standings with almost $191,000 for the year.
While Cress might be one of four first-year saddle bronc rider at this year’s NFR, his success at the Thomas & Mack Center shouldn’t come as a surprise.
“This is along the lines of what I wanted to do,” he said. “I’ve had a good year, so I knew if I came here and did my job and got good horses that I could be successful.”
His success began in the second round when he placed third. After finishing out of the money in the third round, he finished second in the next three rounds before Wednesday’s sixth-place showing.
“The first night was kind of a blur because of how fast they had you moving,” Cress said. “So I probably started to find my groove about that second or third round after I had been on a few. Obviously this isn’t just another rodeo, but it has slowed down and been a little easier after that first night.”
In addition to competing every night, Cress has had other responsibilities in Sin City.
“I’ve been having signings every day, and I like that,” he said. “To be able to go and represent my sponsors and the people who have supported me all year in situations like that is a privilege.
“And it also kind of keeps the day rolling. Rather than sitting around and doing nothing it keep s the day going and gets you ready to go for that night.”
Even without the signings, Cress had plenty to keep him busy. The ag business major at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, just completed his senior year.
“I finally got all my finals done (Wednesday),” he said. “I had finals in Economics of Agribusiness Management and Rec and Tourism Economics.
“Now it’s just down to business. Three more bucking horses and keep focusing on the same things I have been for the last week and a half.”
And while there are five cowboys with Wyoming ties at this year’s NFR, Cress and Cowley bareback bronc rider JR Vezain are the only ones who were born and raised in Wyoming.
And that means a lot to Cress.
“I feel privileged to be able to represent Wyoming,” he said. “I owe Wyoming so much, and so many people in the state have helped me grow up and get to this point.
“I have such an amazing support system. They help me every day and they would drop everything to help me. So to represent them and the Cowboy State is outstanding. I wouldn’t want to be from anywhere else.”