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CNFR: bareback

Dickinson State bareback rider Clay Jorgenson holds on to the horse Black Shawl during the College National Finals Rodeo on Tuesday at the Casper Events Center.

Dylan Riggins will be in good shape once his ability to dismount bareback broncs catches up with his skill at riding them.

The New Mexico State grad student did just about everything he could atop Southwick’s Trick Pony during Tuesday’s slack at the College National Finals Rodeo, scoring a 77.5.

And then the horse stepped on him.

“I just need to work on better get-offs,” Riggins said. “I was kind of falling into my hand, and I was hoping my hand would just come out, and it kind of did, but I was still hanging there. And then her feet came down right on top of my stomach. Got stepped on a little bit. Had to take a little a dirt nap, but we’re good now.”

Riggins’ ride came shortly after Mesalands Community College’s A.J. Kee had to be helped out of the arena. Riggins said he just had the wind knocked out of him.

“It’s just minor stuff,” he said. “But I’m feeling good now. Feeling great. And I’ve got a day before the next one.”

The score, which left Riggins tied for sixth in the average, softened the blow.

“When I got stepped on, I was like, ‘Aw, crap. I’m hurting,’” he said. “And then I looked up at that big screen that said 77 and a half, and it just lit up my world.”

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Panhandle State’s Jade Taton also had a 77.5 in the second go-round. Only Panola College’s Tyler Johnson scored higher. His 78.5 on the last ride of the slack won him the round.

Johnson knew he had a good shot coming in, as Jake Brown, a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association bareback rider, told him he’d have a good horse beneath him.

“He said, ‘You’ve got Hypnotic in the second round. That’s awesome,’” Johnson said, referring to the Harry Vold Rodeo horse. “I said, ‘Is she a good one?’ He said, ‘Yeah. You’re going to love her.’

“... She was real rider-friendly and real showy, something you could really flash up.”

Johnson made the most of it, putting himself in a tie for second place in the average with Missouri Valley College’s Jesse Pope.

“It can put some pressure on you when you know you’ve got a really good (horse),” Johnson said. “Because you know you’ve got to use it. Especially a deal like this where, if you get a good one, you’d better use it because there are some good guys here.”

Sheridan College’s Chance Ames leads all bareback riders after two rounds with an average of 155. Chance Merrill (Coffeyville Community College) and Leighton Berry (Weatherford College) are tied in fourth with 141 points.

Lurking in sixth, tied with Riggins, is Tarleton State’s Tyler Berghuis, who won the event by 7.5 points last year.

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“As soon as I won that last year, I didn’t even have the words to explain how excited I was,” Berghuis said. “I was just shaking. It’s such a cool experience.

“... Last year I just felt unstoppable. I was rocking and rolling. Thank god for that whole trip. I’m just here to do it again.”

Berghuis had some catching up to do, however, after his 71.5 had him sitting in a tie for 14th after the first round. His 76.5 on Tuesday was a good start.

“Coming into this one again, I felt a little bit of pressure, trying to defend that title,” he said. “But you can’t really worry about that. You’ve got to worry about the now, and all that negative thoughts, you’ve got to get that out of your head. You’re here to win. I mean, I’ve done it. So I know I can do it again. Just keep fighting.”

Tuesday performance

Ames had no intention of giving up his lead in Tuesday night’s performance. He chose not to take a 73 because of a re-ride option, and it paid off, as he scored an 81.5 — the highest bareback score of the rodeo thus far. Ames continues to lead the field with 236.5 points.

Merrill also continued his strong start to the college finals with an 80, which had been the highest bareback score of the rodeo until Ames’ re-ride.

The score temporarily put Merrill on top of the average with 231 points. He entered the third go-round in fourth place.

Berry scored a 75.5 in his third go-round to move into third with 226.5. Fresno State’s Mitchell Parham (65) and Dickinson State’s Clay Jorgenson (47) also succeeded in completing their third rides of the college finals.

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Managing Editor

Brandon Foster is the Star-Tribune's managing editor. He joined the Star-Tribune in 2016 as the University of Wyoming sports reporter after graduating from the University of Missouri and covering Mizzou athletics for two years.

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