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Zeke Thurston took a big step Friday toward winning his second world championship in three years. The former Sheridan College saddle bronc rider won the ninth round of the National Finals Rodeo at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas with a 90-point ride on Andrews Rodeo’s Brutus.

Thurston sits third in the average with 693.5 points on eight head and third in the world standings with nearly $219,000 in earnings for the year. He trails two-time defending world champ Ryder Wright by less than $25,000, but Wright is 10th in the average, meaning Thurston could surpass Wright in season earnings with another solid ride in the 10th round Saturday. However, Rusty Wright is second in the world standings and fourth in the average and leads Thurston by almost $20,000.

Another cowboy with Wyoming ties, former Casper College team roper Trey Yates, and roping partner Aaron Tsinigine maintained their lead in the average with a 4.9-second run that was good for fifth in the round. Yates and Tsinigine are the only team ropers to record a time in all nine rounds, so as long as they post a time Saturday they will win the average title. Yates is fifth in the heeling world standings entering the final round.

Hillsdale saddle bronc rider Brody Cress’s tough NFR continued Friday with his seventh no-score of the rodeo. The defending average champ is 15th in the average and 12th in the world standings.

Former Central Wyoming College bareback bronc rider Ty Breuer also had a no-score, putting him 11th in the average and 12th in the world standings.

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Sports Editor

Jack Nowlin returned to the Star-Tribune in 2007 after eight years covering Michigan State University athletics. A Wyoming native, and a graduate of Jeffrey City High School and the University of Wyoming, Jack serves as the Star-Tribune’s sports editor.

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