Tyler Berghuis has made the most of his draws at the College National Finals Rodeo.
On Sunday, the Tarleton State bareback bronc rider scored a 78 on Frontier Rodeo’s Going To Heaven.
“I didn’t hear much about it until they loaded him and said, ‘Well, he’s going to be all there. He might have a couple moves,’” Berghuis said. “So, we went up there, and he blew up right there and cut left across the chutes. Honestly, I drew a really good horse right there.”
He was half a point off the first go-round’s winners, Missouri Valley College’s Jesse Pope and Montana State’s Jesse Nelson. Tuesday, he gave himself a cushion, recording an 81 on Southwick’s Pony Ex3press — the rodeo’s first 80 atop a bronc — to win the round and take the average lead.
“Honestly, going into it, I knew that horse bucked quite a bit,” Berghuis said. “So I watched a couple videos on him. I knew he had a bit of a scoot, so I just really wanted to wait and build my ride. And when he finally broke, I knew he was going to jam up. I was just really happy to be there on that one.”
Berghuis now has 159 points in the aggregate, 3.5 points ahead of Doane College’s George Shadbolt.
“Honestly, I’m really ecstatic,” Berguis said. “I’m enjoying every bit of it, just taking it all in. I thank the lord for everything, helping me out. I’m still healthy and everything.”
This is the senior’s first trip to the CNFR.
“Four years, I finally got here,” he said. “... Like I was telling my coach, I just wanted to keep a clear head, not think about it too much. I know how to ride. I’ve got confidence in myself. As long as I stay confident in myself, I know that it’s all going to come to order.”
Nelson, one of the co-winners in the first go-round, managed a 74.5 on Tuesday to keep within striking distance.
“A little horse of Triple V’s,” Nelson said of Black Shawl. “Really good for about 3 (seconds) and then kind of took off there at the end. Just kind of part of it. Some horses have their day, and that one didn’t.
“I feel like I rode really good and kept at it. She kind of took off there at the end. But, just kind of a weaker horse in the pen. But I did all I can do, and that’s part of the rodeo and luck of the draw and stuff like that.”
He is now tied for fifth place with Sheridan College’s Chance Ames (153.0), trailing Berghuis, Shadbolt, Pope, and Montana Western’s Tristan Hansen.
“I’m still going to try to go out and win every round,” Nelson said. “No matter what I draw or what happens or what’s going on, big horses, little horses, I’m still going to try to win the round every time. I bet all guys would say they’re not coming here to lose. We’re all going to try to go and win the round every time.
“I think when you go to safety up … then that’s when you end up getting burnt the baddest. So I’m not going to safety up or slow down. Just try to do my best and win every round. It didn’t happen in the second round, but we’ve got a good one in the third round, and we’re going to come back and try again.”
Saddle bronc riding
Saddle bronc riding was a struggle for the competitors in the third and fourth sections of the second go Tuesday. The first seven riders of the final section had failed to post a score as Panhandle State’s Jake Finlay readied for his ride.
The Australian rider was not concerned. He came through with a 73.5, one of just eight completed saddle bronc rides Tuesday, just four of which scored of 70 or better.
“It’s not too big of a deal,” he said. “I’ve been here to Casper a couple times now and don’t let it get to me. It is what it is.
“... It’s pretty hit and miss here sometimes. Other cowboys get a bit stressed coming here. It’s their first big show away. They get a little nervous and beat themselves more than anything. Just as long as I ride my horse and do what I can do, I can’t do anything else.”
Treasure Valley Community College’s Jake Clark’s 77 from Monday survived the final two sections of the second go-round. Trenton Burd of Fort Scott Community College came closest to knocking him off with a 76.5 on Tuesday. That’s the same score Gillette College’s Carter Elshere posted Monday, putting him first in the average at 154. Panhandle State’s Dawson Dahm is second with 152.