Tyler Berghuis was sitting pretty Tuesday after making the most of two strong draws at the College National Finals Rodeo.
He thought he knew what he was in for Tuesday night at the rodeo’s first performance, watching a video of Frontier Rodeo’s Cash Deal shortly before his ride.
“I knew what he was going to do,” the Tarleton State bareback bronc rider said. “But that was not the trip that he had. So he kind of caught me off guard. He went out straight. Things got a little fuzzy out there. I didn’t know what the heck was going on. I was glad to get it done out there.”
He hid it well. Berghuis scored an 80, the highest bareback score of the night. In fact, it was the just the second 80-plus score atop a bronc this week. The first came earlier Tuesday, and Berghuis was responsible for that one, too: an 81 on Southwick’s Pony Ex3press.
Berghuis, who won the second go-round and led after it, also watched videos in preparation for that bronc.
“I knew he had a bit of a scoot,” he said, “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.”
It was a quick turnaround between the two rides.
“With that ride coming off this morning, I felt really great,” Berghuis said. “It was really fresh in my head still what I needed to do, and I just capitalized on it.
Berghuis now has 239 points in the aggregate, increasing his lead to six 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.”
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.”
Qualifying for Saturday’s final go-round shouldn’t be an issue for Berguis. In the meantime, after two 80-point rides Tuesday, he’ll get a chance to rest.
“Yeah, I’ll have to get in the hot tub later and get some ice,” he said. “It will feel good. I’ll be ready to go for Saturday.”
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 of the no-scores. “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. Gillette College’s Carter Elshere led the average after two rounds at 154.
In the performance Tuesday night, it looked like fans might get a repeat of earlier in the day as rider after rider was bucked. The group finished well, though. And no one finished stronger than Keenan Reinhardt of Montana State, who had the section’s highest score, a 74, in its last slot.
“I didn’t know much about that horse,” he said of Frontier’s Baywatch. “They just got him, I think. And man, it’s just nice. The whole time, there’s timing to her, and so it’s just pick it up and just keep going.
“... On a horse like that, if you’re not going for a big-point ride, it’s harder to stay on. But at the same time, they’re giving the capability of going for a high-point ride, because they’ve got the timing.”
Reinhardt now sits second in the field with 201.5 points. He trails Panhandle State’s Dawson Dahm, the first saddle bronc rider to cover three (219).
“It feels great to have three covered this early in the week,” Reinhardt said. “Now, I’ll be safe for now and sitting good in the average.”