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Thurston wins saddle bronc world championship; Cress takes average title
NATIONAL FINALS RODEO

Thurston wins saddle bronc world championship; Cress takes average title

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The 2019 National Finals Rodeo came to a close Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas and two cowboys with Wyoming ties won titles.

Former Sheridan College cowboy Zeke Thurston captured his second saddle bronc world championship in four years while Hillsdale’s Brody Cress won the saddle bronc average title for the second time in three years.

Thurston finished the season with an event record $347,506.

“Honestly, I don’t know what to say,” Thurston said. “I wanted this second one worse than I wanted the first one. I came close last year, but it was a roller coaster out here. Lots of ups and downs, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

The Canadian cowboy tied for third in the 10th round with an 88.5-point ride on C5 Rodeo’s Kitty Whistle.

Cress, meanwhile, secured his second average title by winning the round with a 91.0 on The Cervi Brothers Rodeo’s RodeoHouston’s Womanizer. The only saddle bronc rider to cover all 10 head during the NFR, Cress finished with 840.5 points to win the average and also finished second in the world standings behind Thurston with $286,372.

Former Eastern Wyoming College cowboy Riley Pruitt entered the final round second in the tie-down roping world standings, but had trouble on the ground and posted a time of 15.8 seconds to finish fourth in the final standings.

NFR rookie Haven Meged of Miles City, Montana, won both the average title and the world championship. Meged, who rodeos at Tarleton State, won the College National Finals Rodeo tie-down title in June in Casper.

Montana snared two gold buckles on the night as Helena’s Ty Erickson won the steer wrestling for his first world title.

Bull rider Sage Kimzey won his sixth consecutive world title with a record $480,797 and also won the average title with 709.0 points on eight head.

Rookie Stetson Wright became the first roughstock cowboy since Ty Murray in 1998 to win the all-around title. Wright, who competes in bull riding and saddle bronc, finished with $297,923 to edge team roper Clay Smith, who was second with $279,672.

Bareback bronc rider Clayton Biglow capped an outstanding season and 10-day run by winning the round with a 93.0 on Northcott Macza’s Stevie Knicks. The Clements, California, cowboy also won the world championship ($425,843), the average title (886.5 points on 10) and the RAM Top Gun award with $243,891 won during the NFR.

Former Central Wyoming College cowboy Ty Breuer finished 13th in the world standings and 12th in the average.

In team roping, Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira won the round with a 4.1-second run. Clay Smith (header) and Wesley Thorp (heeler) were the world champs while Thorp and partner Cody Snow won the aggregate title.

Casper’s Ty Blasingame and roping partner Travis Graves finished 12th in the world standings and 14th in the average.

Hailey Kinsel won her second consecutive barrel racing world championship, with Ivy Conrado-Saebens claiming the average title.

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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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