Former Sheridan College saddle bronc rider Zeke Thurston got his 2019 National Finals Rodeo off to a solid start Thursday in Las Vegas.
Thurston, the 2016 world champion, won the first round with an 88.0-point ride on Mo Betta Rodeo’s Sue City Sue to pocket more than $26,000. He now sits second in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world standings with $213,222 for the season, trailing Ryder Wright by just $21,266.
Hillsdale’s Brody Cress tied for fourth in saddle bronc with an 86.0 on Salt River Rodeo’s Smoke Ring. Cress, who won the NFR average title two years ago, is ninth in the world standings.
Two other cowboys with Wyoming ties both finished out of the money Thursday. Former Central Wyoming College bareback bronc rider Ty Breuer placed 12th with an 83.5 and former Eastern Wyoming College cowboy Riley Pruitt was 11th in tie-down roping with a 10.3-second run.
In bareback, Richmond Champion won the round with a 91.5 on Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Night Crawler and Stetson Wright increased his lead in the all-around standings by taking top honors in bull riding with a 92.5 on 4L Diamond S Rodeo’s Monte Walsh.
Other event winners were: steer wrestler Dakota Eldridge with a 3.6, tie-down roper Shane Hanchey with a 7.6, team ropers Tyler Wade and Cole Davison with a 4.0 and barrel racer Emily Miller with a 13.63.