BELT — It’s been a decade since saddle bronc star Jess Kruse claimed the 2009 world title at the NFR in Las Vegas. But after several down years dealing with knee and hip injuries, the Great Falls cowboy has flashed some of the familiar form that took him to the top of the rodeo world.
“I’ve been drawing good and it’s been hit and miss riding-wise, but everything is starting to come together,” he said. “It’s good to be in the busy part of the year now.”
Kruse claimed the saddle bronc title in Belt over the weekend to vault him to 12th in the world standings with more than $42,000 earned in 2019. He won his fifth Montana circuit title in January and earned more than $16,000 at the national circuit finals in Florida. After years of focusing solely on the circuit, Kruse plans to hit the road full time again this year with his eyes on a return trip to the NFR.
“That’s the hardest part about being hurt, is just doing the circuit. It was hard not going every day, just one or two on the weekend,” Kruse said. “Just having the patience to wait it out and then the head game on top of it, not letting it get to you, but eventually it all works out.”
Kruse is in good company on the road. He’s traveling with Deer Lodge cowboy Chase Brooks, who is currently ranked No. 4 in the world with more than $78,000 year-to-date earnings.