LAS VEGAS — Everything had to go right Friday for Helena cowboys Ty Erickson and Chase Tryan to have a chance at a PRCA world title. Everything did, and now just one round stands between gold and a trio of Montanans at the National Finals Rodeo.
The incredible night started in steer wrestling, where Helena's Erickson had to swing for the fences. He connected, winning Round 9 with a 3.6-second run. That moved him back to No. 1 in the PRCA world standings, but all Erickson's traveling partner Ty Waguespack had to do was record two rides in the final two rounds to win the Average and pass Erickson in the final standings. But Waguespack's steer stopped as soon as it left the gate, and Waguespack missed the horns for a no-time.
That dropped the Louisiana cowboy to 11th in the Average, as Erickson rose to fifth. The Montanan is now projected to win the world with just one round remaining Saturday night.
Capital City compatriot Chase Tryan had similar luck. The Helena heeler and partner Brenten Hall recorded a 4.4-second run to finish third in Round 9, but needed Clay Smith and Jade Corkill to miss their calf to have any hope of catching them in the average. Smith did his job, but Corkill missed the heels, dropping the pair to eighth in the average, while Tryan and Hall rose to second.
Tryan is currently No. 5 in the world standings, but would move to No. 1 thanks to the average payout.
Miles City tie-down roper Haven Meged, meanwhile, was in the driver's seat for a world title entering Friday night. The 21-year-old led the NFR average and the projected world championship race, so he was focused on two clean rides to bring him gold in his first NFR trip. Meged did just that in Round 9, recording an 8.4-second time to keep him atop the average race by 0.3 seconds over Tyson Durfey. Four-time world champion Tuf Cooper is 0.6 seconds behind Meged in the average, setting up a furious finalé.
Round 10 of the National Finals Rodeo is set for 8 p.m. MST Saturday night.
Elsewhere in Round 9 action, Corvallis bareback rider Caleb Bennett continued his stellar NFR with 89 points, good for second in the go-round. Stevensville's Richmond Champion scored 83.5 points to stay third in the average.
Butte steer wrestler Bridger Chambers finished sixth in Round 9 with a 4.7-second run. He's now fourth in the average, one spot in front of Erickson.
In saddle bronc, Zeke Thurston likely wrapped up the world title by winning Round 9 with 91 points. Thurston extended his PRCA world lead and kept a stranglehold on fourth in the NFR average. Wyoming's Brody Cress struggled to a 70.5-point ride but stayed No. 1 in the average after Rusty Wright bucked off. Cress is the only rider to cover all nine broncs in the rodeo.