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Cowboy Christmas in sight; who to watch

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Posted at 1:10 PM, Jun 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-03 16:49:18-04

BILLINGS -- The richest stretch of pro rodeo's regular season is just around the corner with several arenas across Montana and Wyoming eager to welcome back Cowboy Christmas after a void during last year's pandemic.

The usual suspects nearest Billings over the Fourth of July will include Livingston, Red Lodge and Cody -- typically hot spots for the world's top cowboys and cowgirls. Here's a look at which Montana and Wyoming contestants are making leaderboard moves as they gas up tanks to log fast and furious miles.

We are loaded in bareback riding. Stevensville's Richie Champion sits fourth in the world with just over $40,000. His career earnings are well over $1,300,000. Breathing right down his neck at No. 5 is five-time world champion Kaycee Feild, who's wife Stephanie is a Huntley Project native.

Wyoming has a close eye on Cole Reiner, who's sixth in the world right now. He graduated from Buffalo High School and attended Sheridan College on his climb toward the PRCA. If you toggle a little further in the standings you'll find Caleb Bennett. The Corvallis cowboy, one of six siblings, sits 11th.

Shifting to the 'Big Man's' event in steer wrestling, the only guy on our local radar is world champion Ty Erickson. The Helena cowboy would love to catch fire over the Fourth. He's quietly 14th in the world having earned about $25,000.

Guess who's hanging around as usual in the team roping? Montana's three-time world champion Clay Tryan. He's eighth in the world header standings, roughly $55,000 behind leader Erich Rogers. His cousin Chase Tryan is 10th in the heeler standings. Chase is coming up on the $1 million career earnings mark. If fact, at over $975,000, he could pass it during Cowboy Christmas.

We have a nice little combination cooking in the saddle bronc. Chase Brooks out of Deer Lodge is fifth in the world. He's already won a couple rodeos this season including the Montana Circuit Finals. Wyoming cowboy Brody Cress is right behind him in sixth. Cress finished third in the world standings just a few months ago and was a three-time state wrestling champion at Cheyenne East High School. His Wyoming pal Chet Johnston is 14th in saddle bronc.

Miles City's Haven Meged is on the tie-down radar, and why wouldn't he be? The young cowboy is a two-time qualifier at the National Finals Rodeo and owns one world title. Meged sits 11th in his event and already has a pair of wins this season.

We have one barrel racer in the mix and surprisingly, it's not Circle native Lisa Lockhart. Amanda Welsh out of Gillette storms into this summer No. 3 in the world with $29,000 -- only $8,000 off the lead. Lockart has only hit seven rodeos according to the Women's Pro Rodeo Association standings, winning less than $2,000 and ranking No. 133.

The only local bull rider on the top 15 leaderboard right now is Edgar's Parker Breding. He's 10th and won the circuit finals earlier this year in Kalispell. The former basketball guard on Joliet's high school team is ready to make a healthy run, already earning over $36,000 this season.

A full look at ProRodeo's latest world standings can be seen here.