SAN ANTONIO - Montana cowboys Ty Erickson and Chase Brooks took advantage of a solid week in Texas to earn nice paychecks at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.
Erickson, a Helena native, won $10,375 over four steer wrestling performances. He placed second in his opening round in a time of 5.2 and improved that with a 4.1 in his next go. Those times vaulted Erickson into the Wild Card round which he dominated in 3.6 seconds for another $3,000 check. Will Lummus and Jacob Talley split second in that round clocking 4.4 to win $1,800 apiece.
In the championship round Erickson and Jacob Edler split second in 3.8 for $5,375 each. Stockton Graves won it in 3.5 seconds for $9,000 and won was the overall steer wrestling champion earning $11,250.
Brooks, a Deer Lodge cowboy, also turned heads with a combination of paychecks in saddle bronc riding.
Competing in the fifth and final bracket, Brooks split 2nd/3rd with Taygen Schuelke in the opening round with 83.5 points. Shortly after, he placed third in the next round to qualify second for semifinals. There, Brooks turned in another second place finish with 87.5 points finishing only behind Logan Hay's 90-point ride.
Brooks and Ryder Wright split 2nd/3rd in the finals scoring 88.5. Brooks closed the week with $9,075. Kolby Wanchuk earned $13,500 as the overall saddle bronc champion.
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Stetson Wright strode to the stage to make his selection for the bull he wanted to ride in the finals.
After winning the wild-card round earlier in the day, Wright's good day kept rolling when his name was chosen first for the draw.
With zero hesitation, the reigning PRCA bull riding world champion and two-time all-around world champion called out Frontier Rodeo's Trophy Rack.
About four hours later, Wright rode Trophy Rack for a 93-point ride and his first San Antonio title at the Freeman Coliseum on Feb. 27.
"It was a great week," said a beaming Wright.
Wright hadn't been on Trophy Rack, but he knew what to expect, and that's why he selected the bull with the first pick.
"He bucks exactly like a bucking horse, as far as jumping, kicking, snapping and blowing the air," Wright said. "I knew as long as I rode forward and back, I'd ride him like I was supposed to."
The 21-year-old nearly lost it all. With less than two seconds remaining until the whistle, Wright appeared to be falling off. Somehow, he adjusted himself before gravity could drag him to the dirt.
"I almost messed up big time," Wright said. "He was going left and I was getting to where I was counting money before I got to the bank. I got down in the well and I was like, you're either going to get bucked off or kick loose with everything and get back to the middle."
Wright got back to the middle and earned $9,000 for first to win the rodeo with $15,800, more money than any other winner. Before San Antonio, Wright was seventh in the world standings. His San Antonio winnings will more than double his earnings in the world.
Getting a jump this early in the season is new for Wright.
"Having a good winter is something that I really haven't done in the past two years," he said. "… This is the exact way I wanted to start my year. I ride better when I get into the summertime and we're riding more bulls and more horses every day. Starting like this, hopefully I can roll on through and keep everything going."
Wright also finished fourth in the saddle bronc riding. He went into San Antonio in second place in the all-around world standings.
Wright had to go through the wild-card round after getting bucked off in the semifinals. He posted an 84-point ride on 4L & Diamond S Rodeo's Cabo on Saturday afternoon to win the round and advance to the finals.
"I wish I'd gone to the semifinals and done my job," Wright said. "But I tend to do that thing where I make it really tough on my mind and my stomach to go through the hard stuff to get to the top. It's stressful, but when it works like this it's cool."
Team ropers Clay Smith and Jade Corkill tied a ProRodeo record and set a San Antonio rodeo record with a 3.3-second run in the finals. The previous record was set by Dustin Bird and Levi Tyan in 2020 at the AT&T Center. Smith and Corkill won the rodeo with $12,000 apiece.
Other winners of the $644,840 rodeo were: Bareback rider Clayton Biglow ($13,700); steer wrestler Stockton Graves ($11,250); saddle bronc rider Kolby Wanchuk ($13,500); tie-down roper Adam Gray ($13,700); and barrel racer Carly Taylor ($13,300).
(Editor's note: PRCA contributed to this story)