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Melstone's Sage Newman, Stevensville's Richmond Champion recall early rodeo livelihood

Richmond Champion
Posted at 1:54 PM, Dec 15, 2023

LAS VEGAS - Seven world champions will be crowned Saturday on the National Finals Rodeo dirt in Las Vegas. There are just a couple title races still up for grabs — both involving Montana cowboys.

Thursday night in Round 8, Melstone's Sage Newman split the saddle bronc win. He's second in the world and could certainly benefit if leader Zeke Thurston to hiccups tonight or tomorrow. Within reach of his first world title, Newman enjoyed reflecting on the first stock he ever climbed aboard as a kid.

"I do remember getting on steers when I was younger. I wanted to be a bull rider really bad," Newman said. "I watched the PBR, I wanted to be a bull rider and that's all I wanted to do. Then I kind of transitioned into riding saddle broncs. It looks good when you do it right and it's more like a dance than anything."

He sure knows how to dance inside the arena.

Stevensville bareback rider Richie Champion also recalled his early days — his very first NFR ride to be exact — years ago as wide-eyed rookie.

"I remember being so nervous and excited for my first one. I think I was like 76 points or something," Champion said with a smile. "Got the whistle and I remember walking up the alley and being like, whatever it took to get here, it was all worth it after that."

Champion has won money in half the rounds at this 2023 NFR.

Miles City's Haven Meged is so close to winning his second tie-down world title. He's been chasing Riley Webb all season and is now within an eyelash of catching him in the final two rounds.

That could mean two family world titles in the span of about a week after Meged's newlywed wife Shelby just won breakaway roping.

"It's a dream come true, honestly. She's put in the work and time and I'm so happy for her," Meged said. "She roped amazing all year and showed up to the National Finals and roped her butt off, and I'm so proud of her."

Also noteworthy, Britany Pozzi Tonozzi is now a three-time world champion. She wrapped up barrel racing Thursday night earning almost $430,000 this season with two high-paying rounds left.