LAS VEGAS — Haven Meged knows the PRCA tie-down roping world title is his to lose, and he doesn't plan on messing that up.
The 21-year-old Miles City native recorded a workman-like 9.1-second run in Round 8 Thursday at the National Finals Rodeo, keeping his lead in the NFR Average and in the projected world title race. Meged didn't win any money in the round, but most of his nearest competitors couldn't get any closer.
Meged leads the Average with a 69.3-second total on eight head, seven-tenths of a second ahead of second-place Tuf Cooper, who sits behind Meged in the current world standings. Tyson Durfey is half a second behind Cooper, but then it's more than four seconds back to fourth.
Meged is No. 5 in the world currently but would move to No. 1 if the Average were paid out Thursday night.
Helena heeler Chase Tryan got a boost to his world championship hopes Thursday by splitting the Round 8 win with a 4.3-second ride. Tryan is now fifth in the Average, right behind World No. 1 Jade Corkill, who will need to falter in order for Tryan to catch him in the title race with two rounds to go.
Ty Erickson didn't win any money in Round 8 of steer wrestling, but it was actually a good night for his world title chances. The Helena cowboy fell back to No. 2 in the PRCA standings but moved up to sixth in the Average after a 5.1-second run and several mistakes from other riders. Erickson trails J.D. Struxness by just less than $5,000, but Struxness isn't a factor in the Average payout. World No. 3 Ty Waguespack would win the title if the rodeo ended Thursday, as he continues to lead the Average.
Butte bulldogger Bridger Chambers also didn't place in Round 8 but is fifth in the high-paying Average.
Corvallis bareback rider Caleb Bennett won his sixth go-round check of the NFR Thursday, splitting sixth place with 86 points. New Bitterroot Valley neighbor Richmond Champion scored 85 points to maintain the No. 3 spot in the Average.
Deer Lodge saddle bronc rider Chase Brooks earned $20,730.77 for finishing second in Round 8 with an 89-point ride. But it's Wyoming's Brody Cress making the biggest charge. Cress split fourth, fifth and sixth Thursday with 86.5 points and moved to No. 1 in the Average by half a point over Rusty Wright. Cress is currently No. 6 in the PRCA world standings but is projected to finish third right now, which puts him in striking distance of world leader Zeke Thurston with two rounds to go.
Round 9 gets under way Friday at 8 p.m. MST at the Thomas & Mack Center.