HELENA -- It was a party fit for a king, or at least a world champion.
Dozens gathered in Helena Saturday evening to honor 2019 PRCA steer wrestling world champion Ty Erickson, who won his first gold buckle at the mighty Wrangler National Finals on Saturday, Dec. 7 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Erickson, a former Helena Capital student-athlete, arrived to a scene of family and friends, as well as world No. 2 steer wrestler Bridger Chambers of Stevensville, to celebrate the accomplishment. After dozens of handshakes, hugs and high-fives, Erickson and his aunt, Judy Wagner, addressed the crowd to show their gratitude for all that have supported his professional rodeo career.
"The other important part of this, guys, is the family and the community. All of the people behind Ty. Nobody gets to be a champion and do this without people like you," said Wagner, who works in marketing for Montana Silversmiths. "Look at this. He now has won a gold buckle, and I can say this -- I don’t know the exact number, but in the years the PRCA has been going, there is only 300-something people that have received a gold buckle. That is a hard, huge triumph. Congratulations on that."
"There’s a big tall cowboy back here, Bridger Chambers, too," Wagner continued, honoring Chambers' world runner-up finish for the second year in a row, "and let’s say it for the Montana cowboys and this fan in the arena, it was awesome. And the rest of the champions that are from Montana, what we did, can’t even explain it. You said it, ‘The bulldoggers out there are your friends,’ and that’s awesome too."
According to the Montana Pro Rodeo website, Erickson was the No. 1 steer wrestler on the Montana Circuit, with the Montana Circuit Finals set for Jan. 11-13 in Great Falls.