Montana Pro RodeoCircuit Finals Roundup



Scott Mansch, smansch@greatfallstribune.com10:38 p.m. MT Jan. 14, 2017



Ty Erickson was back in the winner’s circle Saturday night all right, but it was his horse that truly found the spotlight.

Erickson’s mount “Shake Em,” a 14-year-old bay gelding co-owned by Erickson and Mary Kyler of Cascade, was the star of the show as the 38th annual Montana Pro Rodeo Finals continued at sold-out Pacific Steel and Recycling Four Seasons Arena.

Erickson, the 26-year-old former Helena Capital and Montana State star athlete, last month competed at his third National Finals Rodeo and finished seventh in the 2016 PRCA world standings. On Saturday, Shake Em carried the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Erickson to first place in the steer wrestling, a scintillating 3.8-second run that had a crowd of about 4,500 in an appreciative uproar.

Earlier, Straws Milan of Alberta rode Shake Em to a 4-flat second-place finish, and Kyle Callaway of Billings piloted the swift bay to a 4.1-second effort that was good enough for third place.

“Oh man, I couldn’t feel any better right now and not just because of my run,” said Erickson. “We just won first, second and third on my horse. And that’s pretty hard to because there’s so many good bulldoggers here. It’s not very often you go 1-2-3. So that’s pretty exciting.”

Erickson was hazing for both Milan and Callaway, while Josh Boka hazed for Erickson.

It’s a team sport, you understand.

“That’s the name of the game, especially in steer wrestling,” Erickson said. “We’re a close-knit group of guys, so if someone makes a great run you’re excited for them. And when you’re up they’re cheering for you.”

Erickson’s experience at last month’s NFR wasn’t as successful as he and many Montana rodeo fans had hoped. He entered the 10-performance rodeo in first place but it seemed like the only luck he had in Las Vegas was bad.

“In this sport you gotta have a short memory,” Erickson said. “I had a tough Finals, but that’s rodeo. You’re going to have your ups and downs. So you’ve just got to go and see if you can’t win at the next one.”

Checks will be cut on Sunday when the rich rodeo concludes. In the bull riding on Saturday, there were nothing but wrecks. The bull riders went 0-for-12 as an “eliminator pen” of bucking bovines simply would not be rode. That means the circuit title remains very much up for grabs, with only about $700 separating leader Parker Breding from top challengers Luke Gee and Cole Wagner.

Meanwhile, the race for the coveted MPRF all-around circuit year-end championship heated up as two-time defending champion Hank Hollenbeck of Molt applied some pressure to leader Dustin Bird of Cut Bank.

Bird, the great Cut Bank roper who took a no-time in Friday’s team roping, bounced back with heeling partner Justin Viles with a second-place finish on Saturday. Bird is also in position for a little money in the tie-down roping. Hollenbeck placed second in the calf roping on Saturday and is in position to claim a big bump with a possible first-place finish in the average when the rodeo concludes on Sunday.

The average, or aggregate, pays about $3,500 for a first-place finish and will be a determining factor in many of the year-end races.

Justin Miller of Billings took bareback honors Saturday with an 86-point ride aboard Sparky Dreesen’s J-Bar-J bucking horse Shady Lounge. In each event, a first-place finish per go-round is worth about $2,300.

“Just a great horse. Very powerful. Should be in the eliminator pen at the NFR,” said Miller, a 27-year-old from Billings Senior High who competed at Miles CC. “He’s just a great horse. He’s calm, but he does his business out there in the arena.”

Saturday’s team roping featured familiar names all over the leaderboard. The duo of Tanner Patzke-Sid Sporer won the go-round, while three Tryans picked up significant checks as well.

“It’s pretty cool to be here with everyone,” said Brady Tryan, who teamed with Matt Robertson of Augusta – another consistent circuit winner – for a third-place finish.

Brady’s older brother Travis and partner John Robertson are accomplished stars who placed second on Friday, cousin Chase Tryan and his header, Cody Tew, earned a nice check on Saturday.

All three Tryans and Robertson are former National Finals Rodeo ropers; brothers Brady and Travis are the sons of legendary circuit roper Dennis Tryan.

Dennis won six circuit championships and several MPRF average titles while dominating the team roping at this rodeo some 20 or more years ago.

Travis, 36, and Brady, 27, also have a big brother - the 37-year-old Clay, who has won a pair of world championships – and it’s fair to say that rare roping acumen runs in the family.

“My dad is my hero,” Brady said. “He’s a Montana legend. It’s a pretty cool deal to rope here when he competed so many times and did so good.”

Other go-round winners Saturday included Bode Scott of Custer (8.1 in tie-down roping), and saddle bronc riders Alan Gobert of Browning and Chase Brooks of Deer Lodge (82 points).

The barrel racing has proved problematic for many, with it tipped barrels the norm, but Heather Knerr of Grass Range had no issues Saturday while riding her 9-year-old brown mare Hershey. Knerr won the go-round and was among the few to have a smooth trip around the barrels.

“I know a lot of people don’t like this challenging pattern,” said Knerr, a former University of Great Falls barrel racer, “but it adds to the (drama) of it all. I like it.”

The barrel racing this weekend includes former world champion Mary Walker, 10-time NFR qualifier Lisa Lockhart, defending circuit champion Lindsay Kruse and former Ram National Finals champ Carmel Wright. Walker tipped two barrels on Friday and Kruse had the best run of the rodeo spoiled on Saturday when a barrel went down.

The 24-year-old Knerr, who won the average last year’s MPRF, is a rising star on the Montana scene.

“It’s cool,” she said of the competition. “It makes all of us ride to another level. We get to see them all year-round and it’s cool to ask questions and learn from them. Because they dang-sure have a lot of knowledge.”

The $150,000 rodeo concludes on Sunday afternoon at 2. Year-end champions and MPRF average winners earn trips to the lucrative Ram National Circuit Finals in Kissimmee, Fla., in April.

Bareback Riding: 1. Justin Miller, Billings, 87 points on J-J Rodeos Shady Lounge, $2325.91; 2. Jeffery Zdziarski, Weston, WY, 76.5, $1744.43; 3/4. Troy Vaira, Richey and Cavan Wrzesinski, Boulder, 76, $872.21 each; 5/6. Chase Erickson, Helena and Jessy Davis, Power, 75.5; 7. Blade Elliott, Centerville, 73; 8. Tristan Hansen, Victor, 70; 9. Tucker Zingg, Glendive, 69.5; 10. Skyler Erickson, Powell, WY; No Scores – Luke Wozney, Powell, WY and Chase Redfield, Opheim.

Average: 1. Justin Miller 163-2; 2. Jessy Davis 160.5-2; 3. Chase Erickson 154.5-2; 4. Cavan Wrzesinski 154-2

Team Roping: 1. Tanner Patzke, Klamath Falls, OR/Sid Sporer, Cody, WY 4.6, $2325.92 each; 2. Dustin Bird, Cut Bank/Justin Viles, Cody, WY 4.7, $1744.44; 3. Brady Tryan, Huntley/Matt Robertson, Augusta, 5.0, $1162.96; 4. Cody Tew, Belgrade/Chase Tryan, Helena, 9.3, $581.48; 5. Shawn Bessette, Great Falls/Kasper Roy, Mossleigh, AB, 9.5; 6. Delon Parker, Worden/Ryan Zurcher, Powell, WY, 10.3; 7. Max Kuttler, American Falls, ID/Ike Folsom, Dillon, 11.0; No times - Shawn Bird, Cut Bank/Casey Cummins, Lodge Grass; Miles Kobold, Shepherd/Josh Hodge, Volborg; Brady Williams, Hammond/Dylan Johnson, Billings; Travis Tryan, Huntley/John Robertson, Polson; and Casey Tew, Belgrade/Kory Mytty, Lolo.

Average: Brady Tryan & Matt Robertson, 11.2-2; 2. Cody Tew & Chase Tryan, 14.1-2; 3. Shawn Bessette & Kasper Roy, 14.9-2; 4. Delon Parker & Ryan Zurcher, 15.6-2

High School Challenge: 

Bareback Riding – 1. No Score – Sebastian Hotalen, Belgrade

Saddle Bronc Riding – 1. Houston Brown, Miles City, 66; No Score – Tate Harmon, Powderville and Tyrell Toren, Kalispell.

Steer Wrestling: 1. Ty Erickson, Helena, 3.8, $2325.91; 2. Straws Milan, Cochrane, AB, 3.9, $1744.43; 3. Kyle Callaway, Blue Creek, 4.0, $1162.95; 4. Split – Mike Gollaher, Cascade and Newt Novich, Twin Bridges, 4.1, $290.73 each; 5. Denver Roy, Dalemead, AB, 4.8; 6. Josh Boka, Dillon, 5.1; 7. Bill Boyce, Lewistown, 5.5; 8. Reef Mills, Augusta, 6.0; 9. Hank Hollenbeck, Molt, 8.2; 10. Bridger Chambers, Stevensville, 14.4; No Time – Tony Larsen, Decker 

Average: 1. Ty Erickson, 7.9-2; 2. Newt Novich, 8.0-2; 3. Mike Gollaher, 8.6-2; 4. Kyle Callaway, 8.9-2.

Saddle Bronc Riding: 1/2. Alan Gobert, Browning, 82 points on Sankey Rodeos Hermit and Chase Brooks, Deer Lodge on New West Rodeo Productions’ Black Sun, $2228.99 each; 3. Wyatt Hurst, Brockway, 70, $1356.77; No Scores – Tanner Hollenbeck, Dillon; CJ Thoreson, Dillon; JC DeSaveur, Roberts; Cody Miller, Dillon; Travis Nelson, Philip, SD; Doug Fitzgerald, Babb; Gerald Eash, Trego; Kendall Green, Cohagen; and Tyrell Smith, Sand Coulee. 

Average: 1. Chase Brooks 161-2; 2-3. Alan Gobert and Tyrell Smith, 82-1; 4. Kendall Green 80-1

Tie Down Roping: 1. Bode Scott, Custer, 8.1, $2325.91; 2. Hank Hollenbeck, Molt, 8.4, $1744.43; 3. Sam Levine, Wolf Creek, 9.5, $1162.95; 4. Split – Jake Hamilton, Casper and Logan Hofer, 9.8, $290.73 each; 5. Chad Johnson, Cut Bank, 10.9; 6. Dustin Bird, Cut Bank, 11.0; No Times – George Marcenko, Havre; Bryant Mikkelson, Buffalo; Rawlee Yamauchi, Grace, ID; J.C. Crowley, Poplar; and Austin Barstow, Springview, NE

Average: 1. Bode Scott 18.3-2; 2. Hank Hollenbeck 18.6-2; 3. Logan Hofer 19.7-2; 4. Jake Hamilton 20.3-2

Barrel Racing: 1. Heather Knerr, Grass Range, 13.33, $2325.91; 2. Carmel Wright, Roy, 13.38, $1744.43; 3. Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, SD, 13.41, $1162.95; 4. Mary Walker, Ennis, TX, 13.48, $581.47; 5. Danna Jo Whitford, Browning, 13.53; 6. Ashley Sudan, Whitefish, 13.60; 7. Lisa Anderson, Bozeman, 13.66; 8. Becky Fuson, Conrad, 13.68; 9. Milee Dailey, Pray, 13.71; 10. Lindsay Kruse, Great Falls, 18.07; 11. Danielle Wright, Roy, 18.14; 12. Emily Kallenberger, Havre, 18.83

Average: 1. Carmel Wright 26.60-2; 2. Lisa Lockhart 26.70-2; 3. Ashley Sudan 28.86-2; Milee Dailey 27.55-2

Bull Riding: 1. No Qualified Rides

Average: 1. Gerald Eash 72-1; 2. Hawk Whitt 71-1

Tew-Mytty tandem sets team roping pace

Scott Mansch , Published 10:50 p.m. MT Jan. 13, 2017 | Updated 11 hours ago



Kory Mytty is in the business of helping young athletes achieve success.

On Friday night Casey Tew returned the favor as the 38th annual Montana Pro Rodeo Finals got underway before a boisterous crowd at Pacific Steel and Recycling Four Seasons Arena.

The team roping tandem of Tew-Mytty turned in a swift 4.6-second run to set the pace and provide one of many highlights as the rich rodeo got underway before a crowd of more than 4,000 at Four Seasons.

Tew, who grew up in Harlowton and Belgrade and lives now in Texas, is 22. He’s the youngest qualifier for the old rodeo this weekend. But his heeler has plenty of experience.

“He knows what he’s doing,” Tew said. “And I’m glad he’s roping with me.”

After Tew made a quick catch, Mytty cleaned up swiftly to post the excellent run.

Mytty, the Lolo roper who is head coach of the University of Montana rodeo team, has made more than 20 trips to the MPRF. With many championship saddles to show for it.

How many go-round triumphs for the celebrated heeler?

“I have no idea. It’s been a lot,” said Mytty. “There were a couple years when I was roping with Shane Schwenke where we won all three rounds. I’m not saying it’s going to happen this year, but I’d love for it to be.”

The team roping this weekend is full of top-notch talent, including NFR veterans such as Dustin Bird, Travis Tryan, Brady Tryan, Chase Tryan and Matt Robertson. Mytty is another cowboy who has achieved rare roping success.

He smiled when asked about his Circuit Finals legacy. He said this is his 25th trip to town for the event.

“I love coming here and competing,” Mytty said. Then he laughed.

“I’ve roped with one Schwenke, one (Brant) Davis, one (Derick) Fleming, two Birds (Sam and Dustin) and two Tews (Cody and Casey). And now I’m trying to get a Tryan.”

There was more NFR flavor sprinkled throughout the rodeo, including in the bareback where Jessy Davis of Power turned in an 85-point ride to win the round. Davis made his seventh trip to the NFR in Las Vegas last month but failed to get much done.

“Finally,” Davis said when asked about his fine 85-pointer this night. “It feels great.”

Davis has had a solid start to 2017, with fine rides in Denver and Gillette. His ride Friday came aboard Brookman’s Bar Bandit.

“That one’s been around a long time,” he said. “It’s a really big horse. A lot of guys have won a lot of money on him.”

Davis is in a tight battle for the year-end circuit championship.

“That’s one thing about the whole deal. I can’t worry about,” Davis said. “Whether I get bucked off or not I’m going to try to win every round.”

He said he quickly put the disappointment of last month’s NFR behind him.

“That’s right,” Davis said with a grin. “Especially when that was 2016, and now we’re in a new year.”

The steer wrestling, meanwhile, featured an unusual situation after Newt Novich completed a snappy 4.2-second run. The effort was on the wrong steer, not the one the Twin Bridges man had drawn.

So the 24-year-old was lined up immediately for a do-over. And this time he posted a 3.9-second effort that was the best of the go-round.

“Very strange deal,” Novich said. “One you don’t want to come across very often.”

Novich was a PRCA rookie in 2016 and finished third in the bulldogging rookie-of-the-year standings.

“It could have been better, but it went good,” he said.

Just like Friday night.

Placing second in the round was Helena superstar Ty Erickson, who finished seventh in the world standings in 2016 and is regarded as one of the top steer wrestlers in the business.

Tyrell Smith of Sand Coulee came into the weekend having already clinched the year-end championship in the saddle bronc. But that didn’t stop him from earning top honors Friday night with an 82-point ride.

“Nice little horse,” Smith said of Brookman’s “In The River.” “I got behind, and when you do they’ll make you pay for it a few jumps. I kind of made my saddle spank me a few times, but it worked out pretty good.”

Smith missed out on qualifying for the NFR but just by a few hundred dollars. He was 16th in the 2016 world standings.

In the barrel racing, Carmel Wright of Roy earned first-place money after topping a talented group of jockeys.

Among them was Lisa Lockhart, who has qualified for the last 10 NFRs and last month won the average in Las Vegas. But Lockhart wasn’t riding her acclaimed horse Louie on Friday night, for the 13-year-old buckskin is sore. Instead, Lockhart rodeo her backup horse Chisum and finished third in the go-round, one spot ahead of defending circuit year-end champion Lindsay Kruse of Winston.

“Louie is on an extended absence. We’ll get him better and hopefully have him for the summer months,” Lockhart said.

Louie has carried Lockhart to at least 11 go-round victories at the NFR and is regarded as among the best barrel racing mounts in the country

Lockhart grew up in Circle but has lived near the Black Hills in South Dakota for years and usually competes in the Badlands Circuit. This is the first time she’s ever competed at the MPRF, and, she said, it was great to be home.

“Absolutely,” she smiled. “I just saw a classmate I hadn’t seen for 35 years.”

Then she laughed.

“I recognized him but couldn’t remember the name,” she said. “But I remembered his mom and dad’s name.”

Chisum, an 18-year-old chestnut gelding, is no rookie. Has he carried Lockhart to much success in Vegas?

“Yes sir, he’s been to every one of them with me, all 10,” Lockhart said when asked about Chisum’s NFR experience. “He’s been good to me.”

Wright, meanwhile, won her second straight MPRF go-round. She also wrapped up last year’s event with a third go-round triumph.

In the bull riding, there were just two qualified rides. So that means Parker Breding, Luke Gee and Cole Wagner are still separated by only about $700 at the top of the leaderboard. Gerald Eash of Trego won the go-round.

The rodeo continues Saturday night at 7 and concludes Sunday afternoon at 2.’’’’

Bareback Riding: 1. Jessy Davis, Power, 85 points on Bar Bandits of J-J Rodeo $2325.91; 2. Chase Erickson, Helena, 79, $1744.43; 3/4/4 Cavan Wrzesinski, Boulder; Blade Elliott, Centreville; and Tristan Hansen, Dillon, 78 points, $581.47 each; 5. Troy Vaira, Culbertson, 76.5; 6. Justin Miller, Billings, 76; 7. Chase Redfield, Opheim, 70; 8. Tucker Zingg, Glendive, 69; 9/10. Skyler Erickson, Powell, WY and Jeffery Zdziarski, Weston, WY, 68; No Score – Luke Wozney, Powell, WY

Team Roping: 1. Casey Tew, Billings/Kory Mytty, Lolo, 4.6, $2325.92 each; 2. Travis Tryan, Billings/John Robertson, Polson, 4.7, $1744.44; 3. Cody Tew, Belgrade/Chase Tryan, Helena, 4.8, $1162.96; 4. Delon Parker, Worden/Ryan Zurcher, Powell, WY, 5.3, $581.48; Shawn Bessette, Great Falls/Kasper, Roy, Mossleigh, AB, 5.4; 6. Brady Tryan, Huntley/Matt Robertson, Augusta, 6.2; 7. Brady Williams, Hammond/Dylan Johnson, Billings, 104; No Time – Miles Kobold, Shepherd/Josh Hodge, Volborg; Shaw Bird, Cut Bank/Casey Cummins, Lodge Grass; Max Kuttler, American Falls, ID/Ike Folsom, Dillon; Tanner Patzke, Klamath Falls, OR/Sid Sporer, Cody, WY; Dustin Bird, Cut Bank/Justin Viles, Cody, WY

High School Challenge:

Bareback Riding – 1. Shawn Perkins, Roberts, 69 points

Saddle Bronc Riding – 1. Caleb Meeks, Geraldine, 4 points; No Score - Koby Harwood, Browning and Brycen Williamson, Browning

Steer Wrestling: 1. Newt Novich, Twin Bridges, 3.9, $2325.91; 2. Ty Erickson, Helena, 4.1, $1744.43; 3. Mike Gollaher, Cascade, 4.5, $1162.95; 4. Hank Hollenbeck, Molt, 4.8, $581.47; 5. Kyle Callaway, Billings, 4.9; 6. Josh Boka, Dillon, 5.5; 7. Bill Boyce, Lewistown, 5.8; 8. Reef Mills, Fairfield, 6.2; 9/10. Tony Larsen, Decker and Straws Milan, Cochrane, AB, 6.4 No Times – Denver Roy, Dalemead, AB and Bridger Chambers, Stevensville.

Saddle Bronc Riding: 1. Tyrell Smith, Sand Coulee, 82 points on J-J Rodeos In the River, $2325.91; 2. Kendall Green, Cohagen, 80, $1744.43; 3. Chase Brooks, Deer Lodge, 79, $1162.95; 4. Gerald Eash, Trego, 78, $581.47; 5/6. Doug Fitzgerald, Babb and Travis Nelson, Philip, SD, 75; 7. Cody Miller, Dillon, 74; 8. JC DeSaveur, Roberts, 68; 9. CJ Thoreson, Dillon, 66; No Score – Tanner Hollenback, Dillon; Wyatt Hurst, Brockway; and Alan Gobert, Browning.

Tie Down Roping: 1. Austin Barstow, Springview, NE, 9.2, $2325.91; 2. J.C. Crowley, Poplar, 9.3, $1744.43; 3. Rawlee Yamauchi, Grace, ID, 9.5, $1162.95; 4. Logan Hofer, Magrath, AB, 9.9, $581.47; 5/6. Bode Scott, Custer and Hank Hollenbeck, Molt, 10.2; 7. Jake Hamilton, Casper, WY, 10.5; 8. Bryant Mikkelson, Buffalo, 11.1; 9. Dustin Bird, Cut Bank, 11.2; 10. Chad Johnson, Cut Bank, 20.3; No Times – George Marcenko, Havre; Sam Levine, Wolf Creek.

Barrel Racing: 1. Carmel Wright, Roy, 13.22, $2325.91; 2. Ashley Sudan, Whitefish, 13.26, $1744.43; 3. Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, SD, 13.29, $1162.95; 4. Lindsay Kruse, Great Falls, 13.32, $581.47; 5. Milee Dailey, Pray, 13.84; 6. Emily Kallenberger, Havre, 14.66; 7. Heather Knerr, Grass Range, 18.37; 8. Becky Fuson, Conrad, 18.44; 9. Lisa Anderson, Bozeman, 18.62; 10. Danielle Wright, Roy, 18.64; 11. Danna Jo Whitford, Browning, 18.69; 12. Mary Walker, Ennis, TX, 23.24

Bull Riding: 1. Gerald Eash, Trego, 72 points on J-J Rodeo, $3198.12; 2. Hawk Whitt, Thermopolis, WY 71, $2616.64; No Score – Shane Rummerl, Great Falls; Clay Applegate, Deer Lodge; Andrew Smith, Shawmut; Dustin Jenkins, Missoula; Devon Mitchell, Shepherd; Beau Nordahl, Bozeman; Ty Tescher, Sidney; Cole Wagner, Valier; Luke Gee, Stanford; and Parker Breding, Edgar.