Teamwork key to Milan’s NFR success in Las Vegas

Tanner Milan (R) and brother Baillie (L on horse) compete in Round 2 of the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas on Friday December 2nd, 2015. PRCA Photo by Larry Smith. LARRY SMITH / PRCA


More from Ted Stovin, For the Calgary Herald

Published on: December 4, 2015 | Last Updated: December 4, 2015 10:54 PM MST

LAS VEGAS — Two of the three Milan brothers from Cochrane have qualified for the steer wrestling at the National Finals Rodeo.

Straws, 29, did so in 2013, the lone Canadian to qualify that year. Tanner, 32, is part of a six-contestant contingent from north of the 49th this year.

Their oldest brother has been here more than once in the arena, but it’s been on the other side of the box.

“It’s huge, they are the ones that set up the whole run,” Tanner told of his older brother and hazer, Baillie. “It’s a very thankless job. They don’t get recognized as much as they should. If they’re not there, then you don’t catch your steer.”

On Friday night in Sin City, the team earned $13,327 for finishing tied for third in the round thanks to a time of 3.7 seconds. The money might be in Tanner’s name on the books, however, it gets split between them.

“Bailey is so damn good,” Tanner said. “I have so much confidence in him over there. It’s just a great combination. We’ve run so many steers together. It’s great to have family here to support you. I don’t second-guess nothing when he’s there. He’s always where he needs to be.”

Family in rodeo means close friends, too, like the 2015 Canadian steer wrestling season leader.

“Scott Guenthner, he’s been great, great help for me too,” Tanner said. “He’s got Itsy down here for me for backup.”

Itsy is the backup horse, but Milan rode Smoke to earn his first cheque ever in Las Vegas. After two rounds, he’s near the bottom of the aggregate but ranks eighth in the world standings.

“Yeah it sure was better than last night,” Milan said. “It feels great to get a cheque. (I’ve) just got to keep going on now I guess.

“Just getting a time last night was a big bonus, I’m just going to keep going at it and make sure I get everything caught.”

There’s a cheque in the bank now for both Larsen brothers of Manitoba. Tyrel Larsen took third in the saddle bronc courtesy of an 81.5 on Sabre from Rocky Mountain Rodeo for $15,654.

“It’s kind of like the weight’s off your shoulder,” Tyrel said. “It was nerve-racking last night. I feel like me and Orin have settled down a little bit and (can) just have fun now.”

Tyrel jumped to 12th in the world standings, up three spots from 15th.

“It’s pretty surreal, especially being here with my brother, Orin,” Tyrel said. “Orin placed last night, and I placed tonight, so hopefully we can keep the balling rolling and keep placing.”

Orin, a bareback rider, has two scores on the board, but he’s in the lowest position of those who’ve qualified on both. Orin dropped two spots in the world standings due to not placing Friday.

Clint Laye got the monkey off his back on Friday night in the Thomas & Mack at this first NFR. Laye rode Hollywood Hills from Beutler & Sons of Oklahoma to a score of 81. Hollywood Hills spun at about the four-second mark, bucking throughout to leave the Cadogan, Alta., man fifth on the night for a cheque worth $6,769. With eight rounds to go, he’s already up three spots, into 10th in the world.

A pair of Calgary Stampede bareback horses carried a pair of American Cowboys to the pay window. Soap Bubbles helped Austin Foss of Terrebonne, Ore., to a third best payday worth $15,654 while Trail Dust got Tim O’Connell from Zwingle, Iowa, sixth in the round for $4,231.

Zeke Thurston stayed on bartender from Sutton Rodeos but was out of the money. His two scores rank him sixth in the aggregate thus far. Deb Guelly ran the cloverleaf pattern in a time of 14.21 and failed to earn a cheque for the second straight night.