Troy Crowser entered the Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo this weekend with no shot at advancing to March's national rodeo based solely on his place in the standings.
The 24-year-old sat in fifth in the saddle bronc riding standings and needed to win the weekend average to claim his spot in Oklahoma City. Though the Whitewood, S.D., cowboy scored just 74 points and finished in sixth place in the fourth go-round on Sunday, it was easily enough to hold off Keldron, S.D., native Chuck Schmidt.
"I had a pretty dang good lead 'cause obviously I didn't do that great today," Crowser said. "I didn't even pull a check but it was just good enough. ... (I'm) like really excited. It was kind of a big goal of mine."
Crowser's goal almost went unfulfilled. At one point about midway through his eight-second run, his horse nearly bucked him from his seat and into the All Seasons Arena dirt.
Such a fall would have taken him out of consideration for Oklahoma City.
"Right about the middle of the ride he popped me straight up out of my saddle," Crowser said. "I somehow tried really hard to get back down. ... It did (scare me) because I knew exactly what I needed to do and I needed to get a score."
Schmidt needed a 91 on his re-ride to tie Crowser but scored a 75 to finish second in the average.
"I just didn't ride like I should've, didn't stick to my basics," Schmidt said.
Competitors have to stay on their horses for a full eight-seconds and hold on with only one hand.
Faith, S.D., cowboy Cole Elshere said the sport is easier on the body than bareback riding is. Still, the 22-year-old has broken bones and suffered concussions from the event.
Elshere scored a 77 with a bum ankle on Sunday. While not good enough to win the average, Elshere easily won the year-end title to go to nationals for the third time.
"I've had a good run," Elshere said, smiling.
Kennebec, S.D., cowboy Dawson Jandreau scored an 82 to win the go-round.