By Ted Harbin/for the Lea County Fair & PRCA Rodeo
LOVINGTON, N.M. – Quite simply, steer wrestler Ty Erickson is having the best season of his young professional career.
On Aug. 6 at Jake McClure Arena, Erickson put on a dominating performance to take the lead in the first and second rounds and the two-run average; he knocked down his first steer in 3.9 seconds during the afternoon competition, then followed that up with a 4.2 in the first performance of the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.
“I drew real well,” said Erickson, 23, of Helena, Mont. “That first one I wasn’t expecting it, but he slowed up and stopped right in the front of the chute. I was lucky to catch him, so I hustled and went to scrambling and was lucky enough to get him tipped over in 3.9. I knew I had a good (steer) tonight.
“I just wanted to be real smart, get a good start and make a good run on the ground tonight.”
He did, but that seems to have been the normal pattern for the 6-foot-6 Montana cowboy. So far this season, he has earned $40,133 wrestling bovines and sits 11th in the Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings. He credits his traveling partner, K.C. Jones, and Jones’ good horse, Tebow.
“That’s an awesome horse,” he said of the sorrel gelding. “I was fortunate enough to take him out to California this past spring, and I won Red Bluff on him.
“He stands so good in the corner (of the timed-event box). When you nod your head to start the run, you can drop your reins when you want to. He’s not moving when you nod; that’s why he’s so much better than the other horses out here because he scores so well.”
A week ago, Tebow helped Jones and another Helena cowboy, Timmy Sparing, to share a three-way tie for the championship in Dodge City, Kan. Two weeks ago, Jones earned his first Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days title on his talented mount.
When he’s not competing, Jones serves as a mentor and a hazer for the younger bulldoggers, making sure the steers are in good position when it’s time to finish off a run.
“You don’t have to worry about K.C., because you know he’s always going to be there,” said Erickson, the 2011 PRCA Resistol Steer Wrestling Rookie of the Year. “You know he’s going to be pulling for you and helping you out and giving you the best go you can.”
It’s working rather well. If things continue, Erickson will be making a run at the biggest ProRodeo in the world, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
“My goal is to make the finals this year, and I have a good shot now,” he said. “Hopefully this will help out.”