SPANISH FORK, Utah – Since joining the PRCA in 2011, bareback rider Seth Hardwick has been chasing a coveted bid to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo – but has come up empty.
That appears to be on the verge of changing in 2015.
Hardwick has been near the top of the Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings the last several weeks and he only helped his cause at Saturday night’s Wrangler Champions Challenge, presented by Justin Boots, in Spanish Fork, Utah.
The Laramie, Wyo., cowboy registered an 86-point ride on Bar T Rodeo’s Rockin Ruby to capture the title before a capacity crowd at the Spanish Fork Fairgrounds.
“I had never even seen that horse before,” said Hardwick, 26. “I talked to Caleb Bennett about him because he knows a lot about the Bar T horses and he told me I had a good one. It was an awesome ride. I didn’t know if my score would hold up. There were some good guys and some great matchups after me, but it all worked out for me.”
Hardwick was fifth in the May 26 world standings with $37,585, and he should move even closer to the No. 1 spot, thanks to pocketing $5,440 at Spanish Fork.
“It’s absolutely great to fill up the bank account,” said Hardwick, who finished a career-best 17th in the world in 2013.
The Wrangler Champions Challenge events have definitely given Hardwick a jolt this year as he also won the May 16 Redding (Calif.) WCC event with an 87.5-point ride on Growney Brothers Rodeo’s Raggidy Ann.
“When I get to come to them (Wrangler Champions Challenge events) it’s great because it gives me another opportunity to keep up with the other guys and the Champions Challenges have been treating me really good this season because I’ve won a lot of money at them,” Hardwick said.
With all his success this season, Hardwick has some lofty expectations.
“Step 1 is getting to the NFR, but I have higher goals than just making it,” Hardwick said. “I’ve tried to rodeo a lot smarter this season and my traveling partner (Orin Larsen) and I haven’t killed ourselves with a bunch of overnight drives and stuff like that. There are a lot of rodeos left and we’re going into this summer run feeling fresh and healthy and we should do really well.”
Other winners at the $123,600 rodeo were steer wrestler Seth Brockman (3.8 seconds), team ropers Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill (4.6 seconds), saddle bronc rider Heith DeMoss (88.50 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Maple Leaf), tie-down roper Hunter Herrin (7.8 seconds), barrel racer Lisa Lockhart (17.17 seconds) and bull rider Beau Hill (84 points on Bar T Rodeo’s Broken Arrow).
Courtesy of PRCA