SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Tyrel Larsen got a nice surprise Feb. 27 at the Scottsdale Wrangler Champions Challenge, presented by Justin Boots. After Larsen rode for 85.5 points on Smoke Ring of the Salt River Rodeo Company, he thought it was good for a second-place check.
Actually, he was one better. Larsen edged two-time World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider Taos Muncy by a half-point to win the event and a $5,000 check. That moved him up 11 spots to 10th in the Windham Weaponry High Performance World Standings.
“I actually thought Taos was 86, so I figured he was going to win,” Larsen said. “I just wanted a good check, because the last few weeks haven’t gone too well.”
Larsen, a resident of Inglis, Manitoba, had won $7,079 before Thursday’s success. He earned $48,928 a year ago and finished 16th in the world to barely miss qualifying for his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
“Every little bit you win can help,” Larsen said. “I’d never been that close to the NFR before, so I was excited to do that well. At the same time, it was disappointing to be that close and not make it.”
Larsen, 24, earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration while rodeoing for Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell, Okla. He was a four-time qualifier for the College National Finals Rodeo.
“I’ve improved bit by bit and being at Panhandle State really helped,” he said. “(Coach) Craig Latham and (assistant) Robert Etbauer really helped me out. They were my saving grace, for sure.”
As for his ride on Smoke Ring, it didn’t begin well.
“He was a little slow out of the gate, but when I got under my rein, it felt pretty good,” Larsen said. “I’d never been on him, but Taos and some other guys told me he’d be good. He came as advertised.”
Other winners in the rodeo were bareback rider Winn Ratliff, with 86 points on a re-ride; steer wrestler Trevor Knowles, who also won the Feb. 4 WCC in Rapid City, S.D., in 4.6 seconds; tie-down roper Ryan Watkins in 7.9 seconds; team ropers Kaleb Driggers and Patrick Smith in 4.5 seconds; barrel racer Lisa Lockhart in 16.84 seconds; and bull rider Cody Campbell with 89 points.
Courtesy of PRCA