LANCASTER, Calif. – Much like one must buy a ticket to win able to win the lottery, bull rider Dalton McMurtrie knew that he had to enter to have any chance of competing in the Oct. 17-18 RAM California Circuit Finals Rodeo.
The 23-year-old permit holder sat 18th in the year-end circuit standings, but decided to enter and throw his name in the hat for the rodeo – just in case. When several of the men in front of him didn’t meet the rodeo count or drew out, he found himself at his first RCCFR.
Three rides later, McMurtrie was the circuit champion and headed to his first RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Kissimmee, Fla., next spring.
“I went out on a long shot, got the chance to compete, and took advantage,” said McMurtrie, who won the three-head average with a score of 234 points. “I was playing with house money and had nothing to lose, so I went in and had fun and let it all hang out.”
He won the first round with a 78-point ride on Four Star Rodeo’s Sebastian, then placed fourth in the second round and split second in the third round.
McMurtrie earned a total of $6,339 for his performance in Lancaster, which was more than the $5,032 he had won while competing on his permit the last two seasons combined.
“I only went to about 15 rodeos last season, but I increased it to 30-plus this year,” said McMurtrie, who works for the Bureau of Land Management when he isn’t rodeoing. “I got on some practice bulls last weekend, and everything felt the way it was supposed to. I had to scratch and claw, but I got all three of them rode, which was a good feeling.”
It was a homecoming of sorts for McMurtrie, who lives in Inyokern, Calif., which is 70 minutes north of Lancaster.
“My family and my girlfriend were there to watch me and cheer me on,” he said. “It’s kind of like a hometown rodeo for me, and it felt like I was back in high school again because we used to ride in Lancaster.”
The rodeo was delayed by a day because of heavy rain and mudslides in the Lancaster area. Instead of the scheduled Oct. 16-17, the rodeo took place Oct. 17-18, with a lot of effort from the rodeo committee and community.
“When I first got there they were taking water out of the arena with a tractor, and were getting new dirt put in there,” McMurtrie said. “They did a great job getting the arena ready and putting on the whole rodeo. There were a lot of people who worked hard to make sure the livestock got there and everything worked.”
Other winners at the $166,465 rodeo were all-around cowboy Ryle Smith ($7,043 in tie-down roping and steer wrestling), bareback rider R.C. Landingham (242 points on three head), steer wrestler Sterling Lambert (14.4 seconds on three head), team ropers Lane Santos-Karney and Jordan Ketscher (19.4 seconds on three head), saddle bronc rider Justin Lawrence (202 points on three head), tie-down roper Ryle Smith (30.1 seconds on three head) and barrel racer Jolee Lautaret-Jordan (47.66 seconds on three head).
For complete coverage of the RCCFR, check out the Nov. 6 issue of the ProRodeo Sports News.
Courtesy of PRCA