By: Justin Felisko
April 15, 2016
BILLINGS, Mont. – Nevada Newman may have been a tad bit star struck during his first season on the Built Ford Tough Series, but the 23-year-old rookie has no plans of being caught by surprise inside RimRock Auto Arena at MetraPark this weekend.
Newman is competing at his first BFTS event in Billings, Montana, but he is no stranger to RimRock Auto Arena.
It was less than a year ago that Newman won the PRCA NILE Rodeo on Oct. 15 inside the 41-year-old arena with his first qualified ride (87 points on Savage) since undergoing left shoulder surgery in Dec. 2014.
“Billings was my first one back after my shoulder surgery,” Newman said. “My very first pro rodeo back and I wanted to make a statement. I came to Billings, won that, and I was ready to roll. I then told Matt (Triplett) I was going to some PBRs now. I am ready to rock.”
Billings would be the second to last rodeo he would go to before going all-in on making the PBR’s BFTS in 2016, and he returns to Billings ranked 21st in the PBR world standings.
“I competed in all of the PRCA events there, and I won it twice there actually,” Newman said. “I don’t know if it is because all of my family is there and stuff, but I always had pretty good luck there for some reason. I have been dreaming about riding at the PBR in Billings ever since I was watching the PBR in Billings.”
Newman, who also won a 2011 rodeo in Billings, grew up in Melstone, Montana. The Eastern Montana community is only 85 miles from Billings.
His grandfather, Rodney, used to own the well-known Newman Rodeo Company in Montana, and Newman really began to fall in love with the sport of bull riding through his grandfather.
Nevada could normally be found running around wreaking havoc inside Rimrock Auto Arena even way before he was winning PRCA rodeos at or attending the Built Ford Tough Series there as a kid.
“I used to go there when I was a little kid and my grandpa would have bulls and I would pull back the flanks and stuff,” Newman said. “I was probably 6,7,8,9,10 years old. I was a tiny little fart.”
PBR entertainer and Montana native Flint Rasmussen has known the Newman family for years. Rasmussen’s father, Stan, announced rodeos for Rodney and when Flint was beginning his career in Montana he would often cross paths with Nevada’s father, TJ, and uncle Robert, who were both two of the best pickup men in the state.
Flint believes Newman’s success as a bull rider can be traced back to his family’s Western lifestyle and being raised as a cowboy.
“The Newmans are big,” Rasmussen said. “They are horsemen. Ranchers. That helps kids. If you look at what Nevada Newman and Jess Lockwood are, they are not kids from town that decided to be bull riders. They are cowboys. They are ranchers. Since they were this big they have spent all of their time on a horse, so they know livestock. If you watch kids who ride horses all the time, they have a feel for how to ride things. They ride bulls better.”
Newman added, “Growing up in the rodeo world, everyone knew our family in Montana because of our rodeo company. Me and Matt both. It is going to be a good one for all of us Montana cowboys.”
Newman expects to have roughly 15 family and friends in attendance this weekend.
“All of my family from Melstone is coming over and family friends,” he said. My family is going to be there every night. They don’t get to go anywhere except Montana because it is so out of the way. It is going to be pretty awesome.”
Rasmussen said he would advise Newman and Lockwood to have someone else handle all of their ticket requests and appearance schedules. Rasmussen knows that when he comes to Billings everyone will come out of nowhere asking for free tickets and the last thing either rookie needs is another distraction outside of competing in their home state.
“I would say a lot like we do when we talk about the World Finals. Don’t be like the young horse that you try and take to the parade and rips up everything,” Rasmussen said. “There is going to be a lot of family. A lot of people wanting tickets. You hear players talking about this at the Super Bowl too. You have to make sure you take care of business. Let someone else handle all of that.”
Newman’s rookie year started with tremendous success after he won the first BFTS round of his career with an 88.25-point ride on Ante Up before following that with a memorable 87.75-point ride on Mississippi Hippy in St. Louis.
Since then, Newman has gotten a reminder of how tough the bovine competition is at the BFTS level, going 3-for-18.
He has bucked off three in a row heading into his Round 1 matchup against Banjo. Newman was bucked off by Banjo (2-0, BFTS) in 1.7 seconds two weeks ago in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Maybe some home cooking will be just what he needs.
“I always dreamed of riding in the Metra and I did in pro rodeo, and now I get to do it on tour,” Newman said. “I have just worked hard to be here and just have to keep doing it.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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