COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Steer wrestler Ricky Huddleston, a four-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier and the 1998 Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo champion, died April 6 of an apparent heart attack. He was 56.
Huddleston once told the ProRodeo Sports News he was “born into rodeo” – his dad, Dale, was a PRCA Gold Card member; his uncle, Don, was an eight-time NFR bulldogger – and for more than 20 years he embraced that family legacy and was among the best at his craft.
The McAlester, Okla., cowboy qualified for his first WNFR in 1985, winning Round 3 in a time of 3.1 seconds – just a tenth-of-a-second off the WNFR record – and Round 4 in 3.6 while just in his second full season as a PRCA cardholder. He returned to Las Vegas in 1993, 1995 and 1999.
That 1999 season ended up being Huddleston’s best: he finished fourth in the WNFR average after winning Round 7 with a time of 3.3 seconds and tied for the win in Round 3 to end up sixth in the world standings with earnings of $103,171.
In addition to those four WNFR qualifications, Huddleston had a number of near misses. He was 16th three times, 17th twice, 18th once, 19th twice and 20th once. That’s an impressive 13 top 20 finishes in a career that spanned 22 years.
“What’s important is consistency,” Huddleston told The Daily Oklahoman near the end of his career. “There are a lot of things that will mess with your head if you let them. You’ve just got to draw, score and bulldog good.”
He won the 1998 DNCFR in Pocatello, Idaho, with a 3.9-second run in the Wrangler Round finals, was the Dodge Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo champion in 1996-97 and won the Prairie Circuit year-end title in 1998.
In recent years he had worked as a road maintenance supervisor in Oklahoma.
Courtesy of PRCA