PUEBLO, COLO. – This win couldn’t have come at a better time for steer wrestler Dakota Eldridge.
Scrambling to qualify for his third-consecutive Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Eldridge captured a big victory at the Wrangler Champions Challenge, Presented by Justin Boots with a 4.6-second time at the Colorado State Fair Sept. 2.
“This was awesome timing,” said Eldridge, who was competing for the B&W Trailer Hitches team. “I’m glad to be in these things (Wrangler Champions Challenges), and at the end of the year, they are good bullets to have.”
The $5,440 check was a huge boost for Eldridge. He was 16th in the Aug. 31 Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings with $54,025. He trailed 15th-place Casey Martin by $145.
“I have hit some big licks this year, but they have come off and on,” Eldridge said. “Then, I kind of drew the bad end of them there for two weeks and trying to do that and keep your head up is tough. I just tried to stay positive because rodeo is full of ups and downs and you are going to have the downs. So, when you get good steers, you have to be positive and that’s what I was able to do (Sept. 2).”
At the WCC event, Eldridge was riding his good friend and fellow steer wrestler Ty Erickson’s horse, Shakem, a former race horse.
“I left my horse (Rusty) at Ellensburg (Wash.),” Eldridge said. “I have never been on that horse (Shakem) before, but he was a really good horse. I saw Ty ride him a lot, and I was a little bit nervous to ride him, but I listened to Ty and he told me exactly how to ride him, and the horse was awesome. Ty’s a great buddy of mine. We are both young and we are both just starting out and I feel like we have a lot in common.”
Erickson was leading the Aug, 31 standings with $73,237. Eldridge punched his ticket to the Wrangler NFR in 2013 and 2014, finishing fifth both years.
The Elko, Nev., cowboy would love nothing more than to make another trip to Vegas this season.
“I just need to do my best to keep winning,” Eldridge said about his approach before the regular season concludes Sept. 30. “That’s too good of a rodeo to miss (the WNFR) when it is in my home state. This year is a crucial year to make it there. A guy can make some substantial money.
Other winners at the $123,600 rodeo were bareback rider Seth Hardwick (86 points on Harry Vold Rodeo Company’s Little Linda) on Team Las Vegas, team ropers Nick Sartain and Rich Skelton (5.6 seconds) on Team Experience Kissimmee, saddle bronc rider Jake Wright (87.5 points on Harry Vold Rodeo Company’s Happy Valley) on Team Wrangler, tie-down roper Marty Yates (7.9 seconds) on Team RAM, barrel racer Callie DuPerier (17.10 seconds) on Team Colorado Springs Airport, and bull rider Cody Teel (87.5 points on Mo Betta Rodeo’s Slick Hills) on Team Texas Landmen.
Courtesy of PRCA