This year’s National Finals Rodeo features just one cowboy from Wyoming (aka the Cowboy State) as Hillsdale saddle bronc rider Brody Cress is the state’s lone representative.
The future, however, looks bright for Wyoming rodeo fans based on what’s going on at the Junior National Finals Rodeo.
Saturday at the Wrangler Rodeo Arena in the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, Braunson Sims from Evanston scored 90 points aboard Chrome Snap during the junior bareback competition. It was the first 90-point ride of the rodeo and has Sims sitting second in the average with 164 points. Kash Loyd of Cleburne, Texas, leads the average with 167 points on two head.
“I knew that horse was good because I had an 83 on him before,” Sims said. “They posted it last night and I saw that I had him so I was pretty happy.”
Sims also won the first go-round of junior saddle bronc with a 77-point ride. He’ll have his second ride in the event Sunday.
Sims has plenty of Wyoming company on the bareback and saddle bronc leaderboards.
Saratoga’s Tuker Carricato, who won the junior bareback title at last year’s Junior NFR, tied for first in the first go of the senior bareback; Rowdy Benjamin from Green River is fourth in the average in peewee bareback; and Eian Smith from Pinedale is third in the junior bareback average with a 159.
“We’ve got a good stock contractor in Casey Riggs with R and R Rodeo,” Steve Sims, Braunson’s father, said. “He’s these kids’ No. 1 fan. If they start getting bucked off he pulls the ponies down and gets it to where the kids can ride them and then he builds them back up.
“Braunson was getting bucked off left and right when he moved into the juniors. But Casey pulled down the ponies and got him some confidence. This is all thanks to Casey.”
Riggs might have gotten Braunson Sims pointed in the right direction, but the 12-year-old sixth grader did the hard work Saturday,
Chrome Snaps burst out of the chute and bucked his way to the middle of the arena before turning to the left and heading toward the packed stands. Sims stayed in the center, spurring the bronc for maximum points.
After the ride, with the fans cheering their approval, Sims ran out of the arena, where his fellow competitors offered their congratulations.
When announcer Steve Goedert read the score from the judges, the smile on Sims’ face grew even wider.
“That’s my first 90-point ride,” Sims said.
Chances are it won’t be his last.
“Braunson has been on a horse since he was 2 years old,” Steve Sims said. “He started on steers when he was 7. We went over to a rodeo in Rock Springs one night and he rode in the stock saddle.
“Then we went to Randolph (Utah) one night and we were late and his saddle was back in the truck. One of the stock contractors gave him some rigging and said, ‘Why don’t you try bareback?’ And he won. Ever since then he rides everything. And he’s the best roper in our branding pen. He’s just a cowboy.”
Steve Sims knows it’s disappointing that Wyoming has only Cress representing the Cowboy State at the NFR. But he also believes that won’t be the case in the future.
“I think when these kids get older that’s going to change,” he said. “Did you see the novice bareback riding here Friday? Those kids put on a riding clinic.”
So did Braunson Sims on Saturday.