BILLINGS — Of all the naps he has enjoyed in his 20 years, this one ranks pretty high.
“It was the best nap I ever had,” declared Haven Meged.
Meged drove 17 hours straight north almost nonstop this past Monday from west Texas to eastern Montana for one reason:
To compete in the Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit Finals this weekend in Great Falls.
The Miles City cowboy leads the tie-down roping standings and is second in the all-around. The year-end and Finals champions qualify for the national circuit finals this March in Kissimmee, Florida.
Meged wants to use the MPRF as a springboard for his 2019 season.
And this Finals takes on added importance as, according to Meged, this is the last year that money won at circuit finals will count in the world standings.
Last year, Butte steer wrestler Bridger Chambers won the average in Great Falls, won a bunch of money in Kissimmee and went on to qualify for his first National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas and finish second in the 2018 world standings.
“If he doesn’t do well at the circuit finals, he doesn’t go to the NFR,” Meged noted of Chambers. “And he finished second in the world.
“It’s real important to be at the circuit finals.”
Meged has another reason for making the long, lonely drive back to Montana.
“I want to get some good money won and try to qualify for San Antonio when it comes around,” he said. San Antonio is the highest-paying rodeo of the regular season.
Meged has a lead of more than $9,000 over Bode Scott of Pryor in the tie-down roping. The 11-time Montana high school state champion had to cut his 2018 Montana rodeo season short, leaving for school at Tarleton State in Stephenville, Texas, on Aug. 23
Among his wins during the summer were Belt and Red Lodge, the latter coming during the Fourth of July run against a world-class field.
He bypassed the Northern Rodeo Association Finals and the MPRC Steer Roping Finals in the fall to stay in Texas for school.
Meged was competing in Odessa, Texas, on Monday where he placed in the first round and was in the money for the second round and the average. He left the west Texas town at 5 p.m. on Monday evening, pointing his rig north. Meged was also hauling a trailer with his two horses.
“It’s 17 hours,” he said of the drive. “I’ve driven that long, but never straight through. I don’t like coffee and I don’t chew. I had a couple of pops and some snacks. I didn’t want to get too full and get tired. I had the air conditioning on.”
“The toughest part was when the sun went down until the sun camp back up,” Meged finished with a laugh.
Meged pulled over outside of Raton, New Mexico, located on the eastern border of the state for a short rest.
“I jumped in the back seat, got my blanket and turned the heater on a little bit,” he said.
Meged re-charged his batteries for an hour. “When my alarm went off … it was arrgh,” he said.
The break also proved to be well-timed. “I was able to blow through Denver at 75 miles an hour,” Meged added.
He and his horses pulled into the family homestead at 11:20 a.m.
But nobody was home. Both parents were at the sale barn in town, along with his grandmother, who later served him some spaghetti.
The MPRC Finals is just one big step of his planned rodeo journey. Meged wants to rodeo hard in 2019 and qualify for the NFR.
“My goal is to draw good and execute the best I can,” he said of his weekend in Great Falls. “I want to get as much money won to get my 2019 rolling.”
And Meged won’t drive all the way back to Texas after Sunday’s performance. He’s going to compete at a roping event in Oklahoma on Tuesday.