For the third time in his career, Helena steer wrestler Ty Erickson will enter the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo ranked No. 1 in the world. Erickson, 29, closed out the regular season having garnered $146,080 in prize monies. He holds a $41,500 lead over Hunter Cure (Holliday, Texas), who is sitting second at $104,567.
His prior regular season PRCA top rankings took place in 2015 and 2017. The WNFR is being held in Las Vegas’ Thomas & Mack Center, December 5-14.
Last year, Erickson finished seventh in the year-end standings, at $170,880, while cracking the $1 million in career earnings. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder – twice named the Independent Record’s Male Athlete of the Year (2014-15) – has amassed $1,147,167 during his 8-years on the PRCA tour.
Five-time world champion Luke Branquino once wrote to this reporter that “Ty Erickson is a class act,” in an email from his home in California.
“He’s a humble, gentle individual, polite and respects everyone. And everyone respects him for that,” Branquino said in 2014. “As a steer wrestler, Ty is one of the most athletic big guys I have seen in a long time. I’m looking forward to watching him only get stronger in the sport of rodeo.”
And stronger he has gotten.
Claimed his 2nd American $100K title
Erickson earned a big shot in the arm earlier this year by capturing his second RFD-TV’s American Rodeo championship, for $100,000, in Arlington, Texas. But unlike his 2016 American crown, the rodeo is now sanctioned by the PRCA, with half of the winnings counting for the world standings.
Also unlike his win three years ago – when he had to fly to a PRCA Champions Challenge event immediately afterwards – this year, his wife, Cierra, was able to celebrate with him.
“It was a lot more fun this year,” Erickson told tsln.com. “I got to sit there, enjoy it, and soak it all in with my friends and my family.”
He made it to the Round of 8 in AT&T Stadium, placing third with a throw of 4.33 seconds, and then capped off the victory with the quickest time in the Final Four Shootout, at 4.2.
Erickson was aboard two-time AQHA Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year, Scooter, owned by Kyle Irwin and Tyler Pearson, according to tsln.com. Pearson did the hazing for him.
“Winning (the money) is great, and it will give me a jump start to making the National Finals again,” the Capital High and Montana State alum said afterwards. “But I’m not going to change the way I rodeo. I’m (traveling) with three other guys, so I’ll keep going everywhere they’re wanting to go and keep helping them out as much as I can.”
Another huge triumph occurred at Denver’s National Western Stock Show Rodeo, when he bulldogged three critters to the ground in 11.9 seconds, while pocketing $10,024.
Erickson garnered championships at Prescott, Arizona’s, Worldest Oldest Rodeo, in 9.1 for two, and the Magic Valley Stampede (tie), in Filer, Idaho, in 3.5 seconds, collecting $5,871 and $3,321, respectively.
His other wins included the Central Montana Ram Pro Rodeo (tie), in Lewistown (3.9, $1,597); Beaumont, Texas’ YMBL Championship Rodeo ($1,602); and the Belt Rodeo ($1,097).
Among his quickest wins was a 3.6-second throw at Pioneer Days, in Ogden, Utah.
Five top-7 PRCA year-end placings
This is Erickson’s sixth consecutive WNFR qualification, and he has placed in the top-7 in the year-end standings in each of the previous five years. His best showing occurred in 2017, when he took runner-up with earnings of $263,267, finishing just $2,200 away from a world championship.
Erickson’s highest showing in the WFNR average was second-place in 2014.
The huge amounts of money that can be earned in the 10 go-rounds at the Finals, competing against the best in the world, leaves the sport’s year-end championships wide open. And perhaps this is Ty Erickson’s turn to summit rodeo’s Mount Everest.
Curt Synness can be reached at 594-2878 or email@example.com. He’s also on Twitter @curtsynness_IR