February 2, 2023

LAS VEGAS – It was a great start to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for world title contender Sage Newman.

Newman of Melstone won the first Saddle Bronc Go-Round Thursday during opening night of the NFR at the Thomas & Mack Center. Newman rode Big Stone Rodeo’s Rubels with 89 points for $28,914, beating Dawson Hay of Wildwood, Alberta and Zeke Thurston of Big Valley, Alberta, who took second place with 87.5 points.

Newman, 24, who won an NFR go-round for the first time on Thursday, was ranked 11th in the world last season. He arrived in Las Vegas this year ranked world No. 1 in the Saddle Bronc with $253,190.84 in earnings this season and is looking to win his first title.

Deer Lodge’s Chase Brooks, ranked No. 13 in the world, had a no-score ride in the Saddle Bronc on Thursday. No. 3 Brody Cress of Hillsdale, Wyoming placed fifth with an 86.5 ride. Tanner Butner of Daniel, Wyoming finished 15th on an 80-point ride.

Newman set the pace for Montana’s contingent of competitors Thursday night.

Clay Trayn of Billings and partner Jade Corkill of Fallon, Nevada, placed second in Round 1 of the team roping with a time of 4.5 seconds for $22,851. The tandem of Jr. Dees (Aurora, SD) and Levi Lord (Sturgis, SD) won the opening round with a time of 4.3 seconds.

Tryan, appearing in his 22nd NFR, started the 10-day event ranked 2nd in the world for team-roping headers ($144,663.14). He is a three-time world champion.

2019 World Steer Wrestling Champion Ty Erickson from Helena returned to the NFR after a two-year hiatus and placed fourth in the first round on Thursday with a score of 4.5 seconds and earned $12,125. Nick Guy of Sparta, Wisconsin won the go round with a time of 3.8 seconds. Jesse Brown, riding the rodeo at Montana State University, finished second in 4.0 seconds.

Erickson makes his seventh NFR appearance overall. It came in at #6 in the world ($107,784.30). Timmy Sparing, a fellow Helena Steer wrestler, competed at number 14 and competed in his first final. In lap 1 he didn’t take any time. Sparing earned $81,312.40 this year.

Miles City’s Haven Meged, world No. 3 in tie-down roping (and fifth in all-around), hit an 8.8-second score in Thursday’s opening round, good for a tie for fifth place with Cory Solomon (Prairie View, Texas) and $6,063.

Three-time champion Caleb Smidt of Bellville, Texas won the low-voltage go-round in 7.5 seconds.

Meged won a world title in his NFR debut in 2019. Last year he finished second in the NFR and second in the world rankings. He had $156,027.42 in winnings entering this year’s Finals.

Riding bareback, Caleb Bennett of Corvallis aboard Rand The Man of Four Star Rodeo posted a first round score of 79. Bennett, who made his 10th NFR appearance in the past 11 years, finished at No. 3 in the world ($147,290.19) but didn’t make the money on Thursday.

Six-time world champion Kaycee Feild of Genola, Utah, won Thursday’s bareback go-round with a score of 87.5. World No. 2 Cole Reiner of Buffalo, Wyoming had a first-round score of 83.5.

Circle native Lisa Lockhart, aged 57 and in her 16th straight NFR, set a time of 13.98 on Thursday’s first lap in barrel racing and finished no place. Wenda Johnson of Pawhuska, Oklahoma won the go round in 13.57 seconds.

Lockhart, ranked 14th in the world, pocketed $84,879.91 this year.

On Wednesday, Belgrade native Cadee Williams won the overall competition at the National Finals Breakaway Roping competition in Las Vegas. Williams’ time of 31.9 seconds earned her $13,866. Martha Angelone from Stephenville, Texas won the world title.

Round 2 of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo will be held at the Thomas & Mack Center on Friday.

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