SAN ANGELO, TX – Dakota Eldridge just plain needed that.
On the opening night of the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo at Foster Communications Coliseum, Eldridge flattened his steer to the ground in 3.4 seconds to take the first-round steer wrestling lead and give him an edge as he readies for his second-round run Sunday afternoon.
“This is one of those rodeos that I seem to draw good steers when I get here,” said Eldridge, a nine-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Elko, Nevada. “You’ve got rodeos throughout the year that you’ve had some good luck at, and it helps when you get to those. This one is one of those for me.
“I have had one of the worst winters I’ve ever had rodeoing, but that’s something you’ve got to go through sometimes. You have to keep a positive attitude.”
His mind is right, in spite of having earned less than $8,000 in ProRodeo so far this season. Because of that, he is not among the top 50 in the world standings as of this week, which is rather unusual for the Nevada cowboy. His worst season since he launched his career came in 2018, and he still finished among the top 25.
“This rodeo’s bailed me out before,” he said. “The horse I’ve been riding, Benz, has been hurt, so that’s been part of it.
“I rode Curtis Cassidy’s horse, Tyson, tonight, and he just makes my job that much easier. When you’ve got a good horse, you just have to worry about yourself.”
Tyson has been named the PRCA Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year on multiple occasions, including this past season. Benz, owned by fellow steer wrestler Clayton Hass, has also been recognized as one of the elite bulldogging horses in the sport.
“That just goes to show you how important horsepower is in our event,” said Eldridge, who won the NFR average championships in 2015 and 2017. “I can’t thank Clayton and Curtis for letting me ride those great horses and giving me a chance to win because of it.”
He jumped on Tyson at The American and had great success there, earning more than $25,000. Even though it’s a large payout, the money earned in Arlington, Texas, does not count toward standings in the PRCA, rodeo’s largest sanctioning body whose members battle all year to advance to the NFR, the sport’s grand finale.
Eldridge has capitalized well on his west Texas runs in the past. He’s made the NFR nine out of the last 10 years, and he is the defending San Angelo champion. He has given himself a chance to repeat. The hope is to have a solid run again Sunday and be one of the top 12 through the preliminary rounds to qualify for Championship Night on Friday, April 14.
Watch Dakota Eldridge's 3.4-second Steer Wrestling run during performance 1 of the 2023 San Angelo Rodeo:
“Winning this rodeo back-to-back would be amazing, because it would shoot me up there not only in the top 50 but close to the top 15,” Eldridge said, pointing out that the rodeo’s big payout offers that opportunity. “I’ve always done well at this rodeo, and I always have good luck a the California rodeos we go to after this. With me being on Tyson out there, I’m super excited about my chances.”
First things first, though; he needs to secure as many dollars as he can, and he knows San Angelo is the right place to do it.”
“That building has a lot of energy to it, and it reminds me of the Thomas & Mack a little bit,” he said comparing Foster Communications Coliseum to the home of the NFR since 1985. “You’ve got a bunch of fans that really now rodeo, and they’re excited to see you win and do well.”
Rodeo is special in this part of the world, and the cowboys are excited to return every year.
More about the First Performance of the 2023 San Angelo Rodeo:
San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo, March 31-April 14, 2023
Standings after 1st Performance
Bareback riding leaders: 1. Clayton Biglow, 87 points on Macza Pro Rodeo’s Stevie Knicks; 2. Richmond Champion, 84.5; 3. R.C. Landingham, 84; 4. Chad Rutherford, 81.5; 5. Yance Day, 80; 6. Clay Stone, 79; 7. Will Norstrom, 73; no other qualified rides.
Steer wrestling: First round leaders: 1. Dakota Eldridge, 3.4 seconds; 2. Will Lummus, 3.5; 3. Jay Williamson, 3.7; 4. (tie) Eli Lord, Logan Kenline and Denard Butler, 3.8; 7. Wade Steffen, 4.0; 8. Grant Peterson, 4.1. Second round leaders: 1. Cody Devers, 3.5 seconds; 2. Brandon Harrison, 3.8; 3. Stan Branco, 3.9; 4. (tie) Joe Nelson and Talon Roseland, 4.1; 6. (tie) Trey Jackson and Levi Rudd. Average leaders: 1. Cody Devers, 8.2 seconds on two runs; 2. Jay Williamson, 8.4; 3. Talon Roseland, 8.5; 4. Mason Couch, 8.8; 5. Boyd Sawyer, 9.3; 6. Gage Hesse, 9.7.
Team roping: First round leaders: 1. J.C. Yeahquo/L.J. Yeahquo, 3.9 seconds; 2. Cyle Denison/Cody Hogan, 4.0; 3. (tie) McCray Profili/McCoyh Profili and Bubba Buckaloo/Riley Wakefield, 4.3; 5. (tie) Ty Arnold/Kaden Profili, Clint Keller/Morgan Jones and Korbin Rice/Jake South, 4.4; 8. (tie) Tanner Green/Caleb Green and Garrett Tonozzi/Corey Hendrick, 4.5. Second round leaders: 1. (tie) Coy Brittain/Colton Brittain and Billy Bob Brown/Kirby Blankenship, 4.0 seconds; 3. Garett Chick/B.J. Dugger, 4.1; 4. (tie) Tanner Green/Caleb Green and Reno Stoebner/Whit Kitchens, 4.2; 6. J.C. Yeahquo/L.J. Yeahquo, 4.5. Average leaders: 1. J.C. Yeahquo/L.J. Yeahquo, 8.4 seconds on two runs; 2. Tanner Green/Caleb Green, 8.7; 3. Garrett Tonozzi/Corey Hendrick, 9.5; 4. Tanner James/Jason Johe, 9.6; 5. Chris Francis/Cade Passig, 9.7; 6. Jase Staudt/Jhett Trenary; 9.8.
Saddle bronc riding leaders: 1. Wade Sundell, 83 points on Macza Pro Rodeo’s Pearl Harbour; 2. Kai Rockhill, 82.5; 3. Carson Bingham, 80; 4. Jacob Benham, 78; 5. (tie) Darcy Radel and Chris Williams76; 7. Lavern Borntreger, 74; 8. Brady Hill, 72.
Tie-down roping: First round leaders: 1. (tie) Hayden Ford and Chase Webster, 7.6 seconds; 3. (tie) Blake Ash, Roan Hudson and Ryan Jarrett, 8.1; 6. Cory Rowland, 8.3; 7. (tie) Austin Thomas Hines, Justin Smith and Sy Felton, 8.4. Second round leaders: 1. Justin Smith, 6.9 seconds, 2. Jerry Adamson, 7.2; 3. Preston Pederson, 7.4; 4. Trenton Smith, 7.6; 5. (tie) Cimarron Boardman and Beau Cooper, 7.7. Average leaders: 1. Justin Smith, 15.3 seconds on two runs; 2. Jerry Adamson, 15.8; 3. Hayden Ford, 16.7; 4. Cody Waldrop, 16.8; 5. Chase Webster, 17.0; 6. Beau Cooper, 17.1.
Barrel racing: First round: 1. Jimmie Smith-Tew, 15.80 second., $6,582; 2. (tie) Timber Allenbrand and Kassie Mowry, 15.82, $5,171 each; 4. Taycie Matthews, 15.83, $4,074; 5. Janet Staton, 15.89, $3,134; 6. Summer Kosel, 15.90, $2,507; 7. (tie) Nicole Driggers, Jackie Ganter, Katie Halbert and Amanda Welsh, 1,175 each. Second round leaders: 1. Nicole Love, 14.27 seconds; 2. Reagan Goudeau, 14.48; 3. (tie) Karsen Jackson and Seirra Scott-Williams, 14.57; 5. Andrea Haden, 14.72; 6. Lila Rose Jardine, 14.84; 7. Kallie Gates, 14.96; 8. Mitzi Duke, 15.38; 9. Heidi Gibson, 15.68; 10. Graced Gardiner, 19.80. Average leaders: 1. Nicole Love, 30.87 seconds on two runs; 2. Karsen Jackson, 30.88; 3. Reagan Goudeau, 31.11; 4. Sierra Scott-Williams, 31.22; 5. Andrea Haden, 31.36; 6. Lila Rose Jardine, 31.48; 7. Kallie Yates, 31.55; 8. Mitzi Duke, 31.98; 9. Heidi Gibson, 32.323; 10. Grace Gardiner, 36.38.
Bull riding leaders: 1. Levi Schonebaum, 77 points on Lancaster & Jones’ This Is It; no other qualified rides.