Written by: Susan Kanode
The process of becoming a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) starts when a contestant buys their permit.
Those rising stars were celebrated on Dec. 1, at the Permit Member Challenge of the Year rodeo at the South Point Equestrian Center. Competition was held in all of the PRCA’s standard events, bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping and bull riding. Contestants qualified to compete here with the top five permit holders for the year making the cut.
There were two repeat champions, Wyatt Bloom in the bareback riding and Jesse Brown in the steer wrestling. Both have put their professional rodeo aspirations on hold while they have been in college and were rodeo team mates at Montana State University in Bozeman.
Bloom, from Bend, Ore., recently graduated and is fulfilling a promise he made to his grandfather.
“My grandpa wanted me to rodeo on my permit for four years and wait to get my card until I graduated from college,” he said. “He died when I was a sophomore, but I made a promise to him and I kept it.”
Bloom won his first Permit Challenge buckle in 2014. He qualified to compete again last year but injuries kept him on the sideline. He competed at his fourth College National Finals Rodeo last June and is now ready to take his career and riding to the next level. He will be competing for the Resistol Rookie of the Year award in 2017.
Each contestant had two opportunities to compete. Times and scores were added together and the contestant with the best total won the championship and buckle to go with it. Bloom had a total score of 160 to earn the title.
Brown won his first title here last year and had so much fun he came back again to defend it. He ran his first steer a little bit down the pen and stopped the clock in 7.8 seconds. He came back and won the second round with a 4.5 and had the fastest total at 12.3.
The team roping champions hadn’t met until they were in the warm up arena. The PRCA contacted them and said they had each qualified but not with their regular partners. So, they texted back and forth, met after they got here and went out and did their jobs aboard borrowed horses. Jordan Tye from Canby, Ore., did the heeling for Ty Arnold from Midway, Texas. Both are juniors in college and are planning to finish their degrees.
The contestants were each given a package for qualifying and competing and got to wear a custom back number. They had VIP treatment at the South Point and got a taste of competing in Las Vegas.
Clay Stremler who is a native Nevadan was excited to win the saddle bronc riding in his home state. He had a total score of 145.5 points to earn the championship.
“This really means a lot,” he said. “It’s a big accomplishment and honor to be here and really cool to ride in Vegas.
The Permit Challenge has been held in conjunction with the NFR for eight years. Many of the winners come back to Vegas to compete at the NFR the next year. Clayton Biglow won the bareback riding at the South Point last year and is competing at the Thomas and Mack this year. The list also includes saddle bronc rider Rusty Wright and world champion bull rider Sage Kimzey.
It is held in cooperation with Benny Binion’s World Famous Bucking Horse & Bull Sale, which raises money for the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs.
2016 PRCA Permit Holder of the Year Challenge Champions
Bareback Riding – Wyatt Bloom, Bend, Oregon
Steer Wrestling – Jesse Brown, Baker City, Oregon
Team Roping – Jordan Tye, Canby, Oregon, and Ty Arnold, Midway, Texas,
Saddle Bronc Riding – Clay Stremler, Fallon, Nevada
Tie-Down Roping – John Douch, Okeechobee, Fla.
Bull Riding – Aaron Williams, Norco, Calif.