By Tom Zulewski
Iron County Today
LAS VEGAS — All Milford’s Ryder Wright needed to do was earn one more scoring ride to join the family legacy as a saddle bronc world champion.
When he missed his horse out, the worry kicked in and the calculators got some extra work.
After all was tabulated, Wright had just enough in his point total to hold off Brody Cress and win the gold buckle Saturday night at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. With a seventh-place check for the aggregate, Wright’s final season total was $284,938.
“When the flag came out on the markout, I thought it cost me the world title,” said Wright, who failed to score on only two of his 10 NFR rides. “I was lucky enough to get it. … barely.”
From high-school champion to Wrangler NFR world champion, the feeling hasn’t quite sunk in for the youngest Wright, who qualified eighth for his second trip to the Thomas & Mack Center.
“It’s crazy to think about, but I just try to stay positive and keep riding like I have been,” he said. “I’ve been dreaming about this since I started coming here in 2003 with my dad.”
And in the appropriate full-circle moment to the family’s fifth saddle bronc world title, dad Cody Wright — the 2008 and 2010 champion — presented the gold buckle to his son.
“It doesn’t get any more special than that,” Ryder said.
With Brody Cress finishing fourth in Round 10, his 86-point ride completed a perfect run to the average title and $67,269 in bonus money. The native of Hillsdale, Wyoming finished second to Wright for the gold buckle by $2,651, but knew he gave everything he had for 10 straight nights.
“It’s disappointing, but I’m ecstatic for Ryder,” said Cress, who competes in college rodeo for Tarleton State University in Texas. “That’s the amazing part about rodeo. We’re all friends and we’re supporting each other.
“Realistically, you’re going up against whatever horse you’re getting on. Whatever else happens is out of your control.”
Among the rest of the Wright family in Round 10, Jake Wright and brother-in-law CoBurn Bradshaw tied for second with 86.5 points each. Bradshaw finished third in the aggregate and overall with a season total of $274,576, just over $10,000 behind Ryder Wright.
Jake Wright finished sixth in the aggregate and eighth overall with $168,449.
CAPTION: Ryder Wright poses with his gold buckle after winning the saddle bronc world title at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. The 19-year-old finished with $284,938 for the season.