Fruita cowboy in hunt for title

Tyler Smith is still in the running for a possible bull riding world championship.

The 26-year-old Fruita cowboy is competing at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas this week and currently sits in second place in the overall season standings.

In the rough and sometimes brutal sport of bull riding, the National Finals Rodeo is the sport’s ultimate challenge, with riders competing in 10 rounds over the course of 10 days.

The best rider over the 10 rounds wins the National Finals event crown, and the overall world title is determined by earnings for the season. The world champion is crowned after the final round of the National Finals on Sunday.

After the first five rounds, Smith was in third place in the event standings with two second places, a fourth and two no scores.  He tied for fourth Tuesday in the sixth round.

Coming into Las Vegas, Smith had won $134,842 during the season, second to J.W. Harris of Mullen, Texas, who had a big lead with $182,666.

Cody Campbell of Summerville, Ore., was in third with $118,842, and Shane Proctor of Grand Coulee, Wash., was fourth at $117,926.

After five rounds in Las Vegas, Smith has won $35,756, Harris has $52,281, Proctor has $42,065, and Campbell has $26,440.

Proctor has won two rounds, and Harris and Campbell have won one round each. Harris is the only rider in the top four to have only one “no score” after five rounds.

Harris, 27, has been one of the best professional bull riders since joining the circuit in 2005. He won three straight world titles from 2008 to 2010, and he has won 11 events this year.

Smith’s parents, Jeannine and David Smith, are in Las Vegas to watch their son compete this week.

“It’s a little nerve-racking, but I’m happy for him,” Jeannine said. “My heart is always pounding for him.”

The top 10 riders for the season earned the right to compete in Las Vegas. This is the second time Smith has made the National Finals Rodeo. His first was in 2010.

Smith, who turned pro in 2008, placed in three rounds during the 2010 National Finals and finished in third place in the world standings with $156,132.

This season, Smith has won five events and shared one title.


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