July 18, 2018

Tarleton bareback rider claims event crown at College National Finals

STEPHENVILLE (June 18, 2018) — A ruptured appendix cost Tarleton State University bareback rider Tyler Berghuis two rodeos during the 2017-18 regular season.

It just made him tougher.

Now, he as answers to “national champion” after finishing atop the leaderboard at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo., last week.

“Part of me still cannot believe it happened,” he said. “I knew I had the potential to win it. All the hours of dedication to prepare myself paid off. I’m just so grateful for the support system of family and friends who believed in me every step of the way.”

Berghuis, a 22-year-old from Atwater, Minn., turned in a 78-point ride in the opening round, then hit 80 or better on each of his last three rides in his first appearance at the CNFR.

“There was a lot of adrenaline flowing through me coming into that last ride. I wanted the title. I was going to ride as aggressively as it took and not let up on my determination of being a national champion.”


The senior agriculture industries and agencies major won three of four rounds, including Saturday’s championship finals to become the 27th individual event champion in the history of Tarleton’s storied rodeo program.

“Tyler had a great finish,” said Tarleton rodeo coach Mark Eakin. “He worked his tail off for four years, then goes up there and wins three out of four rounds. It was a dream week for him. It was a lot of fun to be part of it.”

Even being absent for two fall rodeos, the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Southwest Region bareback champion was the picture of consistency for 2018. He earned three second-place finishes and was no lower than fourth in seven of 10 NIRA regular-season stops.

His dominance at Casper led Tarleton’s men’s team to second place. The men accumulated 650 points, finishing 100 behind Panhandle State for the team title.

Three-time CNFR qualifier Brody Cress also aided the team effort with the top score in the saddle bronc finals, an 82.5, for sixth overall.

Tarleton’s other entrant in Saturday’s finals, tie-down roper Kyle Parrish, missed his last calf to slip two spots out of the top 10 in the event.

“The first part of the week was really rough on us,” Eakin said. “We made a few mistakes and beat ourselves, but I’m really proud of the way we fought back. I never like winning second, but coming from that far down and fighting back to become reserve national champions was pretty good.”


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