This was an opportunity bareback rider Tanner Aus knew he couldn't let slip through his hands.
Aus drew Frontier Rodeo's Showstomper. He capitalized.
The Granite Falls, Minn., cowboy had an 89-point ride on the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo horse to capture the victory at the Southeastern Livestock Exposition at Garrett Coliseum.
"Once I saw I had drawn that horse, I was thinking about it for a while," said Aus, 27. "I was gritting my teeth the whole way over to Montgomery, and I haven't been that excited to get on one in a long time. I saw a couple of videos of more recent trips he has had, and he has just been outstanding. He leaves like a freight train and he's an incredible athlete and jumps and kicks, and if you stub your toe, you will be on the ground. It was a big sigh of relief when I heard the whistle and it went well."
Aus earned $4,202 for his first career victory at Montgomery. The rodeo took place March 15-17.
"I was able to keep my focus and take care of business," said Aus, who made his ride March 15. "This is the first time I've competed in Montgomery, and I'm sure glad I put my name in the hat there. I drew one of the best bucking horses in the world and I was very thankful."
Thanks to his Montgomery performance, Aus moved up to 11th in the PRCA World Standings with $21,011. Aus has qualified for the Wrangler NFR three times - 2015-17. He finished a career-best third in last year's world standings.
"This is awesome to win some money (in Montgomery)," Aus said. "I had some goals this winter that I didn't quite meet, but I feel like I'm riding good now and I'm focused. I'm going to take the month of May off because my wife (Lonissa) and I are expecting, and we are really looking forward to that. I have the Rodeo Austin (Texas) semis coming up (March 22). That is just the way the sport is, you keep plugging away, and I have a long season ahead of me."
Aus said he and Lonissa are expecting a baby girl in mid-May.
"There's definitely some added pressure," Aus said. "We practice on staying focused and putting things out of our mind that don't have to do with bareback riding, but there are some things that are more important in life. This adds some pressure (expecting a baby), but it is all good stuff and we are very thankful. My professional goal is to win a gold buckle. That's something I've had my eye on since I was a little kid riding bucking horses at Minnesota Little Britches rodeos."
Other winners at the $90,637 rodeo were all-around cowboy Daylon Swearingen ($4,033 bareback riding and bull riding), steer wrestler Tyler Waguespack (5.2 seconds), team ropers Daniel Robertson/Mark Gentry (4.3 seconds), saddle bronc rider Brody Cress (90.5 points on Frontier Rodeo's Maple Leaf), tie-down roper Wesley Brunson (7.9 seconds), barrel racer Kassidy Lantis (16.58 seconds), and bull rider Daylon Swearingen (87 points on Frontier Rodeo's Pit Boss).
Cress established a record at the Southeastern Livestock Exposition. Cress broke Cody Wright's mark of 90 points set in 2014.