Trey Watts looked over the order of go and knew what he had to do.
At the North American Championship Rodeo, which serves as the RAM Great Lakes Circuit Finals Rodeo, the Palmyra, Mo., saddle bronc rider had gotten off to a slow start. His first-go effort of 78 points was solid, but not good enough to place among the top four scores and earn him any money.
After reviewing the second-go order, Watts found himself as the last man up.
“The second round was our semi-eliminators, and they posted the buck order beforehand, so I knew I was last and I kind of knew what I had to be. And I knew I had one of the more rider-friendly ones in that round,” Watts said. “I had actually been on him before and he kind of led me around, but I just knew if I started him good, he’d be good, and it all worked out pretty good.”
His 81.5-point effort on Championship Pro Rodeo’s Bonafide ended up being the highest scoring saddle bronc ride of the entire rodeo. The momentum didn’t stop there as Watts posted a third-round effort of 81 points on Dakota Rodeo’s Back Page, propelling him to an aggregate score of 240.5 points on three-head, good enough to hold off Byron Gilliland by seven points for the title.
Success in the Great Lakes Circuit is nothing new to Watts as he has previously won the season-long circuit championship and placed runner-up in 2020 and 2021 at the culminating rodeo competition.
Despite only being a rookie during the 2023 season, Watts has seen a lot of action competing on his permit. He’s quickly learned that his riding prowess is only half the battle to being successful in the sport, which makes weekends like this last one so important.
“Looking back now, I didn’t realize it then, but I had a lot of things go my way (when I won the circuit). I drew really good all year. And the past couple years, I kind of struggled to draw good,” Watts said. “This year, I just didn’t let myself get down if I didn’t draw good and I just tried to capitalize when I did have a good one. I won some really cool rodeos this year, but it was kind of feast or famine I would say. But it was a good year I would say.”
The win in Louisville, Ky., gives Watts a head start on the 2024 season, putting just shy of $8,300 on his ledger for the new year.
If he can draw a few good horses this winter, the up-and-coming saddle bronc rider could set himself up for a special season. It’s a challenge Watt is excited to face.
“This win was really important. Hopefully I can get into some of these bigger winter rodeos now that I have a little bit of money won,” he said.
Other winners at the $219,806 rodeo were all-around cowboy Fenton Nelsen ($7,376, tie-down roping and steer wrestling); bareback rider Tanner Aus (243.5 points on three head); steer wrestler Chance Carlson (15.0 seconds on three head); team ropers Cody Reed/Jace McDaniel, (11.6 seconds on two head); tie-down roper Dallen McIntire (26.5 seconds on three head, $3,688); barrel racer Lacinda Rose (46.03 seconds on three head); bull rider Jarett Evans (165.5 points on two head).
Courtesy of PRCA