The early half of the 2021 season wasn’t going well for steer wrestler Tristan Martin.
As winter gradually became spring, the 25-year-old from Sulphur, La., realized he needed a change. If he wanted to get things rolling and possibly have a shot at making the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo he needed to shake things up.
Enter Hunter Cure and Cade Staton. Martin asked if he could jump in their rig and travel with them.
Cure is a five-time NFR qualifier and a two-time PRCA World Champion. Staton has been competing in ProRodeo since 2012. He also has some good horses.
Since jumping in with those two, Martin’s season has taken off. Entering the Pendleton Round-Up he was the bubble, sitting 15th in the PRCA | RAM World Standings, trying to hold off Cody Devers by less than $200.
Martin got to work early in Pendleton. He split the win in the first round with a time of 4.5 seconds to earn $3,355. His time of 6.8 in the second round has him in the lead in the average with 11.3 seconds on two head heading into Saturday’s finals.
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It’s continued a successful run for Martin over the last few months
“This fourth quarter has been great for me,” he said. “Everything’s just clicking and rolling right along. … I started riding Cade Staton’s horse and started winning. And Hunter is a great person to be around. We have a lot of fun and it’s straight business. … He (Hunter) is a great mentor and I’m thankful to be around him.”
While his first run felt great, his second one was a bit shaky. Nothing to sneeze at on the infield grass in the Pendleton arena.
“My first run was real good, obviously placing in the first round,” Martin said. “My second round, a bunch of stuff happened – I got a bad start and it went bad real quickly. But it came together at the end. It all worked out.”
While Martin is battling to hold onto a berth for the Wrangler NFR (it would be his first), his traveling mate Cure is also hoping to rally late and grab a spot. Cure is 20th in the standings, about $5,000 behind Martin.
After Pendleton, Martin is planning on hitting Albuquerque, N.M., Sunday, and Amarillio, Texas, and the ProRodeo Tour Finale next week.
“It’s such an adrenaline rush, right now,” Martin said about being in the NFR hunt. “You’re nervous at the same time, but in the end you can’t let the nerves get to you. You have to keep nodding your head and you hope for the best.”
As the average leader, Martin will be out last in Saturday’s finals. He’ll be checking the standings overnight and might spend time thinking about what he has to do and running numbers, but when he backs into the box aboard Staton’s horse FedEx, all those thoughts go out the window.
“The pressure is always in the back of your mind,” he said. “But as professionals, we just deal with pressure, that’s how we work. If you win, you make money. If you don’t win, you don’t make any money. So the pressure, I don’t want to say it’s not there, but it is. But you just keep going.”
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