NAMPA — Tanner Aus is in his tenth season in the PRCA circuit.

What he did Saturday, he says, is a first for him.

The Granite Falls, Minnesota cowboy snuck into the bareback bronc riding finals with an 81 earlier in the day, the 11th and final cowboy to get into the short go round. Hours later, he was sitting at the top of the standings.

Aus set a Ford Idaho Center record with a 91 on Lil Red Hawk, to share the Snake River Stampede title with Zach Hibler, with a two-head score of 172.

“Any time you can do something for the first time, it’s awesome,” Aus said about his climb. “Especially in rodeo, there’s so many variables in this sport. You can talk to anyone here, everyone’s so thankful that we get to do this. We get to spend time with our friends, spend time on the road and see the country. But to do something for the first time after ten years is awesome.”

It isn’t the first time that Aus has left the Snake River Stampede with the title. He also took the title in 2016.

Aus’s ride came after Austin Foss nearly tied the arena record with a 89. With Aus drawing Lil Red Hawk, he knew that he could also put up a special ride. With the way the horse bucks, he was hopeful he could put up a score to give him a shot at winning the whole thing.

It did just that.

“That’s a great horse,” Aus said. “I’ve been on it one other time and it didn’t go as well for me that time. So I was seeking a little vengeance, and it turned out good.”

The lead held up until Hibler, the last rider of the event, put up an 84.5, to go with his first round-best score of 87.5 to match Aus.

SMIDT CONTINUES WORLD TITLE DEFENSE: After Caleb Smidt won the tie-down roping title, it was announced as his third at the Snake River Stampede.

Not quite.

While Smidt did win the event in 2015 on his way to his first world title, he did not win it last year, prior to his second.

“Don’t tell (announcer) Boyd (Polhamus),” Smidt joked.

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The Bellville, Texas cowboy brought down his calf in 9.5 seconds, and used a 1.8 second-lead over the first two rounds to comfortably win the title.

“I had two good calves in the first two rounds,” said Smidt, who entered his ride needing to beat 11 seconds to beat out Haven Meged for the title. “I came back with a really good lead, so I just had to tie this down. I just had to get out of the barrier, get her caught and got her tied down. It turned out good.”

Smidt entered the week in first place in the world, with $100,130. With another $10,730.22 won in Nampa, he’s built on that lead.

With his spot in the National Finals Rodeo secured, Smidt said he’s going to take it easy between now and the December event in Las Vegas.

“I’ve been drawing some good calves here lately and making some good runs,” said Smidt, who said he will compete in roughly 10 rodeos before heading to Vegas. “I’m about to head home and regroup for a little while and hopefully show up in December.”

MCCRAW RETURNS TO NAMPA TO WIN BULL RIDING AFTER FALL: On Tuesday, the first night of the Snake River Stampede, Foster McCraw was stepped on by his bull after falling off.

The bull stepped on the Navasota, Texas native’s wrist and ankle, but the injury wasn’t enough to slow him down.

McCraw came back in Saturday’s final and scored a 89.5 to win at his first trip to the Snake River Stampede.

“This is a huge blessing and an honor,” said McCraw. “I’ve been working at it a while, and it’s a great title to win.”

McCraw shared the first-round lead with Clayton Sellars at 88.5, but fell under the bull after the eight-second horn.

But with a rodeo in Salinas, California on Wednesday, he shook off the injury.

“There was just a small bruise and some scrapes,” he said.

There was no lingering issues Saturday, as he rode Last Cigarette to the title.

OTHER WINNERS: A year after sharing the steer wrestling title, Hunter Cure won it outright. Cure had the best time of the short go round, with 3.8 seconds to get a three-head score of 12 seconds. … Nelson Wyatt and Levi Lord won the team roping with a time of 15.1 on three head. Wyatt and Lord got their calf down in 5.2 seconds on Saturday. … First-round leader Colt Gordon put up a 87 on Cinch’s Rickhy Bobby to win the saddle bronc title. … Terri Wood Gates won both rounds to take the barrel racing title. Gates had a time of 15.98 seconds on Saturday. … Jake Hannum was the all-around winner. He won $3,646.60 in tie-down roping and team roping.

John Wustrow is the assistant sports editor of the Idaho Press. He is a Michigan native and a graduate of Indiana University.

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