Road to NFR Cress works on getting better, staying focused
Las Vegas, Nev. – Cowboys and cowgirls across the world are traveling to Las Vegas, Nev. this week to compete at the 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) and will perform on the biggest rodeo stage in the world Dec. 7-16.
Brody Cress of Hillsdale is the newest member of Team Wyoming Professional Cowboys and has qualified for his first NFR in sixth place for saddle bronc riding.
Cress is a senior at Tarleton State University and will graduate in December with a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness. He plans to pursue a master’s degree in agriculture consumer science.
According to Cress, the 2017 college and professional rodeo seasons have been great.
“The end of last season was a little rough after I hurt my ankle in St. Paul, Ore. but I got through Cheyenne Frontier Days then stopped to get ready for college rodeo,” says Cress. “I think it helped a lot to take a step back and reset, so I could work on the basics and focus on getting ready for the next season.”
He credits taking a break for helping jump-start the 2017 college rodeo season and professional rodeo season, as well.
“I’ve been lucky enough to draw some really good horses and still do well on the horses that weren’t so good,” he states.
Cress says he was able to win a check almost every weekend this summer, which was helpful on his road to NFR.
“Keeping the money and momentum rolling was really beneficial when trying to make the finals,” he adds.
This season, Cress won the California Rodeo Salinas, Cheyenne Frontier Days and the Pendleton Round-Up in Oregon.
“Being able to go out and win rodeos like Cheyenne, Pendleton and Salinas and draw good horses really helped pave the way for the finals,” Cress notes.
He says the season has been amazing, and he is pleased with the great traveling partners and guys he rodeoed with all summer, which kept the season fun.
Cress states his biggest challenge this rodeo season was keeping up momentum and enthusiasm.
“This is the hardest I’ve ever rodeoed, so staying positive and driving up and down the road so much has been a challenge, along with keeping things fun,” he says.
The most difficult part is driving, according to Cress, “I think we drive more than 90 percent of the time, so finding ways to have fun, keep the momentum going and staying determined is important.”
Staying focused is also important to Cress, and he says finding focus was pretty easy this season.
“It doesn’t matter if I’m having a good season winning rodeos because there are so many guys in the PRCA who are winning, too. It’s important to keep that momentum moving and stay focused,” states Cress.
The opportunity to go to NFR is a dream come true for Cress, who has been around rodeo his entire life.
“I’ve been riding horses since before I could walk, and my parents always kept me involved,” he states. “I’ve dreamed of being at the finals. I love watching the NFR.”
Growing up, Cress says NFR was the one time of year he was allowed to stay up late.
He believes being at the NFR is a reward for all the hard work he put in, and being around so many high quality people and riding top-ranked bucking horses is also a reward.
“It’s rewarding for me and all the hard work I’ve put into it but also for the people who have sacrificed so much for me and those who have helped me get to this point,” Cress states.
The most exciting part for Cress is being able to ride in front of so many people. As a kid, he remembers visiting the Thomas and Mack Center and how loud and exciting the atmosphere was.
“Everyone was pumped up. Cowboys don’t get to compete in that type of atmosphere very often,” he adds. “I’m really excited to ride the best stock in the world with the other top 14 cowboys, and being around a great group of people makes this a really exciting time.”
Cress has been focusing on getting better, working out and trying to progress as a bronc rider in his preparation for NFR.
“I honestly have been trying to treat the finals like any other rodeo. Whether I’m getting on a horse in a practice pen, at a college rodeo or on the biggest rodeo stage, I try to completely focus on the process, and try to make the best bronc ride every time,” he says. “I can always improve and am just trying to get better.”
At his first NFR, Cress expects getting focused to be hard and thinks it will be nerve-racking.
“I think the most challenging part will be continuing to focus on the process and be able to zone-in while tuning everything else out. I’ll have fun and take it all in, but I’m at WNFR to take care of business,” says Cress.
As the newest member of Team Wyoming, Cress is excited and says it is awesome to be a part of the team.
“I’m from Wyoming, the Cowboy State, and I love it. I’ve always thought the coolest thing was seeing J.R. Vezain and Chet Johnson have Team Wyoming across the back of their shirts, so it’s always been my goal to be on the team and represent Wyoming,” Cress states.
As a Wyoming native, he believes he owes a lot of who he is to Wyoming and the opportunities and people in the state.
“To be able to represent not only Wyoming but also the residents and everyone who’s helped me get to this point is a blessing and a great opportunity,” says Cress.
Being raised around rodeo and ranching in Wyoming has helped him a lot, according to Cress.
“I’ve always been around rodeo, animals and amazing people who are involved with rodeo and ranching. It’s just amazing to have the opportunity to meet guys from Wyoming like Frank Thompson, world champion steer wrestler, who lives 15 minutes away from me,” he notes. “It’s awesome to be able to know those type of people.”
Heather Loraas is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org