Zeke Thurston, a Big Valley, Alberta native came into the National Finals Rodeo trailing Ryder Wright by just under $45,000 in the Saddle Bronc world standings. After an 88 point run and a first-place finish in round one, that gap has closed to $21,266. 

Thurston knows how important getting the first win of the rodeo out of the way is and what it means for the next nine rounds.

 "Oh, it’s great, It gives you a confidence boost. You’ve got the hardest one out of the way, and you just try to keep the ball rolling and just have fun.”

The competition will undoubtedly get tougher the rest of the way as Ryder Wright looks to rebound from a no-score in round one. 

J.J. Elshere and Bradley Harter finished tied for second with a run of 86.5 which netted them over $18,000. The tie for second jumped Elshere from 15th to 10th place in the world standings. 

Saddle Bronc World Standings (NFR money in parentheses)

1. Ryder Wright - $234,488 ($10,000)

2. Zeke Thurston - $213,222 ($36,230)

3. Spencer Wright - $137,438 ($17,333)

4. Chase Brooks - $133,616 ($17,333)

5. Jacobs Crawley - $131,011 ($10,000)