Veteran steer wrestler Dakota Eldridge shines in winning Bracket 2 at Cinch Playoffs

PUYALLUP, Wash. – This isn’t steer wrestler Dakota Eldridge’s first rodeo.
The Elko, Nev., cowboy is taking aim at his 10th Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualification in 2023.
Eldridge helped his cause by winning the average with a 9.2-second time on two head in Bracket 2 of the Cinch Playoffs Saturday night.
Eldridge clocked a 5.2-second run Saturday afternoon and then secured the average title in his bracket by stopping the clock in 4.0 seconds on Saturday night at the Washington State Fair Pro Rodeo.
Eldridge entered Puyallup seventh in the PRCA | RAM World Standings with $100,647. He’s been to the Wrangler NFR nine times – (2013-17, 2019-22). He won the NFR average in 2015 and 2017.
The top four finishers in Bracket 1 and Bracket 2 in the average in each event advanced to the semifinals at 1 p.m. (PT) Sunday, Sept. 10. The Bracket 1 contestants competed on Sept. 7-8. Bracket 2 competitors – 12 in each event – competed Saturday afternoon and night.

Kent Soule | PRCA photo

The top four semifinal finishers will compete in a sudden-death finals to conclude the rodeo Sunday.
“(Sunday afternoon), I’m just going to keep my foot on the pedal because Sioux Falls (S.D.), that money is so intriguing. I’m kind of on the bubble as far as being in the top 8. I think I’m 10th in the (Playoff Series) standings, so it would be nice to be in the top four here and just clinch a spot to (Sioux Falls). I tweaked my AC joint in my right shoulder the other day in Filer (Idaho), so I went home and rehabbed it all week. My plan was to tough it out here (in Puyallup) and go home and take a couple of weeks off before Sioux Falls hopefully.”
Not only can contestants take aim at Puyallup’s cash, but doing well in Puyallup also can send contestants to an even larger payday in Sioux Falls.
The contestants in Sioux Falls will include the top four finishers from each event at the Cinch Playoffs in Puyallup, and the top eight out of the standings of the Playoff Series presented by Pendleton Whisky.
“In the bulldogging there is not much backing off,” Eldridge said. “If you miss the barrier stuff can go south. Steers should be pretty even (Sunday) and (hopefully) I can draw a good steer and finish it off here.
“I love the camaraderie between the steer wrestlers, but at the end of the day you go out and throw a good one like that (4.0 seconds) and make a good run, that’s what we do it for.” 
Last September, the PRCA, the State of South Dakota, Experience Sioux Falls and Cinch announced the Cinch Playoffs will have athletes competing for the Governor’s Cup and vying for the $1.1 million purse, Sept. 28-30, 2023, at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls. It will be the richest rodeo in South Dakota history.
“You have to keep your head down and keep grinding,” Eldridge said. “I’m really fortunate to ride Curtis Cassidy’s horse (Tyson) this year. He’s so honest. He gives 100 percent every time. Scoring is so simple on him and when you can hit the barrier, you just have to go do your job. It has been really fun this summer between Tyson, and I have another horse Frozen that we have been riding at the smaller rodeos, and our horses have stayed really fresh.”
Tyson is the reigning three-time PRCA | AQHA Horse of the Year and the four-time Canadian Professional Rodeo Association Horse of the Year in 2019-2022.