Chasing Dreams: Brooks Finds Success at The American Rodeo
The American Rodeo (previously RFD-TV’s The AMERICAN) underwent a few changes from last year, including a refined name and new logo, featuring a golden shooting star. All participants performed accordingly as the stars of rodeo were shining in AT&T Stadium on March 6, with the top performers earning part of a purse equaling over three million dollars.
Chase Brooks of Deer Lodge, Montana, scored an impressive 88 points in Sunday’s eight-man long round aboard Yesterday’s Delivery. “I had just got on that horse at Fort Worth. I did well there and ended up second. I was excited to have him. The last two times he’d been bucked at The American, he was unridden. He’s a handful, but he’s flashy and gives you a chance if you can keep up,” he says.
He then spurred Wild Cherry for 90 points in the four-man championship round, good for a runner-up finish in the saddle bronc riding and a chunk of the prize money, totaling $25,000. As a qualifier–being in the Top 10 of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association standings last year–he was invited to the Semi-Final rounds earlier in the week at Cowtown Coliseum in Fort Worth. Yet, even the qualifiers had to battle through the progressive rounds in order to get to the final two performances, something which eluded Brooks until this year. “I made it to the 10-man round my first year, and since then I haven’t had any luck. This was the first year I’ve made it all the way through,” he says.
The four-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier says that The American Rodeo is like none other. “It’s one of the coolest places in the world. It’s huge and it’s always packed. The energy in there is crazy. When you’re riding for that kind of money at that prestigious of a rodeo, everybody is excited. It’s a whole different kind of rodeo,” Brooks says. The 2022 American Champion bronc rider was Dawson Hay, who edged Brooks by just one-half a point at 90.5.
Brooks’ eight-second payday will not only bolster his PRCA standings early in the 2022 season, it will also be in aid of some big life changes. Brooks and his girlfriend, Cara Spirazza, are expecting their first child in early June. Spirazza graduates from veterinary school in April, and the couple want to buy their first house in Weatherford, Texas in the meantime. Spirazza will be interning at Equine Sports Medicine & Surgery there starting in December. His success at the American Rodeo comes as a relief. “I’m going to have a lot less to worry about. [It] means a lot for rodeo but also for buying a house […] It’s worked out pretty perfect. God’s plan–it’s amazing,” Brooks says.
While Brooks plans to continue his bronc riding career, he recognizes that their new baby will keep them busier than ever before. He says, “I’ll still rodeo about the same–it’ll just be more fun. I’ll be able to have [Cara] and our kid with us. I rodeo with a lot of guys that bring their kids with them, and I think that’s probably one of the coolest ways a kid could grow up.”
As for Brooks, he was raised in Deer Lodge, looking up to talented bronc riders in the area. “It was stacked there for a long time,” he says. Josh Reynolds, Jake Costello, Tyrell Smith, Shane Moran, and Jesse Kruse were a few of the veterans Brooks was competing against as a rookie. According to him, several of them did not have “big names”, but competed as well as anyone else at the time. “Riding against all of those toughs from up there dang sure pushed a young kid. You’re going to have to ride pretty good to top those guys,” he said.
Brooks and his traveling partners, Kolby Wanchuk, Sage Newman, and Tanner Butner, plan to finish out the early spring going to a handful of larger rodeos. “We take the winter pretty slow, this year especially, now that we know we’ll have a full rodeo season. The last couple years we kind of hit everything we could, not knowing what was going to be going,” Brooks says. Starting in June, their rodeo season will be in full swing.
Qualifiers to the American Rodeo are eligible to win $100,000 if they top their event. Contenders, however, are eligible to win the million dollars, unprecedented until the first American Rodeo in 2014. At last year’s American Rodeo, none of the contenders were successful in taking first place in their events, which meant that the one million dollars rolled over to this year. The building had an air of excitement surrounding this “double or nothing” possibility, and fans could not wait to see who would take home the life-changing paycheck.
The Bareback Riding championship round was particularly exciting. The champion, Tilden Hooper scored 91 points, followed closely by Kaycee Feild with 90.5, Jesse Pope with 90, and Tanner Aus of Granite Falls, Minnesota scoring 89.5. “That was probably the best bareback riding short round I’ve ever seen,” said Brooks. “I wouldn’t have wanted to be a judge. Depending on what they were looking at, it could have gone any direction with who was going to win it. That was a rank short round.”
In the end, Kaique Pacheco of Itatiba, São Paulo, Brazil scored 89 points on his final bull to top his event and claim an astounding $2.1 million for himself, making his goal of winning this rodeo come true and achieving an American dream in more than one sense.
See below for complete 2022 American Rodeo competitor results:
2022 American Rodeo Champion and Reserve Champions by Event
Bareback Riding: 1. Tilden Hooper 2. Kaycee Feild
Barrel Racing: 1. Shelley Morgan 2. Jordon Briggs
Breakaway Roping: 1. Jackie Crawford 2. Kelsie Domer
Bull Riding: 1. Kaique Pacheco 2. Sage Kimzey
Saddle Bronc Riding: 1. Dawson Hay 2. Chase Brooks
Steer Wrestling: 1. Jesse Brown 2. Trell Etbauer
Team Roping: 1. Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins 2. Clay Smith and Jade Corkill
Tie-Down Roping: 1. Caleb Smidt 2. Tuf Cooper
TSLN Area Athletes Who Qualified to The American Finals at AT&T Stadium:
Bareback Riding: Garrett Shadbolt; Merriman, Nebraska – 8th
Barrel Racing: Tasha Welsh; Gillette, Wyoming – 5th
Molly Otto; Grand Forks, North Dakota – 9th
Amanda Welsh; Gillette, Wyoming – 10th
Breakaway Roping: Joey Williams; Volberg, Montana – 8th
Bull Riding: Parker Breding; Edgar, Montana – 10th
Saddle Bronc Riding: Chase Brooks; Deer Lodge, Montana – 2nd
Steer Wrestling: Rhett Witt; Valentine, Nebraska – 7th
Bridger Anderson; Carrington, North Dakota – 8th
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