Jesse Kruse wins his hometown rodeo at Montana Circuit finals
GREAT FALLS, Mont. – Ten years after winning the ProRodeo world title, saddle bronc rider Jesse Kruse kicked off his pursuit of a second gold buckle by winning the RAM Montana Circuit Finals Rodeo in his hometown of Great Falls.
“The plan this year is if a guy stays healthy and the funds are there, to make it back to the Finals,” Kruse said. “It would be cool to win another title 10 years later.”
Kruse is no stranger to the winner’s circle at the RAM MCFR, having won it and the circuit title on multiple occasions. The 32-year-old cowboy qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo three times (2009-11) but ran into some tough luck in more recent years.
His luck changed Sunday, as he won the rodeo with 247.5 points on three head and the year-end circuit title with $15,571.
“It’s been a tough last couple, three years,” Kruse said. “A guy has been hurt and not doing very good, but it’s a good feeling that he can keep going down the road.”
It wasn’t all luck that got Kruse to the pay window. The Montana native did some legwork before getting in the chutes at Great Falls.
“I’ve got to give a lot of thanks to Kaehl Berg and his crew,” Kruse said. “Before the circuit finals, they invited me down and I got on some practice horses, and they helped me get stuff tuned in. A lot of the thanks goes to them, and it turned out pretty good, especially riding against Chase Brooks and all those guys. They ride tough. It stayed tight through the last day.”
Kruse didn’t know much about his first or third broncs at Great Falls, but he knew his second draw quite well, having scored 86 points on Kesler Championship Rodeo’s Willow Brook at the Northwest Montana Fair and Rodeo in Kalispell in August.
Willow Brook and Kruse clicked again, winning the second round at Great Falls with an 83.5-point ride.
“I drew good this weekend and I could have ridden better, but it all worked out,” Kruse said. “It means a lot. With our circuit finals being in my hometown, there’s good stock and a good crowd with my family there, it all makes it a good weekend.”
Kruse entered the RAM MCFR at the top of the Montana Circuit standings with $15,571. With the year-end circuit title in hand, he’s heading to the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo at Kissimmee, Fla., in March.
“It always helps to come in confident and start off on a good note,” Kruse said.
Kruse ranked 48th in the 2018 PRCA | RAM World Standings with $21,326. Now, he’s kicking off the 2019 season with a win worth nearly half his earnings from the previous season, picking up $9,180 at the RAM MCFR.
“Shoot, it makes it nice,” Kruse said. “It gives a guy enough to get started for the winter, and hopefully it goes on down through Denver.”
After competing against each other, Kruse and Brooks will be in the same rodeo rig alongside reigning World Champion Bull Rider Sage Kimzey.
“They’re riding good and it’s going good for me, so hopefully it’ll be a good year,” Kruse said.
Other winners of the $206,363 rodeo were all-around cowboy Hank Hollenbeck ($9,181, tie-down roping and steer wrestling); bareback rider Tristan Hansen (242.5 points on three head); steer wrestler Bridger Chambers (15.1 seconds on three head); team ropers Shane Schwenke/Kory Mytty (19.9 seconds on three head); tie-down roper Bradley Chance Hays (30.2 seconds on three head); barrel racer Tara Stimpson (40.34 seconds on three runs); and bull rider Parker Breding (240.5 points on three head).