Tanner Brunner won the steer wrestling competition at the annual Kansas State University Rodeo in Manhat?tan.
Actually, it?s a continuation of successes this winter for the Ramona ranch native who?s a K-State junior studying animal science.
Serving as captain of the KSU team, Brunner had collected major checks steer wrestling at Profes?sional Rodeo Cowboys Asso?ciation rodeos just days earlier.
Brunner, at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, is ranked among the top steer wrestlers in both the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association and the PRCA.
?This is my second year on the K-State team, and I?m a rookie, my first year in professional rodeo,? Brunner said. ?I?ve been practicing hard, and it?s paid off, but my education comes first.?
Doug Muller, rodeo team coach, said 42 college cowboys from the NIRA Central Plains region of Oklahoma and Kansas entered in steer wrestling at the K-State rodeo.
Brunner threw his steer in 6.9 seconds in the long-go-round, then was first in the short-go-round finals with 5 seconds flat, to win the average in 11.9 seconds and receive the $394 championship check, and 160 NIRA steer wrestling points.
?There were four Central Plains Region rodeos last fall where Tanner won some points,? Muller said. ?The K-State rodeo was the first one this spring, and Tanner is leading the region in steer wrestling with 335 points.?
The top three cowboys in each event qualify to compete in the 2014 College National Finals Rodeo set for June 12-15, in Casper, Wyo.
During January, Brunner won the steer wrestling at a PRCA rodeo in Lincoln, Neb., dropping his bovine in 5.3 seconds, to collect $1,200 prize money, and rank him in the early year standings among the best professional rodeo cowboys in the world.
In PRCA steer wrestling at the South?western Live?stock Exposition Rodeo in Fort Worth, Texas, during late January, Brunner was second in the second-go-round, flattening his steer in 3.8 seconds.
While Brunner wasn?t anxious to admit it, the $4,600 paycheck moved him into the top 20 PRCA steer wrestlers at that time.
?It is the biggest win in my career to date, but the standings change about every day,? he said.
To compete successfully in steer wrestling at these levels requires ability, practice and good horses.
?I?ve worked with lots of cowboys in my career, and Tanner has the talent to be a champion wherever he competes,? Muller said.
?I practice every day when the weather allows,? Brunner said.
About getting started in the sport, Brunner said: ?My parents helped me as much as they could. My dad rode bulls and broncs and steer wrestled, and was a lot of help in those events, but limited in roping. My parents sent me to calf roping and team roping schools as well as two of Chancy Larson?s bulldogging schools.
?I started throwing steers on the ground in junior high with Dad teaching me the basics, and I ended up winning the chute dogging my last year in the junior high division,? said Brunner, who competed in bull dogging, calf roping and team roping during school, culminated by winning the high school finals his senior year.
At the K-State competition, Brunner rode his own horse, called Starburst, that he?s ridden since collecting high school rodeo championships.
Brunner uses a different horse, called Bert, in the roping events.
?I finished and seasoned Bert in calf roping after we got him back from a trainer, and I trained him as a heel horse for team roping,? Brunner said. ?I also used Bert to haze on steer wrestling for a while.?
While Brunner?s steer wrestling record is impressive, a cowboy can?t win at every rodeo.
?I haven?t traveled too far from home really, but there have been a couple of rodeos where I didn?t get in the money this winter,? Brunner said.
Rodeo runs in Brunner?s veins as his parents had successful rodeo careers. Dad Tracy, mom Yvonne and sister Cat all competed on the K-State Rodeo Team, as did an aunt and an uncle.
Tanner is looking to eventually being involved in extensive Brunner family ranching operations in Marion County, but that may be decades away.
?My first goal is to win the steer wrestling in the Central Plains Region, go to the National Finals College Rodeo, and do well there,? Brunner said.
Next in line for the cowboy?s plans: ?I will go to PRCA rodeos here in the Midwest until school?s out in the spring, and see how I?m doing. I?d like to hit the pro rodeo circuit hard this summer, see how I?m ranking in the rookie steer wrestling standings, and go from there.
?My intentions now are to rodeo professionally fulltime after I graduate, and of course compete at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, and become a world champion.?