Chase Tryan

Chase Tryan, pictured in an earlier performance at the NFR, is competing in Las Vegas for the first time since 2012.

LAS VEGAS — Chase Tryan admits he is a changed man.

He’s a more aggressive roper in the arena and more confident in himself outside the fences.

“I’ve made so many changes in my life I could write a book,” said the 30-year-old team roper from Helena with a smile.

Those changes helped Tryan qualify for his second National Finals Rodeo. He last qualified in 2012 when he finished second in the average and fourth in the final world team roping heeling standings.

“It’s been a lot of years since I’ve been here. I’m not going to sugarcoat it,” Tryan said.

He’s also come close other years, finishing 23rd in the world standings in 2017 and 19th in 2011 and 2013.

A philosophical switch in the team roping world forced Tryan to come along. With many large rodeos going to a sudden-death format for the semifinals and finals, the event has become more high risk, high reward.

Tryan was forced to change his approach.

“I never used to be an aggressive roper,” he said. “I’ve changed a lot … team roping has changed a lot. I had to change. I’ve never been a risk taker. Now you have to throw faster. You have to take more chances.”

That’s been evident at the Thomas and Mack Center. He and partner Bubba Buckaloo, of Kingston, Oklahoma, tied for second and third in first two rounds and followed it with no times in rounds three, four and five.

They were second in the sixth round on Tuesday night with a 4.4-second run, their best of the NFR.

“Before, I sat back and watched what everybody else did,” said Tryan, who surpassed $500,000 in career earnings this year. “And if it didn’t go my way, I would be upset and it would bother me for a week.”

Through six rounds, Tryan and Buckaloo have earned almost $60,000.

But Tryan’s biggest personal change came before he grabbed a rope.

“I’ve always been self-conscience, worried about what people thought about me,” he admitted. “I would worry about things I couldn’t control.

“About two years ago, I decided I had to change things. I have more self-confidence now, the changes gave me a little thicker skin."

“And it’s took a lot of stress out of my life,” Tryan finished with a laugh.

He roped with three different partners in 2018. He and Dustin Bird of Cut Bank won the Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit Finals title in Great Falls. Then Tryan joined forces with Brenten Hall, of Stephenville, Texas, for the regular season.

“He’s really got good focus,” said Tryan of Hall. “He’s turned a lot of cows for me.”

The two won team roping titles at Big Fork, Lewiston, Idaho, and Innisfail, Alberta, Canada. “The month of July was really good,” said Tryan.

The pair also qualified for the Canadian Finals Rodeo in November where they placed in four rounds — winning the sixth — to earn $26,190 and finish second in the final CPRA standings.

“It helped a lot,” said Tryan of the CFR in preparation for the NFR. “It helped being in a finals setting. It helped the nerves. Any time you compete is good for you.”

However, Hall finished 26th in the final team roping heading standings, pushing Tryan and Buckaloo together. The two practiced together daily at Ryan Motes’ place in Weatherford, Texas, prior to coming to Las Vegas.

“I’m having a blast,” Tryan said of his return to the NFR. “It’s a dream come true.”

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