Tyler Willis earned his first berth in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo last year, and the Wyoming cowboy pocketed $75,433 after taking on 10 credentialed bulls at the Las Vegas championships.
He also finished sixth in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's 2011 bull riding title race with $146,558.
After all that, the 21-year-old cowboy says he's determined to return to the nationals. And while competing at the Fort Worth Stock Show's Bulls' Night Out performance on Wednesday night, Willis got a start on a trip to the 2012 NFR by earning $6,482.
Willis clinched the Stock Show's 2012 Bulls' Night Out title after turning in a two-ride score of 169.5, a half point ahead of 2011 NFR average winner L.J. Jenkins, who competed on Tuesday.
Willis snared the title after turning in a first-round score of 85 and then following up with an 84.5 in the 10-man final round during a sold-out performance before more than 5,700 spectators at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.
"You always go for the win and it just worked out tonight," Willis said. "I don't feel like I did anything out of the ordinary. I was just trying to stay on."
Willis clinched the title after finishing as the only Wednesday night competitor who stayed on for the eight-second count during the finals. When the title was at stake in the short go, Willis turned in the 84.5 atop a bull named Big Bangs, owned by the Four L and Diamond S Rodeo Co., which is based in Weatherford and Summerville, Ga.
PRCA rodeo begins
According to the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo ticket office schedule, the traditional PRCA show begins its 17-day run tonight.
But in reality, it began Wednesday with a tie-down roping slack performance, a show that featured an overflow of competitors who are not scheduled to compete in the main shows.
Cory Solomon, a Prairie View cowboy who qualified for the National Finals Rodeo last year, took the lead in the first round with a time of 8.7 seconds. Adam Gray of Seymour, a former NFR qualifier, is ranked second with an 8.9.
Solomon said he thrived on drawing a good calf.
"The calf started a little tricky and she was a little bit big, but she tied really good," Solomon said. "You can't ask for much more. You just have to go do your job. I don't think I had the best calf overall, but I had a really good one."
Solomon, 21, also is a business student at Hill College. He has competed in the College National Finals Rodeo three times.
But last year, he got on a roll on the PRCA circuit and qualified for his first National Finals. During the Las Vegas championships, Solomon earned $85,240 and tied for second in the average after competing in 10 performances. He also came in third in the world title race with $158,963.
The Stock Show's PRCA Rodeo will feature an array of high-profile competitors tonight in the first of 30 performances.
Trevor Brazile of Decatur, who has nine world all-around titles, and his partner, Patrick Smith, a former world champion, are scheduled to compete in team roping.