Press Top 10 Sports Stories of 2009: Stroh makes history at NFRShaun Stroh can’t help but be stunned at what he accomplished in the final month and 10 days of the 2009 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association season.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Shaun Stroh can’t help but be stunned at what he accomplished in the final month and 10 days of the 2009 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association season.
The 37-year-old saddle bronc rider from Dickinson entered September needing a near-perfect month to punch his ticket to the National Finals Rodeo.
On Dec. 12, he joined an exclusive club by becoming the fourth North Dakota bronc rider and sixth cowboy from the state to win an NFR average title.
“It was a little overwhelming, just to have things turn out the way they did,” Stroh said. “I just feel completely blessed to have the year turn around like it did.”
Stroh joined Jim Tescher (1959 and 1963), Alvin Nelson (1961 and 1962) and Brad Gjermundson (1983 and 1988) as North Dakota bronc riders to win average titles at the NFR. Dickinson’s Wayne Herman won the bareback riding average in 1991 and Duane Howard of Minnewaukan won the bull riding in 1960.
“Them are guys you look up to the whole time — and still,” Stroh said. “You still talk to the great bronc riders and they’re still at the top of the list, I feel.”
But the story of how Stroh got his NFR title may be more exciting than those of his predecessors.
From January through August, Stroh had earned just $33,803 and was sitting outside the top 20 of the world bronc riding standings.
“Going all year, having things go as they were, in the back of your mind, you still know you’re going to make the NFR, you just don’t know how,” Stroh said with a laugh. “That was probably the biggest thing that stood out in my mind.”
Then in September, an outburst of wins and solid rides earned Stroh $48,356 and moved him to eighth in the world standings with $82,159.
“It was an awfully long year right up until the bitter end, and to have it turn around like that was just unbelievable,” Stroh said.
Still, the NFR always seemed to be Stroh’s Kryptonite. Injuries had slowed him in previous three visits to rodeo’s championship.
But this time he wasn’t only on a hot streak, he was — for the first time at age 37 — healthy for the finals.
“This is the first year I was actually healthy going in and came out good,”
From Dec. 3-12, Stroh didn’t win a round but had nine rides add up an aggregate score of 732.5 — an average of 81.4 per ride. He was bucked in the ninth round, putting his average title hopes in limbo until his closest competitor suffered the same fate in the 10th and final round.
The average title earned Stroh $43,954, put him at $81,688 for the NFR and fourth in the yearly standings with $163,847. It was, earnings-wise, the best season Stroh has had in his career.
Stroh turned 37 on Dec. 10, the same night he scored an 81 at the NFR, meaning the most successful season of his career came when most professional cowboys begin winding down.
“I guess I’m a late bloomer,” Stroh said with a laugh.
Shaun Stroh 2009 Earnings Chronology
January through August – $33,803
September earnings – $48,356
Regular season total – $82,159
NFR average – $43,954
NFR rounds – $37,734
NFR total – $81,688
Season total – $163,847
National Finals Rodeo modern-era Average champions from North Dakota
Saddle bronc riding
Jim Tescher, Medora, 1959, 1963
Alvin Nelson, Grassy Butte, 1961, 1962
Brad Gjermundson, Marshall, 1983, 1988
Shaun Stroh, Dickinson, 2009
Wayne Herman, Dickinson, 1991
Duane Howard, Minnewaukan, 1960