LAS VEGAS — This is Karl Stressman’s 10th National Finals Rodeo.
It is also his last.
The PRCA commissioner announced his retirement from the post earlier this summer and the professional rodeo organization is in the process of searching for his replacement.
Prior to taking the lead of the PRCA, Stressman had spent 12 years as the Director of Event Marketing for Wrangler Jeans. One of his jobs was promoting rodeo through the “Tough Enough to Wear Pink,” initiative.
During his tenure with the PRCA, Stressman helped negotiate the 10-year, $175 million deal with Las Vegas Events to keep the NFR in Las Vegas through 2024. He also brokered the contract to keep the NFR on the CBS Sports Network through 2019.
Stressman and the PRCA were also able to fight off a challenge from the Elite Rodeo Association. Many of the same cowboys who were in the ERA in 2016 — including Trevor Brazile, Clay Tryan and Tuf Cooper — are competing at the NFR this year.
“It has been an amazing run, but certainly not without a few battle scars,” Stressman said in a PRCA release. “It has been my privilege to have had the opportunity to serve the members, our committees, our great sponsors and the best fans in the sporting world.”
An amateur team roper, Stressman’s last day with the PRCA is Dec. 31. He and his wife plan to return to Arizona and spend more time with their grandchildren.
The PRCA board of directors will hire Stressman’s successor. An announcement for the replacement is expected to come in early 2018.
The annual PRCA Permit Challenge features some of the rising new talent in professional rodeo.
But Bear Pascoe is probably the only one competing at the event this year who has a Super Bowl ring.
Pascoe, a former tight end for the New York Giants, won the steer wrestling competition at the Permit Challenge.
The 31-year-old from Porterville, California, comes from a cattle ranch and rodeo background. He also team ropes with his brother Ryan and his father-in-law is ProRodeo Hall of Fame member and 10-time NFR qualifier John W. Jones.
Pascoe played seven seasons in the NFL (2009-15). He caught a touchdown pass in the 2011 NFC title game against the San Francisco 49ers and four passes in the Giants' 21-17 win over the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
The Permit Challenge also showcased some Montana talent and another generation of cowboys.
Jess Davison of Miles City won the second round of bull riding and was fourth in the average. Victor’s Tristan Hansen was third in the first round of bareback riding. Davison completed his senior season with the University of Wyoming rodeo program this past spring.
Another familiar name riding was Dawson Hay, the middle son of 20-time NFR qualifier Rod Hay of Canada, along with Bo Pickett, nephew of former world all-around champion Dee Pickett. The younger Hay, like his father, competed in saddle bronc riding; the younger Pickett is a tie-down roper. Rod Hay competed at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, along with seven-time world champion Dan Mortensen of Billings.