BILLINGS — The opportunity was too good to pass up.
Finding a new home, the Northern Rodeo Association is moving its Finals to the Majestic Valley Arena in Kalispell.
The 2019 NRA Finals, which determines the organization’s year-end champions, will be Oct. 24-26.
The NRA Finals had spent the previous eight years at the Butte Civic Center and prior to Butte, had a long run in Billings.
“This was an opportunity to offer our competitors a chance to compete in a premier venue,” said NRA executive secretary Theresa Sorlie. “We are thrilled to bring our event to Kalispell.”
The NRA Finals features the top 10 in each event from the regular season standings. Some of the previous NRA competitors include seven-time world champion Dan Mortensen (six saddle bronc, one all-around), three-time team roping world champion Clay Tryan and Jess Lockwood, the 2017 Professional Bull Riders world champion.
The Majestic Valley Arena was built in 2002 and holds 2,500 for rodeo. It hosted a PRCA Montana Circuit rodeo in March.
“The bucking chutes face the bleachers,” Sorlie said. “With that set up, it will make the rodeo action up close and personal.”
Another advantage Sorlie said was that all the livestock, for the rodeo and horses owned by the competitors, can be held in stalls on the arena grounds.
After the 2018 NRA Finals, the NRA began searching for a new facility to call home, according to Sorlie.
“We looked at some new buildings in the state of Montana but they didn’t have any seating,” she said. “We’re excited to get the premier facility in the state of Montana.”
The NRA season officially begins June 7 with rodeos in Conrad, Poplar and Culbertson.
Big Sky Region
After winning every rodeo during the fall season, Northwest College held off a spring challenge by Montana State to win the Big Sky Region men’s team title.
The Trappers won by a scant 89 points in the final standings.
The top two teams and top three individuals qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming, June 9-15.
The Bobcats dominated the women’s side, doubling up on points over runner-up Montana Western. The MSU women won eight of 10 Big Sky Region rodeos. The Bobcats swept the top four places in the goat tying standings and the top three in barrel racing and all-around standings.
The MSU men were also 1-2-3 in the steer wrestling standings.
This year’s top Big Sky Region competitors were both freshmen.
Caleb McMillan of NWC won the regular-season men’s all-around title and showing his skills at both ends of the arena, also won the bull riding and tie-down roping regular season championships. McMillan, of Soap Lake, Washington, was also third in the saddle bronc standings and fourth among team roping headers.
Samantha Kerns, of Haines, Oregon, won the women’s all-around title and breakaway roping titles for MSU. She was also second in goat tying and fourth in barrel racing.
Other regular-season champions are: Calvin Shaffe, NWC, saddle bronc; Shawn Perkins, MSU, bareback; Seth Indergard, MSU, steer wrestling; Jack Graham, MSU, team roping header; Matthew Williams, team MSU, team roping heeler; Keira Simonson, Montana, barrel racing; Celie Salmond, MSU, goat tying.