Family, friends and members of the local rodeo community took time last week to celebrate the accomplishments of two-time World Champion team roper Clay Tryan.
“Team roping is a big deal in this market,” said Yellowstone River Roundup Cowboy Club member Todd Buchanan. “When a Billings guy elevates it to the next level – we need to recognize that.”
Tryan, who was raised in Montana and now lives in Texas, has been a part of the local roping community ever since he was a young child. He won his first Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association World Championship in Las Vegas in 2005. He won his second in December.
Local sportscasters Scott Breen of Q2 and Chris Byers of KULR8 were on hand during the event to show video footage of Tryan’s two world championships and share their recollections of a young man they have been following for many years.
“I actually did my very first interview with him when he was 10,” Breen said. “That wasn’t the beginning of greatness – he was already in the middle of it.”
“He knows how important rodeo is to the folks of Montana,” Byers added. “When you see his name at the National Finals Rodeo, he’s not listed as being from Texas - he lists his hometown as Billings, Mont. You all should be very proud of that.”
When Tryan stood up to speak in front of the audience of nearly 30 people - including county commissioners Bill Kennedy and John Ostlund – he took time to thank everyone who has supported him throughout his career.
“The support means a lot when you come from an industry where people think you have to come from Arizona or Texas to be great,” he said. “My family and friends never let me believe that … . It’s nice to see all you guys that I roped with or against while growing up. Those early years are what made me great. Those days just starting out as a 13- or 14-year-old kid … . Without all that and my family’s support, it wouldn’t be possible to do what I do now. I’d like to thank everybody that was there along the way.”
The event was sponsored by the Yellowstone River Roundup Cowboy Club, which exists to support the Yellowstone River Roundup Rodeo, held during MontanaFair in the Grandstands at MetraPark. Members and their contributions to the club have helped the YRRR grow into one of the region’s most attended rodeos.
Thanks to the contributions of members, the Cowboy Club has been able to increase the purse for each event at the rodeo from $1,500 to $6,500 this year in the hopes that it will attract more competitors.
This expanded purse will also affect the team roping event. Previously, the two winners in the team roping category had to split a $6,500 purse. Now both the header and heeler will each receive that amount.
“We doubled the team roping purse this year, and I said to Clay, ‘Now you don’t have any excuses for why you can’t come to Billings,’” said Bob Dunker, chairman of the Cowboy Club.
With two world championships under his belt, Tryan is hoping that he can win a few more times before he retires.
“I don’t know how many I have to win in order to get a statue in front of the Metra, but that’s my goal,” he said with a smile. “I still have a lot of energy and I’m still trying. I’m still hoping I can win a few more.”