Travis Tryan, 32, is a veteran of 11 Wrangler National Finals Rodeos, qualifying for every Super Bowl of Rodeo from 2001-2012, except 2011 when he also finished 16th in the world. He missed this year’s NFR cut by a mere $191.
Kendra Santos:This is the second time in three years you’ve missed the Finals at the wire. Talk to me.
Travis Tryan: I have to rope better. That’s it. Period. There’s nothing else to say, really.
Ks: You roped with Jake Long this year. What do you consider your team’s 2013 highlight?
TT: We won Canby (Ore.). It took until August before we won our first rodeo. There weren’t a whole lot of highlights, in my book.
Ks: What was the very worst moment of this year for you?
TT: When I lost my rope at Cheyenne (Wyo.) on the second one. We’d won the first round, and I lost my rope to be high call. That was a disappointing lowlight. I can’t stand to lose my rope. I hate it.
Ks: Tell me about the last day of the regular season. Where were you while you waited out the final verdict, and what was your anxiety level?
TT: I was driving to my dad’s Wrangler Team Roping Championships up in Billings. I knew it was going to go one way or another. I was just tired of waiting. It’d been a long year. I didn’t run a steer that day. We ran our last one the night before in Stephenville (Texas). On the actual last day of the regular season, Colby Lovell (and Martin Lucero) made a great run at Stephenville and split the rodeo (with Luke Brown and Travis Graves). It was out of my control by then, so I was ready for it to be done either way. Worrying wasn’t going to change anything.
Ks: When you look back on this year does any one run stick out as the one that made the most obvious difference, where one tiny break would have tipped the scales the other way?
TT: No. I roped poorly all year. I just didn’t rope good enough. It came down to one run, but there are so many times you can win an extra $200 or $2,000 throughout the course of the year, and those checks mean the same in January or March as in September. You just don’t notice it until right there at the end. We got behind and stayed behind, basically. We battled back and had a chance at the end, but it just didn’t go our way.
Ks: How devastating a blow is this to a guy who makes his living with a rope?
TT: Financially, the opportunity to win that much money at the National Finals means a lot. But I don’t really look at it as a devastating blow. It motivates me to do better in the coming years, and to not put myself in this position again.
Ks: There’s no replacing the late, great Walt, but how do you like your head horse herd right now?
TT: I like it. I have horses for all kinds of setups. I have Xena for shorter- and medium-range setups, but you can ride her anywhere if you need to. And I have Blowfish for longer setups. He runs really hard.
Ks: At 6 and 4, you’re entering the school years with your girls, Riley and Payton. I know Hillary and the girls have always gone with you. How’s that going to go?
TT: That’s a good question. They’ll still get to go quite a bit, just not as much. It’ll be good for them to lead more of a normal life.
Ks: What’s your plan for 2014?
TT: I’m going rope with my cousin Chase (Tryan). He heels really good, has good horses, jackpots well and has been to the National Finals. He has experience and treats it like a business, so we’re a great match.