In 2020, Tanner Tomlinson showcased his team roping talents and took home the Resistol Rookie Header of the Year title, despite a hectic Pro Rodeo season impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, he paired up with Two-time World Champion Heeler Patrick Smith for a shot at his first-ever Wrangler NFR qualification. At present Tomlinson is 29th in the PRCA World Standings with $33,841.35, and Smith is 32nd with $31,698.15.
“Everything right now is big that counts,” Tomlinson said. “Me and Pat made a decision to go have some fun and just make run for run and quit worrying about trying to make the finals or any of that. We just want to get our run together and get some momentum rolling for next year.”
Tomlinson and Smith put their plan to the test and won the Gem State Stampede in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, held Aug. 27–29, with a 4.7-second run, worth $3,184 each. Then, they won second in the first round at the Ellensburg (Washington) Rodeo, which is running from Sept. 3–6, with a 4.9-second run, worth $2,623 a man; and now, they are leading the second round at the Walla Walla (Washington) Frontier Days with a 3.9-second run, which runs from Sept. 3–5.
“I used to try and go fast all the time,” Tomlinson said. “Now I’m trying to ease into where I’m at the jackpot stage—when to know when to just go catch and when to know when to be aggressive and go at them.”
Tomlinson has soaked in all of the insights to Pro Rodeo that Smith has to offer to prepare him in the future.
“He’s helped me learn how to enter and the ropes of everything,” Tomlinson said. “He’s taught me so much here lately. It’s awesome to be able to rope with a veteran like him. It’s crazy how much he knows.”
You can learn from Patrick Smith, too. Sign up for an all-access membership to Roping.com.
When Tomlinson reflects on his Resistol Rookie year, he hopes that future rookie contenders can find the mental strength to stay out on the road, especially during the tough times.
“Out here, you can really get your head down and get frustrated at yourself,” he said. “Don’t ever go home and give up. Always try to stay after it. Set your goals and work hard. That’s another thing that Patrick has helped me learn is the mental game: how to stay focused. If you miss one, just watch the video and learn from it. Learn from your mistakes and don’t ever try and get down.”