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APTOPIX National Finals Rodeo

Ty Erickson, of Helena, competes in the steer wrestling event during the seventh go-round of the National Finals Rodeo on Dec. 12, 2018, in Las Vegas.

HELENA — With the 40th annual Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit Finals scheduled for this Friday through Sunday, two Capital City athletes are ranked top-three in the standings heading into the event in Great Falls.

Year-end champions and Finals average winners in the Montana Expo Park this weekend will qualify for the 2019 RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Kissimee, Florida, in March.

Helena’s Ty Erickson is ranked second in the steer wrestling with earnings of $11,152. He is a mere $324 behind leader Hank Hollenback of Molt, who sits atop the leader board with $11,476.

A five-time WNFR qualifier, Erickson owns four MPCFR championships (2011, 2012, 2015, 2016). Helena native Shawn Downing of Saco is ranked eighth in steers at $5,554.

Barrel racer Rene’ Cloninger of Helena placed runner-up in the 2018 year-end standings, and is rated No. 3. She has pocketed $9,828 to date. Cloninger will be aboard her mount CM Dynamite Miss Tiv ("Dixie"), last year’s Montana WPRA Horse of the Year.

Cloninger’s daughter, Shelby (Blixt) Gill, finished seventh in the season earnings, but is expecting a child in March and will skip the finals in Great Falls.

Boulder's Pascal Isabelle stands second in bareback bronc riding, $11,552. Spur LaCasse, also from Boulder, is in ninth place.

In tie-down roping, Jade Gardner of the Capital City stands fifth with earnings of $4,715.

Helena's Chase Tryan (heeler) is in sixth place in the team roping standings at $6,301 with partner Cody Tew of Augusta. The tandem were the 2017 Circuit titlists.

Tryan recently placed sixth in the PRCA year-end world standings. Wolf Creek’s Sam Levine (header) is sitting in eighth.

Huntley bull rider Guy Nordahl, another Helena native, is ranked 12th. Last year, Nordahl finished runner-up and qualified for the 2018 RAM National Circuit Finals.

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Curt Synness is on Twitter @curtsynness_IR and can be reached at curt.synness@lee.net or curt52synness@gmail.com

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