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Hardwick tops RMSCFR after 13-month surgery recovery

LOVELAND, Colo. – After 13 months of recovering from injury, bareback rider Seth Hardwick is back in action, winning his third RAM Mountain States Circuit Finals Rodeo. 

“It kind of sucked, but that’s the way it is,” Hardwick said, noting that fellow members of Team Wyoming helped him along the way. “It was mid July before I was feeling good again, and I had to learn to ride again and get in shape. It’s harder than you think, missing all that time. I felt like I had a lot of things to accomplish, and I’m young enough that I consider myself still in my prime and I ride with the best of them. I think I can make the NFR several more times, that’s my goal to get back at it.”

Hardwick’s hip surgery was just a few weeks after he placed in seven rounds at the 2015 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Polaris RANGER, moving him from 12th to third in the 2015 WEATHER GUARD® PRCA World Standings with $226,870. 

He missed the entire 2016 season for recovery, but fans at the RMSCFR wouldn’t have guessed it as the 28-year-old from Ranchester, Wyo., placed fourth in the first round with a 79. He returned to the arena with back-to-back first-place rides – 85 points on Harry Vold Rodeo’s Misty Valley, followed by an 86.5-point ride on Harry Vold Rodeo’s Frisky Chicken. 

“I was a little rusty, but I got better on each ride,” Hardwick said. “I drew good on all three, but I rode better – and, all the guys are always positive, and you only ride as good as your competition.”

In 2014, Hardwick was the RMSCFR victor with 250 points on three head. The following year, he repeated the feat with 243 points on his way to qualifying for his first WNFR. This time around, he rode better than ever with 250.5 points. 

“This one means more than the past ones because I had ridden good all year and was in my prime and on top of my game. But this time I missed all of last year and struggled this year and had a more difficult year than past years,” Hardwick said. “I’m not going to say past years were easy by any means, but this year was more challenging. So this means more than in the past. But any time you win the circuit finals, it’s a good confidence-booster.

“For me, it’s a confidence thing and a personal finance boost more than anything for money to rodeo on.” 

He ended the 2017 season ranked 23rd with $56,059, missing his second trip to the WNFR by about $20,000. Now, he’s kicking off the 2018 season with a $6,717 payday. 

“I was in the bubble zone, so I was rodeoing hard in August and September and hadn’t been home in eight weeks, so I was tired and worn down,” Hardwick said. "So it was nice to recover."

Up next, Hardwick is heading to the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton, Alberta, on Nov. 8-12 – which can be viewed online at From there, he’ll take a breather and then hit the rodeo road hard with his travel partner, Orin Larsen. 

“He (Larsen) made it to the Finals this year, and I’m feeling healthy and will wrap up Canada, and then we’ll rodeo our butts off and hope we both make the Finals,” Hardwick said. “The goal is always Vegas.” 

Other winners at the $182,101 rodeo were all-around cowboy Josh Peek ($3,582 in tie-down roping and steer wrestling); steer wrestler Beau Clark (16.0 seconds on three head); team ropers Ty Blasingame/Trey Yates (18.1 seconds on three head); saddle bronc rider Tyler Turco (241 points on three head); tie-down roper Riley Pruitt (26.0 seconds on three head); barrel racer Shali Lord (45.83 seconds on three head); steer roper Chris Glover (52.5 seconds on four head); and bull rider Cordell Curtis (165 points on two head).

For more coverage of the RAM Mountain States Circuit Finals Rodeo, check out the Oct. 27 edition of ProRodeo Sports News.
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