Meet the Member Ryan Bestol
story by Lindsay Humphrey “I’m not much of a planner,” said Ryan Bestol of his storied rodeo career so far. “When I get something in […]
story by Lily Weinacht
Triston Eklund from Valentine, Neb., is leading the saddle bronc riding in the NSRA. The 19 year old has been busting broncs since his freshman year of high school, joining the NSRA four years ago. A three-time NHSFR qualifier, he secured the NHSRA Saddle Bronc Champion title twice back to back in 2013 and 2014, the very same title his uncle, Matt Elliot, won in 1996. “I rope calves and steer wrestle too. Sometimes I’ll enter in all three, or I’ll just pick and choose depending on the rodeo,” says Triston. “I used to ride bulls and team rope, but since my uncle was a bronc rider, I always figured I would be too. It’s a tough event and kind of hard to figure out. Plus it’s an adrenaline rush – and I like that!”
Triston began competing in rodeo in eighth grade, starting with junior rodeos. Initially, he wanted to rodeo since it was the sport his mom and uncle grew up competing in, but year by year, his own passion for rodeo became his drive. “It’s just a whole lot of fun!” says Triston. “And it’s a stepping stone for me to go pro.” He adds, “My uncle, Matt Elliot, helps me out a bunch, and a friend of mine, John Lemmon, brings in bucking horses every Wednesday and I get on those.”
A sophomore this year, Triston transferred from Central Wyoming College in Riverton to Mid-Plains Community College in McCook, Neb., where he is rodeoing on a scholarship and working on his degree in Business Management. Competing in the saddle bronc riding, as well as tie-down roping and steer wrestling, he is looking forward to a new season of college rodeo now that he knows the ropes. He also has a qualification for the CNFR in his sights.
Since the college is only three hours from his home in Valentine, Triston spends many of his weekends at home, unless he’s rodeoing. He visits his dad, Jarred Eklund, in Lincoln, Neb., while his mom and stepdad, Misti and Boe Brown, live in Valentine. Misti, who still competes in barrel racing and breakaway roping, keeps her horses outside of town on Matt Elliot’s place. Likewise, Triston uses his uncle’s calf horses for college rodeo, and the two saddle bronc riders travel together once in a while. Triston’s sister, Mataya Eklund, is also competing in the NSRA, and they occasionally enter rodeos together, while their two brothers, Noah and Dillon, rodeoed for a few years when they were growing up.
Before heading back to school, Triston was riding several horses for his uncle, and though he also worked a job processing cattle, his goal is to rodeo full time. “I also like to go fishing and golfing,” he says. “There’s a ton of places around here to fish, but I like to head to Merritt Dam and fish for Walleye. I’ll fillet and bread them, and cook them up – they’re pretty good that way.” Triston also enjoys taking boats out on the lake, but rodeoing is his top priority every summer.
“The Clearwater rodeo is my favorite in the NSRA – they have good bucking horses, and they really pack the stands. It’s a blast!” Triston explains, adding, “I’d like to make it to the college finals, and down the road, I’d like to rodeo and make a living at it without going broke. I’m getting my PRCA permit this coming new year, and we’ll see how it goes!”
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