For seven of his eight decades, J.W. Stoker has entertained rodeo and western fans. The Weatherford, Texas cowboy has criss-crossed the nation and the globe, […]
On The Trail with Colten Fritzlan
Written by: Siri Stevens< Back to Articles
The 20 year old just won RFD TV the American in the bull riding with a show-stopper ride aboard Chad Berger’s Safety Meeting. “He had me bucked off a couple times and you ask yourself how bad do you want to win and I’m glad it worked out.” Colten now lives in Lipan, Texas. “I’ve lived in Texas for the past three years; there’s more opportunities for me down here and I wanted to be around it as much as I could.”
Winning the American was a dream come true for Colten. “When the American started I was in high school and it’s always stuck out to me as somewhere I’d be and to win it was always something I wanted. To put it all together and come out on top – I was blessed to get it done. The Lord put that in my path to win and I’m glad he did and looking forward to weekends to come.”
The win put $50,000 towards the PRCA standings and $100,000 in his pocket. “I’m savoring how to spend it I’ll put some toward my place or just whatever I need.”
Colten grew up in Rifle, Colorado, learning to ride at a young age. When Colten’s interest in roughstock turned serious as a seven-year-old, the Fritzlans delved into buying and selling mini bulls, steers, and bulls.
He competed in the National Little Britches, placing the first year he went. He made the short round in the team roping the other two years. The most instrumental for his bull riding comes from his mom, Velvet, who has been known to pull his bull rope, and his Dad, “I was blessed; whatever I needed I had, along with the responsibilities. Really a person I look up to is Kody Lostroh. I got around him at a young age. We had a rodeo Bible camp every year – He’s a world champion and one of the best guys I’ve met – and always wanted to be like him.”
Kody taught rodeo Bible camps throughout his career and spent times with Colten at those camps. “I know that Colten is one of those kids that never missed an opportunity to practice so whenever we were bucking bulls he was there,” said the 2009 PBR World Champion Kody Lostroh. “The great athletes that have gone before me have always been my heroes and that inspired me – Colten grew up watching me and I was always around to help him.” Kody resides with his family, Candace, and two daughters, Sheridan and Odessa, in Ault, Colorado, raising bucking bulls and he has a small metal fabrication business. He also guides hunters in the winter – Comanche Wilderness Outfitters, where he is the mountain lion guide. “I’m so proud of the work he’s put in to get to where he’s at. He didn’t get where he is by luck, he’s put the work into it. I’m happy for him and his future.”
Colten attended college at Western Texas College in Snyder. “It’s a great fit for me,” he said. “That school took care of me really well.” He went there for two years and under the guidance of coach Greg Rhodess, he learned how to take the sport of rodeo as a business. “He taught us how to be strong on the mental side. You get around guys like that – get the job done until it’s done – it ups your confidence and determination.”
“Individuals like Colten separate themselves from the rest of the pack,” said Greg, who has been coaching for 24 years at Western Texas College. “It didn’t matter what needed to be accomplished he was all in. I don’t think he did any pick up duties before he showed up here and by the end of the first semester, he became handy at it. No matter if it was school or practice, he was all there. He never had to be told something twice – once he decides to nod his head it’s to get the job done.”
On the physical side of things, Colten hits the gym every once in awhile, but he stays busy. “I don’t slow down at all. I ride horses, pick up bucking horses, and rope. I’ll do drills around the house.” Colten was always better at bull riding because he’s worked at it the most. “Bull riding is my favorite since I’ve been doing it the longest, but I also like that you’re not just competing against the animal or another competitor, but you’re bringing those forces together and seeing how it comes out when you make eight.”
He admits to doing the other events to stay busy. “I don’t like standing around; I wanted to be a cowboy, just not a bull rider. Riding broncs and roping kept me from sitting around all day waiting to get on.” He competed as a wrestler until he was a freshman in high school. “I had a bad elbow injury and I had to get serious about my bull riding. I could wrestle for four years, or get it healed now and rodeo for the rest of my life.” Colten has had four surgeries on his elbow.
Last year was his first trip to the NFR, placing 10th, riding 7 out of ten; and winning the average as well as Resistol Rookie of the Year. “I just knew I belonged there and I didn’t want to blow up anything – keep it as simple as I could, knowing my job at hand and that’s it – do my job and win. I’m glad it all worked out.”
When Covid hit last year, Colten was trying for Houston. “I was 16th in the world. We were out of rodeo for a month or two. It drove me nuts – I didn’t want to be there or liked being there. I stayed in the gym and kept going to the practice pen. I knew when there was a rodeo to be at, I would be.” Cave Creek was his first rodeo back and he won second and it continued from there. He broke his jaw in July and the injury took him out of some of the summer rodeos. “I got jerked down and broke my jaw on both sides – they put plates and screws in my mouth. It wasn’t fun, but what I did during that time is hang out at the house, rode my colts and horses, and worked on my ranch pickup.”
His win at the American will help keep him in the lead heading into summer. “I want to win a world title,” he concluded. “I didn’t get my bulls rode last year – they give you ten head and I fell short of riding all ten.
The long term plan for Colten includes “a big old ranch with a bunch of horses and cows. I’d like to have some good pick up horses as well as a set of bulls for kids around to learn off of.”
In the meantime, his advice to the younger generation coming up is to work at it every day. “It gets you down, and that’s when you get up and try harder. Don’t quit and keep going.” Colten knows that first hand. He was plagued with injuries at a younger age. “I couldn’t ride anything or anywhere. It was rough. I knew it was for a bigger reason and I got a hold of some different people to change my mentality and here we are.”