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Cole Detton needed a change


October 19, 2023

Cole Detton needed a change.

His rodeo summer was going OK, but if he wanted to contend for a second year-end championship in three years, Detton knew he needed more giddyup in his steer wrestling runs.

The Great Falls teenager turned to an old partner.

He put the saddle back on Tiffany, a 12-year-old mare Detton had first ridden as a freshman in high school.

“Back to old reliable,” said Detton, now a sophomore finance major at Montana State University. “I’ve been riding her since the first time I jumped off. I’ve probably run a thousand steers on her. We have a special connection.

Detton and Tiffany will be together at the Northern Rodeo Association Finals presented by nuWest Builders, Oct. 26-28 at Majestic Valley Arena in Kalispell.

The NRA’s premier rodeo features the top 10 in each event from the Mountain Health Co-Op Tour during the regular season. Eleven year-end champions will be crowned.

Reunited with Tiffany, Detton closed his summer with a flourish, winning Hamilton and Helmville to close out the regular season.

“She perfect,” he said of his four-legged partner. “She is fast, one of the fastest horses out there.”

The horse is owned by former NRA champion Bryant Mikkelson but the Detton family has been riding her for the last five years.

The money won at the last two rodeos Labor Day weekend, and a third-place finish at Boulder, jumped Detton from the middle of the pack to the front of the line in the steer wrestling standings.

“Started slow and finished hot,” Detton said of his season.

He enters his third consecutive NRA Finals with $4,457 won for 2023 in the tightly-bunched field. He has a lead of $809 over Ben Ayre of Glendive.

All 10 finalists have a mathematical chance at the gold buckle. The top five in this year’s standings all competed at the Finals a year ago, along with eighth-place Austin Whitehouse of Dillon, who won the average in 2022.

“It’s a matter of scoring sharp and making the best run I can make,” he said of the three pressure-packed performances. “You have to draw really good steers. I just have to make sure Tiffany is warmed up so she doesn’t buck me off.”

Detton is no stranger to success inside Majestic Valley Arena. In 2021, he won the first and third rounds placed second in the second round and won the average to jump from seventh to first in the standings.

Last year, he placed second in the average and was fourth in the 2022 standings.

“I feel pretty good,” Detton said as the Finals approach. “I like that building.”

Also competing is his younger brother Mitch, who is 10thin the standings. Mitch Detton also qualified in tie-down roping and is in contention for the all-around cowboy title. Mitch Detton will be riding Tease, an 11-year-old mare his brother rode earlier in the summer.

“There’s always competition,” Detton said with a smile about he and his brother. Mitch Detton will haze for his brother at the Finals.

A solid 5-10, 195 pounds, the older Detton began competing in steer wrestling as a freshman in high school. “It was that (rodeo) or football,” he said. “I like steer wrestling. You just have to be an athlete.”

Detton would twice place fifth at the National High School Finals Rodeo and 10th once. He currently competes for the MSU rodeo program in steer wrestling, tie-down roping and team roping.

He credits head coach Kyle Whitaker and assistant coach Savanna Mayer for his ascending improvement.

“We practice every day,” said Detton. “There is a big learning curve. 

I’m getting better. You learn something new every day.”

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