RENO - Bryce Miller had ridden Ellensberg Blues before at a rodeo in Nampa, Idaho and turned in a solid 81.
Miller was even better the second time around, scoring an 84 on his first go-round in saddle bronc Thursday night at the 87th annual Reno Rodeo at the Reno Livestock Events Center.
The 84 was the second-highest in the first round, trailing just veteran Red Lemmel, who posted a no score on his second ride after an opening 86.
"He was pretty young," Miller said of his ride. "He was a little nervous. It makes you (as a rider) nervous. Most of the serious injuries can take place in the chute.
"I've had a little success here. Last year I made the short round. I didn't do so well in the short round. I placed in one of the rounds. The year before I made the short round."
And, his 84 gives him an excellent shot at making Saturday's finals. He drew Oregon Trail, the same horse that Lemmel rode on his first ride.
"I actually ran into him (Lemmel) at a gas station as he was leaving town, '' said Miller, who got some tips from the veteran rider.
A point behind Miller is defending saddle bronc and all-around champ Cody DeMoss, who is No. 1 in the world in saddle bronc. DeMoss, who was the first rider in the group, scored an 83 aboard Major FW. The horse came out of the chute bucking hard and never stopped for the entire eight seconds.
"I don't like going first," said DeMoss, who said that judges sometimes forget about the riders in the middle because they base scores on the first rider. "I didn't know anything about him (the horse). He was a good horse. He was an older horse. He'd been around the block a few times."
Ira Slagowski, the only Nevadan in Thursday's group, turned in an 82 aboard Holly Time. He too has an excellent shot at making the short round.
"That (score) is all right for the first round," Slagowski said. "I've never had a great deal of luck here. I made the short go here about six or seven years ago. Last year I was hurt and didn't do well. In fact, I didn't rodeo after Reno."
Slagowski admits he would like nothing better than to win those spurs given to each event winner. He said he doesn't feel any added pressure being from Nevada.
"No, not really," he said. "All the rodeos are of equal importance."
Kyle Joslin moved into second place in bull riding with an impressive 88 aboard Power House Patrol. Only three riders - Joslin, James Miyagishima (82) and Marcus Michaelis (78) - lasted the full eight seconds. Evan Matthews had a nice ride going, but was thrown just .2 before the buzzer.
"I had him when he was real young," Joslin said. "He's gotten bigger, stronger and better."
Miyagishima fell awkwardly on his shoulder and had to be helped out of the arena.
Trent Cormier is second in bulls at 88, Jason McClain is next at 87 and Mike Chaffin Jr. is at 85. Justin McDaniel is fifth at 84.
Clayton Foltyn posted the best score in bareback, 82, aboard Short Bar, which matched his bull riding score. Chad Klein was next with a 78 followed by Dustin Murray and Scott Montague at 76.
"She was really good," Foltyn said. "She stayed pretty good the whole time."
Shelly Anzick had the fastest time in the barrel race at 17.34 and moved up to fourth overall at 34.68.
Washoe Valley's Lita Scott, who was in the top 10 in the world for three straight years in the 90s, tied for the second-fastest time of the night at 17.37 with Maegan Reichert in barrel racing. It wasn't enough to get Scott to the short round, however.
Kelly Kaminski, two-time world champion, was fourth for the night at 17.43.
Terry Kaye Kirkland still leads the barrel racing at 34.14 followed by Lindsay Sears at 34.24.
In steer wrestling, Seth Brockman and Ken Lewis turned in the best times of the night, each clocking a 5.4. Jim Banister was next at 5.7. Curtis Cassidy and Spud Duvall are tied for first at 8.7 and Lee Graves is third at 9.1.
Team ropers had a tough night. For the second straight performance, only one team - Josi Young and Dan Whitworth - were successful. The duo was timed in 5.6. Wade Wheatley and Kyle Lockett are first overall at 11.1 and Turtle Powell and Mickey Gomez remained in second at 11.3.
Cash Myers turned in the best time Thursday in tie-down roping, 8.4, and Jon Peek was next at 9.6.
Notes: Carson City resident Martha Keating won two free round-trip tickets on Southwest in a drawing ... The national anthem was sung by Briane Spiersch ... Painted Salley threw a fit in the chute and almost tossed bareback James Sursa off.