Mission accomplished

Former Steamboat cowboy wins world title at senior rodeo finals


— Back in 1975, Jim Holt jumped on the back of his first bull at a jackpot rodeo in Steamboat Springs and began dreaming of the day he would win one of those big gold belt buckles that go along with a world title.

On Sunday, he proved that you're never too old to realize a dream.

Despite missing six weeks in August and September with a separated shoulder and broken collarbone, Holt won a go-around on the back of a 2,000-pound black bull named Romeo at the National Senior Pro Rodeo Association Finals to secure the overall World Title. That rodeo was held in Reno, Nev., Oct. 28-Nov. 3.

"There were some pretty tough bulls in Reno," Holt said. "Only two cowboys rode bulls in that go."

The 70-point ride was all Holt needed to hold off a late run by California cowboy Donnie Miller, who placed second, and another Colorado cowboy, Ken Harshbarger, who placed third for the title.

"This is my first world title of any kind," the 52-year-old bull rider said. "I've always dreamed about winning one."

After getting hooked on bull riding as a youngster in Steamboat Springs, Holt has spent most of his adult life competing in local jackpot events and lower-level rodeos and moving from place to place in northern Colorado.

He said he never gave much thought to joining the Professional Cowboy Rodeo Association when he was in his prime. But his love for the sport prompted him to give it another try in 1990, when he became a member of the NSPRA.

Holt lived in Steamboat Springs from 1955 until he graduated from high school in 1968. He left that year for a four-year stint with the U.S. Navy.

After his discharge, he returned to civilian life in Northwest Colorado but was drawn away from Steamboat by his job as a field operator with the Questar Corp., servicing natural gas wells.

"That's my real job," Holt said. "You can't make a living riding on the senior rodeo circuit it just doesn't pay."

Holt lived in Craig until last year, when his company moved him to Baggs, Wyo.

But the change of address wasn't the only change in Holt's life. He had not ridden competitively since 1995, but a good friend, Wes Hertzog, talked Holt into returning to the rodeo road just this year.

Hertzog and Holt traveled around the United States and Canada with another good friend, Kent From, all summer. Holt thinks he competed at about 30 of the 100 rodeos the senior tour offers.

After last Sunday's final rodeo, Holt owned the bull riding title, Hertzog held the 40-50 saddle bronc title and From held the 50 and over saddle bronc title. Both Hertzog and From are residents of Craig, and all three men have been traveling partners this entire season.

Holt said he was happy to have won the title, but the idea of being a world champion was just starting to sink in.

"I didn't even know that I had won it until the last bull came out," Holt said.

The 2002 Senior National Finals Rodeo took place at the Reno Livestock Events Center. More than 350 top-ranked contestants competed for $200,000 in prize money, a world title and that big shinny gold belt buckle that every little cowboy dreams of owning someday.


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