SANDHILLS STOCK SHOW AND RODEO: Fritzlan used Odessa as springboard to NFR

Colten Fritzlan knows a thing or two about making the most of opportunities.

The bull rider from Rifle, Colorado, finished his first full professional year as a breakout star in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in 2020 and earned a spot in the National Finals Rodeo in the process.

He also was named the 2020 Resistol Rookie Bull Rider of the Year.

Getting all the way to Arlington started somewhere and that somewhere was the 2020 edition of the SandHills Stock Show and Rodeo in Odessa. So, as Fritzlan entered Friday’s performance back in the Permian Basin, he took a moment to appreciate just how far he had come in the last 12 months.

“Getting to start the new year in Odessa meant quite a bit,” Fritzlan said. “I won Odessa right out of the gate and it just fired me up and gave me the confidence I needed to carry that momentum throughout the year.”

That momentum nearly got halted when the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic suspended competition. Fritzlan kept working the best way he knew at home, waiting for his chance to get back out there and see if he could earn a spot at NFR.

“I was 16th in the world when COVID hit and the Top 15 cowboys go to NFR,” he said. “I tell you what, it created a feeling that I didn’t like one bit.”

When Fritzlan did return to competition, he was determined to make the most of the opportunity.

The Western Texas College alum earned a second win at the Killdeer (N.D.) Mountain Roundup in early July and had enough high finishes to earn one of those coveted spots at the NFR.

He had plenty of success on the big stage, as well. He finished as the winner in round 4 and had two other third-place rides during the event back at Globe Life Field in Arlington.

He finished the year at No. 3 in the world standings, earning $241,447 along the way.

He earned recognition as one of the top rookies, along with former Odessa College cowboy Ky Hamilton.

“When I bought my rookie card last year, I wasn’t going to sell myself short of being there,” he said. “It’s everybody’s job, I think, to get there if they’re going to pro rodeo and be the best at it.

“When I got there, I just kept it simple and showed up every day and just did my job.”

There was also a point back in 2017 where getting to the NFR may not have happened at all. Fritzlan suffered a broken leg during a ride and had to have surgery in preparation for the national high school rodeo competition.

The bone ended up getting infected and that sidelined Fritzlan for nearly six months.

“I just took lessons every time I got hurt with what it feels like to be on the sidelines and I don’t want to be in that spot ever again,” Fritzlan said. “That time off I think will just fire a guy up even more to win and I wanted to leave my mark when I got back.

“That’s when I got serious a couple of years ago and I want to be the best that I can. Let’s get it done and get it done right.”

Fritzlan’s one ride in Odessa Friday didn’t go quite as planned with him not earning a qualifying score. Despite that, he hopes that he can build off the success from last year into bigger and better things in 2021.

“Consistency is key to me,” he said. “When you show up to your job, that’s all you can do and so I plan to just do that and let the chips fall where they may.”