Mar 25, 2021
Prior to the 2020 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, a lot of people didn’t know who Colten Fritzlan was. Then, $183,000 later, they couldn’t stop talking about the 20-year-old bull rider from Rifle, Colorado.
He left Globe Life Field in Arlington as the NFR champion and was the only bull rider successful on seven out of 10 bulls. It was no surprise to his family, friends and fans. After all, Colten is a veteran that has been climbing aboard four-legged bucking beasts for 14 years. He just celebrated his 21st birthday and started getting on steers and calves when he was seven.
He got on his first bull when he was nine years old, took advantage of every opportunity to compete or get on, and has learned from the best. He has been training with “bull guru” Gary Leffew for more than 10 years and is constantly working to perfect his craft. He still takes advantage of opportunities to get on bulls spending a lot of time in the practice pen. That has been made easier with a move to Lipan just outside of Weatherford, Texas.
After high school, Colten came to Snyder, Texas, to attend Western Texas College, the next step in his career plan. He qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo, finished fifth and was competing on his PRCA permit. Last year he earned the Resistol Rookie of the Year title, beating his traveling partner Ky Hamilton by about $40,000. He started the NFR in 10th place and with the money won in Arlington finished third in the world standings.
That success and momentum is carrying over to 2021. After getting the W at RFD-TV’s the American Rodeo he moved to the top spot in the world standings. He is on track for a second consecutive trip to the NFR, but it will be his first time to compete in the Thomas & Mack Arena in Las Vegas.
Favorite movie: Young Guns – I’ve always watched that since I was young and I still enjoy watching it.
Favorite current TV show: It was The Ranch for a while, but I don’t watch much TV. I really just watch movies.
Dogs or cats: Dogs for sure. I have a corgi-heeler mix (known as a cowboy corgi) named Bandy. She’s about a year old. She’s been on the road with me some, but now she’s staying home. I named her Bandy after the song Bandy the Rodeo Clown.
Favorite dessert: Brownies – straight up simple brownies.
Favorite card or board game: Blackjack or Texas Hold ‘Em. My buddies and I get games going and they can get pretty intense. None of us likes losing.
Favorite sport, other than rodeo: Wrestling. I wrestled since I was five and wrestled up to a freshman in high school. Then injuries put me a step back and I started focusing on rodeo full time.
If you weren’t in rodeo, what would you be doing: Good question, and one I don’t really think about right now because I’m doing what I’ve been working towards most of my life. I’d probably be raising cows and riding horses.
What food would refuse to eat: Tomatoes, I don’t eat them. I will eat them if they are in something like salsa, ketchup, or spaghetti sauce.
Best childhood memory: Definitely going to bull riding events and rodeos when I was little. That taught me a lot of lessons, starting when I was seven until now. Realizing where you can go, meeting people and learning everything I could from every experience.
Rodeo you are most looking forward to in 2021: NFR in Vegas – Texas was great. My goal every year is to get to the Finals. That’s the rodeo I look forward to the most and Vegas has so much history and has added a lot of value to the NFR. Growing up that is where I always wanted to be.
What do you do in your spare time: Ride horses, buck bulls. Hang out with buddies. I like to go fishing and hunting too, but don’t do it as much as I did when I was younger.
What super power would you like to have: Be able to fly – so I could get to rodeos faster, wouldn’t have to drive or get on a plane. Strap rigging bag on my back and just fly.
Best travel partner: In college that would have been my roommate Cullen Telfer. Now I’ve been traveling with Ky Hamilton and Clayton Sellars. We all have the same mentality, only had one thing on our minds. Last year when we showed up generally at least one of us got some money and at a few places we all got paid.
Famous figure you’d like to meet: Conor McGregor – His sport is similar to riding bulls with a different opponent. His mentality is something I’d like to learn more about. I’d love the opportunity to sit down and pick his brain.
Music: Little bit of everything from rock to rap to old country.
Best thing about riding bulls: Feeling you get when you ride one is unexplainable. I was seven when I started and I remember clear as day the first one I got rode. It’s the feeling I want to get everyday and still do. Atmosphere at rodeos is second to none. Stepping off of one in front of a crowdand winning turns it into a business – show up, do your job. I Look forward to it every single day.
What bull is your dream bull to get on: 32Y Bruiser – He is an honest bucker, and you can’t ask for anything better than that. If you rode him, you would be over 90 points. If I could hand pick him at every rodeo, he’d be the one I would get on every day. I like his attitude. He’s not mean and he loves attention. You can pet him behind the bucking chutes and then he’ll fly off like a load of dynamite.
What is the worst injury you’ve ever had: A bull stepped on my leg and broke both bones when I was a junior in high school. It was right before the International Youth Finals Rodeo in Shawnee, Oklahoma. I had surgery and the doctor did his best for me. Then I got an infection. I was on IV antibiotics for six weeks and had more surgery. Six weeks off turned into six months. That was life changing for me, not being able to go to Shawnee. I was planning on going to college and knew that coaches would be there looking. Knowing that while I was home sitting on the couch was depressing. I had a lot of people that got me back on track and I’m stronger for it.
If you could live anywhere where would it be: Right where I’m at is great. I’ve always wanted to be in Texas or Oklahoma. The lifestyle here, riding bulls, ranching doing cowboy stuff, opportunities are endless. If you go to where the opportunities are you can have more success and I don’t really like cold weather.
Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – Instagram all the way.
to Colton talk about the mental approach that got him to Arlington and his weirdest fears on the NFR Extra here.