RAPID CITY, S.D. - Steer wrestler Chason Floyd acknowledged he wasn't mentally ready to compete at Rodeo Rapid City.
Floyd was dealing with the loss of his grandmother, Ella Hafner, with whom he was very close. Hafner passed away Jan. 19 at the age of 98.
"I was headed down to slack at Fort Worth (Texas) ... almost to Oklahoma and I got a call from the doctors who told me she was in the hospital," Floyd said. "I turned around and headed back. I got to talk to her, and she died the next day. I didn't feel like rodeoing after that happened."
With his emotions still raw, Floyd chose to go compete at Rodeo Rapid City (Jan. 28-Feb. 4) - and it proved to be a wise choice.
Floyd won the rodeo by stopping the clock in 4.2 seconds at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
"I really feel like my grandmother was watching over me and was with me," said Floyd, 28. "She was like a second mom to me for years."
Three years ago, Hafner moved from Ludlow, S.D., to Buffalo, S.D., to live in an assisted-living facility opened by Floyd's wife, Jesika.
Floyd's performance - he left Rapid City with $3,751 - was even more impressive since it was his first rodeo action since he broke a bone in the arch of his right foot last July in Spanish Fork, Utah.
"It was a nagging injury that wasn't healing right, and when I finally went to the doctor in December they put me in a walking boot for about five weeks. That really seemed to help, and it was really cool to win this," said Floyd, who made his winning run Feb. 2 in Rapid City.
A year ago, Floyd finished 42nd in the WEATHER GUARD® PRCA World Standings with $25,775.
"It wasn't the year I wanted, but I'm hoping to get on a heater now," he said.
When Floyd isn't on the rodeo trail, he works with his wife at the assisted-living facility, ranches with his family and does some construction, but making it to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Polaris RANGER is front and center on his mind.
 "I just have to go and stay positive, and when you don't do well, you have to move to the next one," Floyd said. "That has been the hardest thing for me over the years. It's a mental game. You look at guys like Tyler Waguespack and Ty Erickson and those top guys who make it; they go into the box and they know they are the best. They have that figured out. That's the hardest part of rodeoing, mentally preparing yourself each time. It would be a dream if I could make it to the Finals."
Other winners at the $180,831 rodeo were all-around cowboy Trevor Brazile ($5,131 in tie-down roping and team roping), bareback rider Ty Breuer (86 points on Sutton Rodeos' Pulp Fiction), team ropers Wenceslao Aguilera/Cody Hogan and Cody Snow/Wesley Thorp (4.2 seconds each), saddle bronc rider Shorty Garrett (85.5 points on Sutton Rodeos' Prom Night), tie-down roper Tyler Prcin (8.2 seconds), barrel racer Jessica Leach (12.68 seconds) and bull rider Jeff Bertus, (84.5 points on New Frontier Rodeo's Ur Next).