Lassa throws steers with the best in National Permit Challenge
Merrill native Noah Lassa dedicated himself to rodeo events in high school and it paid off with a National High School Rodeo championship in steer wrestling in 2011.
Well, Noah hasn’t slowed down any. In fact, he’s picked up the pace and it directly led to his most-recent success.
He parlayed his second-place ranking in permit standings ($9,640) into an invitation to the 2014 PRCA Permit Holder of the Year Challenge in Las Vegas on Dec. 4, and Noah took down the whole shebang.
In the opening round, he tossed his steer in 4.7 seconds to tie with Jace Melvin, of Fort Pierre, S.Dak. Melvin entered the challenge in first place in the season standings at $12,096.
With the first place on the line, Lassa burst out of the gate on a borrowed horse, launched himself at the steer and threw it to its back in just 4.1 seconds. The closest time in the round of 4.8 seconds came from fourth-place finisher Tyler Gibson, Huntsville, Tex. Melvin’s time of 5.2 seconds gave him a two-round runner-up total of 9.9 seconds, well back of Lassa’s 8.8.
“It was pretty exciting,” Noah said. “I wouldn’t say I was surprised (to win). I was feeling pretty confident.
“I’ve been rodeoing with a lot of these guys in high school and other rodeos. They’re all very good steer wrestlers. All these guys had just as good a year as I did or they wouldn’t be there.
“I’ve been practicing a lot and felt like I was on top of my game, too. I just had to go do my best and let it fall where it falls.”
Noah was using Tyler Pearson’s back-up quarterhorse for the event, a practice he would sometimes use when the rodeos were a particularly long haul. Gibson and Erin Bullin of Longwood, Fla., used the same steed.
The permit challenge rewards the top cowboys in each discipline who are on their permit, a designation they are allowed to keep for the duration of time they are in college. Noah is attending Iowa Central Community College for its welding program. He already holds an associate’s degree in agriculture from the school.
Cowboys are also allowed to buy their rookie card once they earn at least $1,000 in sanctioned money. Noah has chosen to purchase his for 2015.
“When you’re on your permit, you still get to compete with everybody else, you just can’t go to some of the bigger pro rodeos,” Lassa said. “I just bought my rookie card for the 2015 season. Now all my earnings will be going toward Rookie of the year standings.”
Noah took his rodeo travel to a whole ’nother level in 2014. His mother, Lynette, noticed he was in the top five permit standings in the PRCA publication and she had read about how he could qualify for the end-of-year permit challenge if he could at least maintain his standing.
“It was kind of a new deal this year to add timed events,” Lassa said. “I made it one of my goals to get to some rodeos I hadn’t gone to before. It gave me a little more incentive to try harder and drive further.”
So just how much traveling are we talking?
“This year I went to about 45 pro rodeos,” Noah said. “It kept us busy. We went to a couple every weekend in the summer and on and off here in the winter.
“We were gone six days once this summer and went to 4-5 rodeos and another time we were gone nine days and went to five rodeos. It’s nice to be able to go to a couple in the same weekend that are close to each other. We didn’t rodeo as much in the winter the last couple of years, but we’re going to try to go to a couple of the big ones in Denver and Texas. I’m going to try not to go crazy and miss too much class, but I’m going to go to a few.”
When Noah and brothers Adam and Levi don’t have to travel too far, they bring along 2-3 horses. They use recent purchase Rounder or old stand-by Freckles for steer wrestling, and Chip when Noah enters tie-down roping.
No matter the horse or the future event, Noah will remember 2014 in the permit challenge at the South Point Equestrian Center.
“There was a lot of action and it was a pretty high-pressure situation,” he said. “It was a pretty neat experience.”