The Missouri Valley College junior won the second long "go" in bareback riding and took the early lead in the third round. During the morning slack, Aus posted a score of 81.0 points -- an impressive 3.5 points over the second-place rider, Greg Vezain of defending champion Vernon (Texas).
During the evening show, Aus' 78.5 points put him 6.5 points ahead of Casper (Wyo.) College's Chance Madsen. However, nearly three-quarters of the field -- including Valley senior David Clapp -- has yet to compete in the third round.
Aus has tallied 175 points for the Vikings, who rose to seventh place in the team standings midway through the preliminaries. That tally could change, especially if other contestants pass Aus for the lead in the third go, but the 2010 reserve champions are running ahead of their pace of a year ago.
Clapp was thrown for the third time in bull riding, as was senior Will Crain in his second turn, but neither is out of the hunt. Only 11 riders have made eight seconds through two full rounds, two scoring twice, and only one score has topped 80 points.
Senior Will Smith, who was second in the first go of saddle bronc riding, wasn't able to stay on his mount in the second round and is currently in 23rd place. However, with only two riders going two for two, Smith still has a shot of making it to the finals.
Sophomore Cody Metsker tied for eighth place in the second go of steer wrestling with a time of 5.3 seconds, but didn't score later in the day. His combined score of 10.7 seconds currently puts him in third place, but there are 18 entries who still have their third rides coming up and already have two scores in the books.
The team roping duo of Valley freshman heeler Ben Runyon and Southern Arkansas header Justin Johnson improved slightly in the second round, their 11.0 seconds good for 13th place in the heat. They are in 20th place overall, with one more attempt to come today, but only two teams have yet gone three for three.
Also finishing up their preliminaries today for the Vikings are Clapp in bareback, where his is currently in 25th place, and Crain in bull riding.