The senior from Granite Falls, Minn., had reached the championship performance of the College National Finals Rodeo at Casper, Wyo., three times without taking home the prize saddle. On Saturday, Aus wound up on top -- and carried the Vikings into third place.
Aus entered the short go with a solid lead in the standings, so his third-place score of 76.5 points in the final round gave him a score of 315.0 points for the meet -- a comfortable 17.5 points ahead of second-place Jacob Self of Tarleton State (Texas).
Aus wound up accumulating 350 of Valley's 530 team points. That was behind the championship total of Walla Walla (Wash.) Community College (750 points) and runner-up Sam Houston State (Texas) (670).
It was the third year in a row the five-time NIRA Ozark Region champion Vikings have finished in the top four, having placed second in 2010 and fourth last year -- when MVC head coach Ken Mason was recognized as national "coach of the year."
Valley also had both of its bull riding entries in the finale, although only one added to the team score. Seniors Will Crain of Farina, Ill., and Mason Ormesher of Valentine, Neb., joined the seven other riders who were thrown Saturday -- the only one going the full eight seconds, Sam Houston State's Cody Holloway, winding up in second place behind Taggert Elliot of Utah Valley in the title chase.
Crain's two rides for 154.5 points was good for third place, after placing 11th last year, and 170 team points. Ormesher tied for fourth with 152.0 points in two successful attempts, although the 177.5 points he accumulated didn't help the Vikings since he wasn't on the official line-up -- which is limited to six entries.
Valley only got points from one other source, 10 for an eighth-place showing by junior Jordan Corrigan in the first go of saddle bronc riding. Corrigan only completed one of the next two rides and ended up in 16th place.
Sophomore heeler Ben Runyon and Southern Arkansas header Justin Johnson, eighth a year ago in team roping, weren't able to score during the final preliminary on Friday. Meanwhile, the Vikings' two steer wrestlers were unable to advance -- senior Cody Metsker out of the running after being thrown in the second round and sophomore Hunter Lewis coming up with a third-go time of 14.1 seconds.
That was a heartbreaker for Lewis, who needed only an 8.4 for a spot in the top 12 for the finals, having times of 5.3 and 5.4 seconds in his first two attempts.
The Valley women were unable to add on to the 40 points junior Korah Agre gained by tying for fourth place in the first go of breakaway roping. After a no-time in her second try, Agre put up a time of 4.1 seconds Friday -- but that was only good for 21st place.
Junior Lauren Struxness wound up 43rd in breakaway and Agre's no-score in the third go put her in 42nd place in goat tying.
With his victory, Aus becomes the first member of the Vikings' program to come away from the CNFR with a championship since Cody Martin won the saddle bronc riding competition in 2002.