Archive for February, 2017

postheadericon Training days ahead

Beau Schueth battles his bull during the BFO Las Vegas Championship this past December. Up-and-coming bullfighters can be part of the Bullfighters Only Development Camps and receive a chance to be part of the BFO Super Camp, set for May 30-June 3 in Decatur, Texas. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Beau Schueth battles his bull during the BFO Las Vegas Championship this past December. Up-and-coming bullfighters can be part of the Bullfighters Only Development Camps and receive a chance to be part of the BFO Super Camp, set for May 30-June 3 in Decatur, Texas. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

BFO camps offer bullfighters more in-depth education about their sport

Freestyle bullfighters now have a chance to step their game up to the next level.

Bullfighters Only is conducting a series of camps over the next few months to help up-and-coming athletes hone their skills as they plan to participate in one of the most action-packed sport in existence.

“We’re having Development Camps, and the top students from each of those camps will be invited to the BFO Super Camp,” said Aaron Ferguson, founder and CEO of Bullfighters Only.

The Super Camp will take place May 30-June 3 in Decatur, Texas, and will be presented by Fit-n-Wise. Super Camp will be held in a professional sports setting with all of the same bells and whistles as an NFL training camp. Athletes will have the opportunity to work one on one with high-level coaches, trainers and nutritionists in a state-of-the-art facility.

“The great thing about the BFO Super Camp is that it won’t cost anything for those bullfighters who are part of it,” Ferguson said. “They will train with the top bullfighters in the world and have a chance to qualify for the BFO event in Decatur on June 2nd.”

BFO Decatur is a stand-alone event that will feature the top freestyle bullfighters in the game all battling for the $25,000 prize. More information on the event will be released soon.

The first two BFO Development Camps are coming in a few weeks and are designed for intermediate and advanced freestyle bullfighters. The first is set for March 10-12 in San Bernadino, Calif., with world champion Lance Brittan and Ferguson as instructors. The second will be March 17-19 in Sikeston, Mo., with Ross Hill, Toby Inman and Schell Apple putting students through the paces.

“The BFO Development Camps will focus on the technical aspects of our sport,” Ferguson said. “Experienced bullfighters will guide students by placing heavy emphasis on physical fitness, nutrition and the mental approach to the game.

“On the final day of each camp, we will have BFO Discovery Day, where fans and beginners are introduced to the game through a crash course in Bullfighters Only 101. There will be a curriculum and hands-on training with a bull dummy and they may even get to face a live animal.”

The deadline for both camps is midnight on Feb. 28. For more information and to sign up, visit BFO’s website, www.BullfightersOnly.com.

postheadericon Larsen ready for Guymon reunion

Tyrel Larsen competes at the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo last May. He looks forward to the rodeo every year because it's much like a family reunion for the Oklahoma Panhandle State University graduate.

Tyrel Larsen competes at the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo last May. He looks forward to the rodeo every year because it’s much like a family reunion for the Oklahoma Panhandle State University graduate.

GUYMON, Okla. – The first rodeo Charlie Russell Larsen attended was during Pioneer Days last May.

He was just 3 weeks old, and there’s a good chance he’ll return to Guymon every May for the event. He may not have been born in Texas County, but it’s very much who he is. He is the son of Chaney (Latham) and Tyrel Larsen, both Oklahoma Panhandle State University graduates.

Mom was born in the Panhandle and raised near Goodwell. Charlie’s grandfather is Craig Latham, a nine-time saddle bronc riding qualifier to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo who served as the Panhandle State rodeo coach for several years. Dad is a professional bronc rider, too, and is hoping the 2017 season provides him a return trip to the NFR; he qualified in 2015.

Tyrel Larsen will be one of dozens of bronc riders who will be part of the mix for the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 5; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 6; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena.

“I like going every year because it feels like a hometown rodeo to me,” said Larsen, a former college champion. “I feel like I have a few hometown rodeos, but there you have people in the stands, from professors to neighbors to family friends.

“There are a lot of memories in that arena, both good and bad. That was where Chaney and I had a bad wreck (in team roping), but I also won the bronc riding at the college rodeo there.”

That’s why he likes returning “home,” even though he and his family live in Weatherford.

“We try to spend three days there during Pioneer Days,” Larsen said. “It’s good to just hang out and see everybody again. It’s like a family reunion.”

It’s definitely a homecoming for many who have ties to the region once known as No Man’s Land. Whether they attended Panhandle State or lived in the area, there’s are certain comforts of home when they arrive for the Pioneer Days Rodeo.

Like Larsen, dozens of NFR qualifiers have ties to the region, including world champions Robert Etbauer, Billy Etbauer, Tom Reeves, Jeffrey Willert, Taos Muncy, Spencer Wright, Jhett Johnson and Rocky Patterson. All but Johnson and Patterson were bronc riders. Panhandle State is a proving ground for many of the top cowboys in the game.

“A lot of bronc riders go to school there because of all the guys that have been through there,” Larsen said. “When I went to college, we had a bunch of really good guys on the team. When you won at practice, it really meant something.

“It was like you were riding at a ProRodeo. That was a pretty big deal, because it was so competitive. You’re not so star struck knowing you could beat those guys. The more good guys you are around, the better you’re going to be in the long run.”

Larsen has been pretty good. In 2014, he just missed the NFR by finishing 16th in the world. Last year he finished 25th despite missing action in July and August – two of the busiest and most lucrative months in the season.

“I suffered a broken ankle and had surgery the end of June,” he said. “I came back the end of July, and that didn’t work, so I took a little more time off. I did that again, then in the last month of rodeo, I broke two saddles. I just didn’t have much luck last year.”

He’s hoping his luck changes for the better in 2017.

“I started off the year trying to get some redemption,” he said. “Then I realized I was trying too hard to make some things happen. If you don’t push so much, you don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Hopefully that will help.”

He’s not complaining about his time away from the rodeo arena. In fact, he found the silver lining in time spent at home.

“We got to spend lots of time together,” Larsen said. “It’s pretty nice, especially now that he’s about to start walking. He recognizes you. It’s pretty nice to come home to.”

By the time Pioneer Days Rodeo kicks off, Charlie Larsen likely will be waddling his way around Hitch Arena like all other toddlers, and he’ll have plenty of family and friends to keep watch over him while Dad tries to win the Pioneer Days title, a prize that has eluded him.

“It would be awesome to win that rodeo,” Tyrel Larsen said. “It would be like winning my hometown rodeo. So many guys that went to school there have won that title. It should be my time any year now, so I’m just waiting for it.”

postheadericon BFO bullfights return to Lewiston

Nathan Harp competes at the Bullfighters Only Roughy Cup this past December. The BFO will have a 15-man stand-alone freestyle bullfight in Lewiston, Idaho, on May 20. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Nathan Harp competes at the Bullfighters Only Roughy Cup this past December. The BFO will have a 15-man stand-alone freestyle bullfight in Lewiston, Idaho, on May 20. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Bullfighters Only will have a 15-man stand-alone event to benefit Roundup

LEWISTON, Idaho – Because Bullfighters Only at the Lewiston Roundup was such a big hit last year, the rodeo’s organizers are taking it a step further in 2017.

“There was an abundance of people who loved it and wanted more of it,” said Kirby Meshishnek, one of the directors of the Lewiston Roundup. “We’re always looking for ways to better serve the community and to bring in more money to benefit our rodeo.”

Now they’re looking to Bullfighters Only help toward the bottom line while putting on a show that has had people talking for more than five months. The Lewiston Roundup Association donates thousands of dollars to charities in the quad cities region each year.

“It was a hit on social media, and we’ve just had so many people talking about it,” he said. “This is a great opportunity to put on such a prestigious stand-alone bullfight with Bullfighters Only. They put on an awesome show.”

They certainly did last year. On opening night, the 12X & Costa fighting bull called Spitfire beat up Ross Johnson during their fight, but that wasn’t the only time a bullfighter took a hit.

“There are people that want to see wrecks, and with the Bullfighters Only, there are plenty of them,” Meshishnek said. “Everybody loves to watch a big wreck. During Roundup, a couple guys got hooked. On Saturday, Ross Hill tried to do a selfie with his phone and got plowed by the bull.”

It’s enough incentive for Roundup directors to reach out to the BFO again. The stand-alone event will feature the world’s top 15 freestyle bullfighters battling for $25,000 in prize money. They will compete in five three-man brackets, with the five winners advancing to the championship round. The bullfighter that produces the highest-scoring bout in the final round will be crowned the BFO Lewiston champion.

With scores based on a 100-point scale, men can earn up to 50 points per fight based on their ability to exhibit control and style while maneuvering around or over an animal; a bull can earn up to 50 points based on its quickness, aggression and willingness to stay with the bullfighter.

Bullfighters Only is a true man-vs.-beast spectacular. Spitfire will once again be part of the draw – one of many revered 12X & Costa Fighting Bulls that will be on hand in Lewiston.

“To me, it was a no-brainer to bring the BFO back,” Meshishnek said. “It’s a wild, action sport. I believe it’s brought a new excitement to our rodeo and our town.”

Tickets are just $15 and can be purchased at www.lewistonroundup.com/bfo-event.

postheadericon Grasping greatness

World’s best cowboys ready to fight for CINCH Timed Event Championship title

GUTHRIE, Okla. – There is no other event like the CINCH Timed Event Championship of the World.

It’s unique format features 20 of the greatest all-around timed-event cowboys of today, and they will compete in all five disciplines that make up the championship that’s been dubbed the “Ironman of ProRodeo” – heading, heeling, tie-down roping, steer wrestling and steer roping.

Paul David Tierney

Paul David Tierney

“When you compete in so many different events, consistency is the biggest deal,” said Paul David Tierney, the reigning and two-time champion from Oral, S.D. “I’ve just got to keep reminding myself to stay calm and don’t get in a hurry.”

The reason is because the Timed Event is a five-round slugfest that takes place at noon and 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday at the Lazy E Arena. Each contender will make 25 runs before it concludes, so it’s more like a battle of wills. The winner will be the cowboy who best handles the challenges over three days.

“It’s such a tough event with all the different horses and the different events,” said Daniel Green, a two-time titlist from Oakdale, Calif. “You have to be able to adjust to all the different scenarios and challenges that come with it.”

Daniel Green

Daniel Green

The Ironman allows team ropers to wrestle steers and gives steer wrestlers a chance to rope calves. While everyone in the field has experience in multiple events, few do more than one or two through the rigors of the rodeo trail. The Timed Event provides an opportunity to expand on their skills.

“Roping and bulldogging is 50 percent mental and 50 percent physical, but winning is 90 percent mental,” said K.C. Jones, a five-time winner form Burlington, Wyo. “The Timed Event is a huge mental game, and I like that part of it.”

This year’s festivities will include the inaugural Jr. Ironman Championship, which will feature 10 top cowboys who range in age from 15-20.

Kyle Lockett

Kyle Lockett

The Jr. Ironman will begin at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday. It’s an outstanding opening act for the greatest all-around timed-event cowboys in the world competing in the most challenging contest in the sport.

They also will be on site to witness one of the greatest spectacles in Western sports history.

“Just to be considered one of the best Timed Event guys is a special honor,” said Kyle Lockett, a two-time champ from Visalia, Calif. “You can’t get caught up in it. You’ve just got to go at one animal at a time. You can’t afford to screw up.

“There’s stuff that’s going to happen. You can’t plan on anything until Sunday afternoon when everything is said and done.”

It all adds up to a magnificent championship featuring world-class competition. It’s just what fans have come to expect.

postheadericon Bay City rodeo ready to entertain

BAY CITY, Texas – People in this community tucked near the Gulf of Mexico deserve to enjoy family-friendly entertainment.

That’s the belief of the organizers of the Matagorda County Fair and Rodeo, which is why they work so hard to make this exposition one of the best in the region.

“I think we’re a small-town event and that we have a very friendly atmosphere and environment,” said Julie Culver, the fair’s manager. “With our rodeo, we have some different things we do in addition to the PRCA events. We have local events that bring a lot of community activity.”

It’s that local flavor that add so much to the county’s rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Thursday, March 1-Saturday, March 3, at the Matagorda County Fairgrounds.

“We have the carnival going outside, but inside, we have a great event,” Culver said. “We have a great producer who brings great stock, and we have a great announcer.”

Dallas-based Pete Carr Pro Rodeo produces the event, and Andy Stewart is the in-house announcer. Both have received numerous nominations for year-end honors in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association; Carr for Stock Contractor of the Year and Stewart for Announcer of the year. Only five people in each category receive those nominations.

“Everybody works together to pull it off,” she said. “They work very hard to make sure our event is very family-friendly, and that is important to us.”

This year’s rodeo will feature the award-winning comedy of John Harrison, who will be the clown and entertainer for the three-night event. Harrison has been named Comedy Act of the Year each of the past three seasons.

“We know he’s funny and that he’s won awards, but the big thing to me was that he has different acts,” Culver said. “For some of our rodeo fans who come to all three performances, they’ll get a chance to see a different act each night. We were looking to keep each performance fresh.”

Part of that falls on the production from the Carr firm. Because rodeo is a mixture of entertainment and competition, having smooth transitions from one to the other is vital.

Harrison, Stewart and Carr aren’t the only award-winning pieces of the rodeo puzzle. Sandy Gwatney is the reigning PRCA Secretary of the Year, and she returns to Bay City. Also in the mix are Clay Heger, a two-time nominee for Bullfighter of the Year, and Jeremy Willis, a two-time finalist for Pickup Man of the Year.

“Pete and his crew area absolutely fabulous,” she said. “They work great with the directors, and they come in behind the scenes and help take care of things. They are all very easy-going people, but they’re very cautious about the cowboys’ safety and the safety of the stock.

“The whole thing is very well-rounded. They bring good stock, and that helps bring the cowboys. They’ve been here a long time, so they know.”

It’s made for a solid partnership that benefits the members of the community and the contestants that compete.

postheadericon Bringing the fight to Claresholm

Beau Schueth will be one of three top men from Bullfighters Only that will compete Saturday at the Chad Besplug Invitational in Claresholm, Alberta. He will be joined by Canadian Daryl Thiessen and Texan Weston Rutkowski. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Beau Schueth will be one of three top men from Bullfighters Only that will compete Saturday at the Chad Besplug Invitational in Claresholm, Alberta. He will be joined by Canadian Daryl Thiessen and Texan Weston Rutkowski. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Chad Besplug Invitational adding to its excitement with Bullfighters Only

CLARESHOLM, Alberta – Freestyle bullfighting exploded back onto the scene in 2016 thanks to the men of Bullfighters Only.

The BFO created a buzz around the sport by showcasing the greatest talent in freestyle bullfighting history, and that detonation has spread into Canada. Three of the top athletes will be exhibiting their talent during the Bullfighters Only event in conjunction with the Chad Besplug Invitational, set for 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Claresholm Agriplex.

“I’m really excited to be able to go head-to-head with some great bulls in Claresholm,” said Weston Rutkowski, the No. 1 bullfighter in the world from Haskell, Texas. “I’ve never fought bulls up there, so it’s going to be another great new experience for me and for the BFO.”

Rutkowski will be joined by Nebraskan Beau Scheuth, the fifth-ranked man in the standings, and Daryl Thiessen of Elm Creek, Manitoba.

“This is really huge for Canada,” Thiessen said. “With Weston, Beau and me, it’s going to be a pretty deep bullfight. I’m excited for the people up here to see what this is all about.”

A big part of Bullfighters Only’s success lies within the heart-stopping action that comes with the extreme danger in freestyle bullfighting. Men will try to stay within inches of the bulls, which are bred to be part of this type of fight. The most successful will keep the animal engaged closely while showcasing true athleticism to stay out of harm’s way.

The more engaged the animal is, the likelihood for good scores increases. With scores based on a 100-point scale, men can earn up to 50 points per fight based on their ability to exhibit control and style while maneuvering around or over an animal; a bull can earn up to 50 points based on its quickness, aggression and willingness to stay with the bullfighter.

“That’s what bullfighting is about,” said Thiessen, noting that fellow Canadian Aaron Ferguson founded the BFO and still serves as its CEO. “Aaron has found a way to bring freestyle bullfighting to the mainstream. He’s brought in a lot of outside fans, and the interest in the sport is growing.

“It’s an exciting sport, and fans love it.”

The excitement comes in the man-vs.-beast approach. Spanish fighting bulls are bred to be aggressive and agile, and it takes a true athlete to get close to the hoof-pounding beast while staying just far enough apart to stay out of harm’s way.

“It’s 60 seconds with you and one bull,” Thiessen said. “By the end of the fight, one of you is going to know who won. It’s you vs. him. There are no other factors that play a part. You have to leave everything you’ve got in the arena if you want a chance to win.

“To be in front of Canadian fans is going to be amazing. I’m pretty excited for this. I don’t want to get beat on my home turf, so there’s going to be lots of pressure to do well.”

postheadericon Excitement fills BFO openers

Zach Call kicked off the 2017 Bullfighters Only season by winning the title in San Angelo. (RIC ANDERSEN PHOTO)

Zach Call kicked off the 2017 Bullfighters Only season by winning the title in San Angelo. (RIC ANDERSEN PHOTO)

From big scores to bigger wrecks, three Bullfighters Only events had it all

The opening weekend of the 2017 Bullfighters Only season lived up to what everyone expected.

With three events spread across North America, freestyle bullfighting’s best put on a show in Brighton, Fla.; Red Deer, Alberta; and San Angelo, Texas.

“It was the perfect way to kick off our season,” said Aaron Ferguson, founder and CEO of Bullfighters Only. “We crowned our first three champions and had great crowds at all three events.”

Daryl Thiessen of Elm Creek, Manitoba, won in Red Deer, while Toby Inman of Davis Junction, Ill., took the title in Florida. Zach Call – one of three men to fight in both Brighton and San Angelo – claimed the west Texas title.

“When I saw the first bull come out in San Angelo, I knew they were going to be a great set,” said Call of Thedford, Neb. “I knew I was going to have to hold up my end of the deal if I wanted it to end well.”

Call did his part, scoring 87.5 points to win San Angelo. Schell Apple of Fay, Okla., was second, while the No. 1 man in the BFO, Weston Rutkowski, was third. All three had solid bulls, animals that kept the action tight. In fact, Rutkowski’s bull got the better of him, hooking him in the corner and dropping him to the ground.

“Some days are diamonds, then some days you get thrown against the wall, get beat up, get your vest and shirt ripped off you and have to go back to the fight,” he said. “It’s not how long you’re down but how you finish.”

Like most bullfighters, Rutkowski wears a padded vest to protect his torso. The bull got its horn under the vest and ripped it from the bullfighter. Once Rutkowski regained his feet, he went back to the bull and finished the fight by jumping the animal.

“I was going to jump him no matter what,” he said. “It’s a very humbling sport. One minute you can be on top of your game, and the next you can be under your bull.”

Call didn’t have any problems with his animal, though. In fact, the two danced across the San Angelo Coliseum as if they’d rehearsed. Call remained in control during his fight, making several fakes to keep the aggressive Spanish fighting bull at bay.

“As far as events go, that was one of the best I’ve ever been to,” Call said. “The crowd was really into it. While the fight was going on, it felt great. The bull was honest, but he was also extremely hot. He was blowing through all the fakes, so I was able to keep in control.”

While his fight didn’t go as he would have hoped in his return to west Texas, Rutkowski realized just how special it was to compete at the historic stock show and rodeo.

“Zach put on a great fight, and so did Schell (Apple),” Rutkowski said. “I’d rather go to a bullfight with guys like that, ones that are going to be great, especially with great bulls.

“That crowd is a very knowledgeable crowd. They know what a good ride is and a good roping run. I’m not sure if they fully knew what to expect with the freestyle bullfights, but once they watched the first one they knew the danger factor and what all we were going to do.”

Call, Rutkowski and Schell Apple, arrived in San Angelo on Saturday afternoon after flying in from Florida, where they had competed Friday night. That, too, was quite an experience for the bullfighters.

A transportation mishap stalled the initial stock contractor, who was to have a trailer load of Spanish fighting bulls in Brighton. The replacements didn’t make it on time for the Friday bullfight, so Bullfighters Only opted for another option: cross-bred bulls that were already at the rodeo grounds for the Brighton Field Day Festival and PRCA Rodeo.

“We fought big, scary swamp Brahmas that were in the back pens,” Rutkowski said. “There is a big difference between the cross-bloods and the Spanish bulls. With the cross-breeds, we can take the heart out of a bull with three or four fakes. The Spanish bulls are bred to fight, so they won’t quit you.”

The difference could be seen in San Angelo. All three Spanish bulls battled through each 60-second bout, which made for excitement.

“It’s not very often that I can hear a crowd, but I could definitely hear them after I got hooked down,” Rutkowski said. “It shows what a crowd can make a guy do. These people wanted to see a show, and there wasn’t anything that was going to stop us from putting one on.”

postheadericon Nelsons pave the way for Rangers

ALVA, Okla. – Sometimes things just go the right way.

That happened for the Northwestern Oklahoma State University sister-brother tandem of Tearnee and Wylee Nelson, who scored a second-place finish in team roping this past weekend at the Kansas State University rodeo in Manhattan, Kan.

The Nelsons won the first round with a 6.5-second run and overcame an obstacle in the process.

Wylee Nelson

Wylee Nelson

“I really didn’t know what was going on until I watched the video,” Wylee Nelson said. “It turns out that Tearnee’s horse was bucking.”

That didn’t deter the header, who turned the steer well enough for him to rope two legs.

“It wasn’t good, but it was smooth,” Tearnee Nelson said about a run with no penalties. “Our horses are fresh. I hadn’t roped since (early January). Our second run was better. I had a lot more confidence.”

As the last team to go, the siblings knew they needed to be smart in the short round. They watched several teams struggle, including several that failed to record a time.

“We knew we just needed to go knock one down, and we’d be alright.”

Tearnee Nelson

Tearnee Nelson

It worked. When Wylee caught just one leg, the five-second penalty meant the run was 11.9 seconds. They finished second in the round and average. It’s a solid start to the spring segment of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association season.

“On the second run, I probably should have tracked over the steer a little more and made sure I caught two feet,” he said. “I’ve been roping quite a bit at home. We went to Denver and a couple of ProRodeos this winter and stayed sharp.”

Now they need to keep that momentum rolling along the right track. The Central Plains Region is only halfway done at this point, and the contestants are all vying to finish among the top three in their respective events to qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo.

The Nelsons weren’t the only members of the Northwestern rodeo team to finish strong in Manhattan. Another Rangers tandem, Kass Bittle and Edgar Fierro, finished third in the opening round and sixth overall.

All-around cowboy Maverick Harper made two solid runs to finish second in steer wrestling to lead a solid group there. In all, five Rangers earned points, with Grayson Allred (fourth) and Colten Madison (sixth) placing in the average. Riley Westhaver won the first round with a 4.7-second run, while Talon Roseland finished third in the round.

Allred added points in tie-down roping. He placed in both rounds and finished fourth in the average. Taylor Donaldson finished sixth overall, while Mason Bowen won the first round.

The Northwestern women placed third at K-State, and the men tied for third. In the women’s race, Katie Miller contributed solidly. Miller placed in both rounds of goat tying and placed in a tie for third in the average. Melissa Courture placed in a tie for fourth in the opening round.

Ashlyn Moeder led the Northwestern barrel racers by placing in both rounds and finishing third in the average. Sara Bynum placed in a tie for fourth.

Still, Tearnee Nelson led the way for the Rangers women, and it was nice to do it with her brother.

“We’ve roped together since we were freshmen (in high school),” said Tearnee Nelson, who has been roping since she was about 10 years old. “I knew we had no points (in the standings), so we just needed to go make our run. It’s the same in all my events, so I really had nothing to lose.”

postheadericon Claresholm event to feature Bullfighters Only competition

Weston Rutkowski will be one of three Bullfighters Only men competing at the Alpha Bull Events' Chad Besplug Invitational, set for Saturday in Claresholm, Alberta. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Weston Rutkowski will be one of three Bullfighters Only men competing at the Alpha Bull Events’ Chad Besplug Invitational, set for Saturday in Claresholm, Alberta. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

CLARESHOLM, Alberta – Each year, Chad Besplug wants to have something special for his event in his hometown.

This year’s edition of the Chad Besplug Invitational will be no different, only he’s upping the ante even more with the inclusion of freestyle bullfighting. To make it even more special, the Bullfighters Only bouts will feature some of the top men in the world all hoping to take home the inaugural title in Claresholm.

“Weston Rutkowski is the No. 1 bullfighter in the BFO for a reason,” said Besplug, a two-time Canadian champion bull rider who has also qualified for the PBR World Finals and earned the $100,000 prize at the Calgary Stampede. “He is a phenomenal athlete, and the things he can do in freestyle bullfighting amazes me.”

Rutkowski of Texas is one of three men who will be part of the BFO competition; he will be joined by Nebraskan Beau Schueth, the No. 5 man in the BFO, and Daryl Thiessen of Elm Creek, Manitoba.

“I’m excited to be competing in the bullfights in Canada,” said Thiessen, the lone Canadian to compete at the BFO Las Vegas Championship this past December. “I really think this event in Claresholm will be a home run.”

It should. Just the nature of Bullfighters Only allows for it to be a hit. The fact that it’s tied in with the Chad Besplug Invitational is just another reason to love what happens inside the arena.

Wesley Silcox

Wesley Silcox

“One thing we do is bring in some of the top animals in the game, whether it’s the bull riding or the bullfighting,” Besplug said. “We’re trying to get the top talent up from the U.S. We expect people to witness one of the toughest competitions they’ll see ever.”

That bull riding talent includes top Canadian talent Scott Shiffner, world champion Wesley Silcox and Beau Hill, a PBR World Finals and National Finals Rodeo qualifier. It’s something that fans have come to expect.

“The crowd that comes to this event is really educated about rodeo and bull riding,” Besplug said. “I want to get them off their feet. This is something they haven’t seen before, and I want them to experience just how exciting this is.”

That can happen with the freestyle bullfights. Men will try to stay within inches of the bulls, which are bred to be part of this type of fight. The most successful will keep the animal engaged closely while showcasing true athleticism to stay out of harm’s way.

The more engaged the animal is, the likelihood for good scores increases. With scores based on a 100-point scale, men can earn up to 50 points per fight based on their ability to exhibit control and style while maneuvering around or over an animal; a bull can earn up to 50 points based on its quickness, aggression and willingness to stay with the bullfighter.

“I’m excited to go toe-to-toe with these bulls and show everyone up there what the BFO is all about,” Rutkowski said. “This is a big opportunity for me and for the BFO to be able to compete in Canada and at such a big event in Claresholm.

“I think the fans are really going to enjoy it. It’s exciting. It’s fast-paced, and, man, it’s wild. There’s a good chance you’re going to see some wrecks, or at least some close calls, but that’s what bullfighting is all about. You’ve got to expose yourself to that kind of danger if you want to win.”

postheadericon Scheer rebounds to win chute out

Cort Scheer C5 Rodeo's Classic Bear for 88 points to win the saddle bronc riding title Saturday at the San Angelo Cinch Chute Out. (RIC ANDERSEN PHOTO)

Cort Scheer C5 Rodeo’s Classic Bear for 88 points to win the saddle bronc riding title Saturday at the San Angelo Cinch Chute Out. (RIC ANDERSEN PHOTO)

SAN ANGELO, Texas – Cort Scheer took advantage of opportunity Saturday night at the San Angelo Cinch Chute Out.

Scheer rode his first horse of the night, Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Sweet Maria, for 85.5 points but was still a half point from advancing to the four-man round in saddle bronc riding. Chad Ferley won the eight-man round with an 88.5-point ride on Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Real Fancy, but the two-time world champion suffered an injury shortly after the ride.

Cort Scheer

Cort Scheer

Since Ferley couldn’t compete in the finale, Scheer took his place, then matched moves with C5 Rodeo’s Classic Bear for 88 points to win the title on the final night of the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo.

That was worth $12,500 for the Elsmere, Neb., cowboy, a two-time reserve world champion and five-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier. He snuck past Louisianan Cody DeMoss, who was 87.5 points on Powder River Rodeo’s After Party to earn the San Angelo chute out title.

But Scheer wasn’t the only contestant in the field to take advantage of the situations that surrounded them. Bull rider Douglas Duncan bucked off his bull, Lancaster and Jones’ Bandit, but only after the bull had come down on its front knees. That meant Duncan was awarded a reride.

Douglas Duncan rides Chalk Outline for 92.5 points to win bull riding. (RIC ANDERSEN PHOTO)

Douglas Duncan rides Chalk Outline for 92.5 points to win bull riding. (RIC ANDERSEN PHOTO)

Matched with Carr’s Chaulk Outline, Duncan posted the highest-marked ride of the night with a 92.5. He needed every bit of it, because Chandler Bownds had posted a 91 on Carr’s Lineman. The difference in payout from first to second was $9,000, so it worked out quite well for Duncan.

Barrel racer Tiany Schuster knocked over a barrel – and suffered a five-second penalty because of it – but advanced out of the eight-woman round into the sudden-death championship with the fourth-fastest time. She then rounded the cloverleaf pattern in 14.038 seconds in the finale to earn the title.

In tie-down roping, two former world champions were the first to go in the four-man round, and both Shane Hanchey and Tuf Cooper posted blazing fast 6.77-second runs. The third cowboy, Marty Yates, then bettered the gold buckle tandem with a 6.68 to earn the big check.

A trio of bareback riders scored big in the finale. Wyatt Denny, who rode Pickett’s Delta Glamorous; Bobby Mote, on Powder River’s Craig at Midnight; and Clayton Biglow, on Pickett’s Top Flight, all scored 88.5. Denny won the title based on how the tie-breaker, followed by Mote then Biglow.

The San Angelo Cinch Chute Out promised big scores and fast times, and that’s exactly what the contestants provided the packed house.

San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo
Cinch Chute Out
Bareback riding:
1. (tie) Wyatt Denny, on Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Delta Glamorous, Bobby Mote, on Powder River Rodeo’s Craig at Midnight, and Clayton Biglow, on Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Top Flight, 88.5 points (Denny wins $12,500 by tie-breaker, Mote earns $3,500 and Biglow $2,500); 4. J.R. Vezain, 87, $1,500

Barrel racing: 1. Tiany Schuster, 14.038 seconds, $12,500; 2. Trula Churchill, 14.182, $3,500; 3. Christine Laughlin, 14.562, $2,500; 4. Sarah Rose McDonald, 14.924, $1,500.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Cort Scheer, 88 points on C5 Rodeo’s Classic Bear, $12,500; 2. Cody DeMoss, 87.5, $3,500; 3. Jacobs Crawley, 86.5, $2,500; Wade Sundell, 86, $1,500.

Tie-down roping: 1. Marty Yates, 6.68 seconds, $12,500; 2. (tie) Shane Hanchey and Tuf Cooper, 6.77, $3,000 each; 4. Ty Harris, no time, $1,500.

Bull riding: 1. Douglas Duncan, 92.5 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Chaulk Outline, $12,500; 2. Chandler Bownds, 91, $3,500; 3. (tie) Corey Maier and Marcus Mariluch, no score (Mariluch earned the third-place $2,500 by staying on longer, so Maier pocketed $1,500.