Archive for April, 2017

postheadericon Champ seeks repeat in ’17

Rutkowski eager to compete at Bullfighters Only event in storied Ada arena

ADA, Okla. – The freestyle bullfighting history inside the Pontotoc County Agriplex is long, and some of the greatest men in the sport have earned prestigious titles in that building.

Weston Rutkowski hopes to add his name to the list when Bullfighters Only conducts a stand-alone bullfight at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 22. Tickets are on sale now at www.bullfightersonly.com.

The Haskell, Texas, man helped set a new standard in 2016, winning the BFO season championship and becoming the first freestyle bullfighting tour world champion in 17 years. After more than 30 events, Rutkowski staked claim to the most prestigious title in the sport since the 2000 season.

Weston Rutkowski holds the Las Vegas Championship belt he earned this past December. It was a key victory en route to his Bullfighters Only world championship. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Weston Rutkowski holds the Las Vegas Championship belt he earned this past December. It was a key victory en route to his Bullfighters Only world championship. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

“Weston is always a contender, and you know he’s going to show up in good shape with the right mindset to win,” said Dusty Tuckness, a founding member of Bullfighters Only and one of the top freestyle bullfighters in the game. “He’s self-disciplined, which is the biggest thing I like about him.”

That work ethic is one reason why Rutkowski is the reigning BFO champion and will be part of the mix during the competition inside the Agriplex.

“That’s where everybody went to make a name for themselves, like Andy Burelle, Wacey Munsell, Dusty Tuckness, Cody Webster … all those great guys,” Rutkowski said. “I am super excited about going to Ada, because I never got to go there before. When I first cracked out, Ardmore (Okla.) was where you went to measure your talent.

“Before Ardmore was Ada. That was the one prestigious event that everybody went to. With the BFO bringing the bullfights back home to Ada, it’s one I’m glad to cross off my list.”

The event will feature 15 men at the top of the game, consisting of five three-man bouts, with the top scores from each session will advance to the championship round. The Ada champion will be crowned from those five bullfighters.

As history has shown, the Agriplex will be a showcase for freestyle bullfighting’s best: 1999 Wrangler Bullfight Tour world champion Lance Brittan, Toby Inman, Evan Allard, Beau Schueth, Zach Call, Schell Apple and several others will join Rutkowski in the ring.

“I’ve seen a lot of Lance’s videos, and he was one of the key guys that changed freestyle bullfighting back in the day,” Rutkowski said. “The first time I get to meet Lance will be when I go head-to-head with him. There’s not a better way to go against a legend like Lance.”

With 15 of the most athletic bullfighters in the game, the Ada competition should be a perfect fit for fans in southeast Oklahoma.

“What’s great about this is that it’s just freestyle bullfighting,” he said. “It’s a two-hour, action-packed event where you have 15 of the best bullfighters of the world. These televised stand-alone events make bullfighting so much bigger. You can go in there and make good money.”

Rutkowski should know. The 2016 BFO champion won more money than any other bullfighter in the a season ago with $41,325.

Rutkowski would like to repeat, and doing well inside the Pontotoc County Agriplex would go a long way toward that. He also knows it takes a great level of work to perform at the top of his game.

“If you want to stay on top, you have to stay motivated,” he said. “I recently hosted a BFO Development Camp and we had a guy that was 38 years old. A year ago he was over 350 pounds; he watched a BFO event last January, and it changed his life. He was inspired to get in shape to fight bulls again. He lost 110 pounds and got to fight at the D-Camp.

“That is very motivating to me. You never know who’s watching. They see the work you put in beforehand, and then they get to see you go out and compete. Knowing the talent in the young guys that are coming up is part of it, too. I have to keep working harder because of the talent that is underneath me.”

And they’re all pointing to the target on Rutkowski’s back. He’s the king of the mountain, and they want his spot.

“That’s the great thing about the BFO,” he said. “You’re going to go up against the best guys every time.”

postheadericon Rangers women win in Kansas

ALVA, Okla. – The little indoor arena in Garden City, Kan., was the perfect fit for some members of the Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo team.

The Rangers won the women’s team title with 420 points, 120 better than the runner-up, Southeastern Oklahoma State University. For the men, Mason Bowen of Bullard, Texas, raced to the tie-down roping championship, winning the first round, placing second in the short round and tying two calves in a cumulative time of 19.1 seconds to claim the average.

Colten Madison

Colten Madison

He also leads the Central Plains Region standings in his event. The same can be said for Colten Madison of Whiting, Iowa, who capitalized on his third-place finish in southwest Kansas to take the top spot in steer wrestling. He had a simple plan of attack as he approached the seventh event of the 10-rodeo season.

“Just make two runs and just place, if anything, and move in the standings,” said Madison, a freshman majoring in agriculture business.

He did that by gathering 90 points in Garden City to push his season total to 480 points. He is 70 points ahead of teammate Cody Devers of Perryton, Texas. That’s important, because only the top three individuals in each discipline advance to the College National Finals Rodeo.

“I’ve been lifting and practicing every day,” said Madison, who began using weights a year ago after suffering an injured rotator cuff in his right shoulder while competing in his home state of Iowa. “I made a friend in town who was a body builder, and he told me he could get me stronger than I was.”

It’s working. He is taking his approach to the final three rodeos of the season with hopes it continues to pay off. They key is to continue grappling the steers to the ground and make as many final rounds as possible. Of course, it helps to have support from his rodeo coach, Stockton Graves, and teammate J.D. Struxness – Graves is a seven-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier, and Struxness is the reigning college champ who qualified for the NFR for the first time last year.

“Stockton and J.D. help a lot,” Madison said. “Back home I don’t have anybody to practice with. Having guys like Stockton and J.D. helping out has made a huge difference.”

Katy Miller

Katy Miller

The women’s title marked just the second time this season the Rangers have claimed a championship. The women won their home rodeo in October, and this past weekend. Goat tier Katy Miller of Faith, S.D., and barrel racer Ashlyn Moeder of Oakley, Kan., utilized strong second-place finishes to guide Northwestern to the crown.

Miller finished second in the first round, short round and average to earn 145 points. She also made the final round in breakaway roping but didn’t garner any points in that discipline.

“I knew going in it was a little indoor barn,” said Miller, who is third in the goat-tying standings. “For goat tying, they’re short runs, so you really have to think about that. If you get off (the horse) late, it could really mess up your run.

“I try to rope on one or two horses every day. I tie goats with a couple of other girls; I try to tie goats every day.”

That hard work is paying off. Miller was one of four Northwestern goat tiers who earned points in Garden City. She was joined by Tearnee Nelson, also of Faith, who placed in both rounds and finished fourth in the average; Jennifer Massing of Ponoka, Alberta, who was fourth in the opening round; and Melissa Courture of Springdale, Ark., who placed third in the first round.

Moeder won the first round and finished in a tie for third in the short round in barrel racing. Her two-run cumulative time of 26.30 seconds propelled her to second overall. She sits second in the region standings. Brandi Hollenbeck of Hutchinson, Kan., roped in heading points while competing with men’s team member Grayson Allred of Kanarraville, Utah. They finished fourth in the short round and fifth in the team roping average.

Another Northwestern tandem – Maverick Harper of Stephenville, Texas, and Tanner Nall of Colcord, Okla. – finished fifth in the long round to gather points.

While Bowen won the tie-down roping title, Cole Patterson of Patterson of Pratt, Kan., finished third. His 10.7-second first-round run was good enough for second, then he finished with a two-run cumulative time of 22.5 seconds. Devers earned a spot in the steer wrestling short round, then placed sixth overall.

The women’s team sits second in the standings and will need a strong finish over the final month of the season if it hopes to return to the college finals in June. The Rangers next stop is this coming weekend in Weatherford, Okla.

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