PBR Challenge brings best bulls, riders to Kearney, Neb.
January 4, 2012
When the bulls come to town, the best riders tend to follow. The Midway Auto Dealership PBR Challenge, held in Kearney, Neb., on December 17th, brought out some of the best bull riders in the business.
However, this event was not dominated by the veterans. It was the younger generation of bull riders who were the night’s stars.
The event was won by Chase Outlaw, 19, of Hamburg, Ark., who was the only rider to ride bulls in both rounds.
Thirty-nine riders first competed in the long round, and then the top 10 were brought back for the short round. Out of the 39 entrants, only 19 rode their bulls.
Eight of the top 10 riders to come back are fairly new to the circuit. The event was a Touring pro Division event.
Outlaw scored a 87.5 in the first round, and held the top spot headed into the short round. He then scored a 75 in the short round. He took home a check for $4,253.40.
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Veteran rider Matt Bohon, Cole Camp, Mo., rode into a second place finish with a score of 87. In third place was another young rider Tanner Byrne from Prince Albert, SK. He scored a 86.5.
Four riders tied for fourth place including 19-year-old Chad VanAmburg of Archdale, N.C., veteran rider Dustin Elliott of North Platte, Neb., Jason Malone of Pleasonton, Texas, and Markus Mariluch of Elko, Nev., who all scored 86 points.
Elliot is a past World Champion, and has been in professional rodeo since 2000. He got on his first bull when he was just a freshman in high school. Elliot attended college at Chadron State College where he earned a degree in Health, Physical Education and Recreation.
2004 was the golden year for Elliott, when he won his first world title. It was also the first year that he qualified for the National Finals Rodeo. He won round five that year with a score of 89.5 on the bull Rafter G Rodeo’s Dippin Durango. That year, he won a total of $193,779.
According to the PBR, in 2011, Elliott finished 18th, and out of 80 outs he had 30 rides. He took home $91,250.85 in 2011.
PBR events are not just about the riders, however. These events take a lot of planning and preparation, and V Lazy S Bull Riding Productions put on the event in Kearney. The company is run by Mark and Kelly Ward, and is based out of North Platte, Neb.
“The event was very successful. We produce a handful of PBR events each year, and this is probably our best one. What makes this event so good is that we are from Nebraska, and a lot of people from Nebraska help with it,” said Ward.
The event was first put on in 1999, and since that time has continued to grow. “We had a sell-out crowd, and an awesome turnout. We have had a lot of support from sponsors, and the local sponsors make it great. I never would have dreamed it could be this big. It has turned into quite a deal,” he said.
It takes a lot of planning to put on the event, from finding sponsors to finding rough stock. Ward feels that there are a couple of key elements that bring in the best bull riders.
“For the riders, part of it has to do with how much money they are competing for. Part of it is just being PBR sanctioned, and part of it has to do with rider trust. You will get good cowboys if they know they are going to be matched up with good stock. They know that when they get to an event, they may not know all of the livestock, but they know they will have good stock that they can win on,” Ward said.
When Ward and his partners, Josh Call and Jeff Schlender look for stock, they are looking for the best. There was a total of 50 bulls at the event, and each one was selected because of it’s ability.
“We try to have livestock where everyone has a chance to win, no matter what bull they have. This year we had bulls from Texas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, North Dakota and Nebraska. We go to a stock contractor who may have 50 bulls, and ask them to bring their best five. We were looking for the very best, and that’s what the good riders are looking for,” he said.
Ward raises bulls, and had bulls at the event as well. A past bull rider, he has found joy in raising the next generation of quality bucking bulls. “As I grew out of riding, I found there is just something special about raising a calf. It’s amazing to see that calf born like you would anything else, and you get to take that calf from birth to competing on television. That is really something,” Ward said.
He enjoys producing bulls just for the PBR. He said, “The riders want to compete on the very best bull riders in the world. Without a doubt, they are in the PBR. If cowboys get bucked off, I want it at a PBR event.”
The high quality bulls brought in high quality, top 45 riders. Riders not in the top seven included Josh Koschel of Greeley, Colo., Cord McCoy of Tupelo, Okla., former World Champion Kody Lostroh of Longmont, Colo., Zack Brown of Santa Fe, Texas, Jordan Hupp of Cheyenne, Wyo., Josh Faircloth of Randleman, N.C., Brendon Clark of Morpeth, Australia, Harve Stewart of Stephenville, Texas, Pistol Robinson of Burleson, Texas, Dusty LaBeth of Archie, Kan., Dusty Ephrom of Arcola, Canada and Travis Briscoe of Edgewood, N.M.