Wickett a Norfolk, Neb., native finishes fourth in nation in bull riding at CNFR
Mid-Plains Community College bull rider Garrett Wickett has ended his college rodeo career fourth in the nation.
The Norfolk, Neb., native was No. 1 in the Great Plains Region heading into the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo. last week, but some rough luck in the first go-round threatened to take him out of the competition.
“I bucked off,” Wickett said. “When I came down, the bull planted one foot on my head and another on my lower back. It was a pretty rough day. Luckily, they had a great sports medicine team out there, and by Tuesday, when I rode my third bull, most of the pain was gone.”
Despite being sore, Wickett rode his second bull to a score of 74 points and secured a fifth place spot on the leaderboard.
He earned a score of 52 with his third bull, but because the flank strap fell off, was offered a re-ride. Wickett didn’t take it.
“The past couple of years, and now this year, too, the bull riding at the CNFR has been won on two head,” Wickett said. “I knew getting two bulls covered would get me to the short round.”
The theory worked, and because no one made a qualified ride in the short go, he was able to maintain his fourth place ranking.
“It feels pretty good,” Wickett said. “I didn’t come back No. 1, but given how my week started, getting stomped pretty hard and nearly knocked out, I’m happy with how things turned out. No matter the outcome, I was going to be happy with myself because my main goal was to do better than I had the year before.”
His coach was happy with him, too.
“Garrett didn’t have any luck at the finals last year, so he’s been working really hard since then,” said Dustin Elliott, MPCC Rodeo Team rough stock coach. “He set his sights on improving and making the short round. He obviously did that, and I’m proud of him for it.”
MPCC sent a total of nine qualifiers to nationals, and while Wickett was the only one to make the Top 12 in his event, Elliott believes the experience was good for all of them.
“The CNFR is a big stage, and a lot of those kids competing had never been exposed to that type of atmosphere,” Elliott said. “I do think we could have done better. We can always do better, but to have so many from our school qualify and to see them able to compete under that kind of pressure was a good thing.”
Some of them will have a chance to qualify for nationals again next year. As for Wickett, he’s done with college rodeo.
Wickett graduated from MPCC in May of 2017 with an associate of applied science degree. He then opted to stay another year and pursue a welding certification so that he could learn more about the professional side of bull riding from Elliott, who is a former world champion.
“I’ve already gone pro, but I now really want to focus on riding bulls full time and working my way up,” Wickett said. “I want to make it a career for as long as I possibly can.”