Clovis News

Texan's bull ride victorious at Clovis Rodeo

Douglas Duncan can start building now.

The 22-year-old from Burnet, Texas, stayed on Original Prankster the full 8 seconds and won Thursday's Professional Bull Riders competition on opening night of the Clovis Rodeo.

Duncan pocketed $7,133 for his first victory this year in the PBR's touring pro division.

"I want to build a house this year," he said, "and this is a good start."

Duncan was one of only two riders in the final group of 10 to stay on his bull. He was the last one up and scored 87 to match his qualifying ride. Mark Lopes of Oakdale placed second with 82.5 points.

"There was no pressure. I treat all the rides the same," Duncan said. "It was easy and fun. I had good bulls."

Celebrity Cord McCoy, a contestant with his brother Jet on the reality TV show "The Amazing Race," missed the final. He suffered the indignity of getting bucked off by Little Brother right out of the chute, then taking two butts with a horn to his backside as he tried to scamper out of the way.

Fresnan Josh Verburg, the only local rider, came within a wink of making the final round. He stayed on No Glory for 7.7 of the needed 8 seconds and was eliminated in qualifying.

A field of 40 riders started the night competing for $26,000 in prize money. The touring pro level is comparable to baseball's Triple-A, one rung below the majors. After every five events, the top five money winners are promoted to the Ford Built Tough PBR and the bottom five from that main series are knocked down to the lower division.

But unlike baseball, the burden for advancement falls squarely on the bull rider's shoulders.

"You don't wait for a coach to move you up. It's your ride that controls that," said Duncan, who tied Stormy Wing of Dalhart, Texas, for the top qualifying score. "My parents put me on a sheep to ride when I was 3 and I've never stopped. It's an adrenaline rush and the only thing I'm good at."

Rider A.J. Hamre of Chico said it's a tough life, one cowboys are used to and wouldn't trade.

"We're independent, strong and self-willed," he said. "In this sport, you earn your way and have nobody to blame but yourself."

The PBR tour runs year-round. Bull riders live out of suitcases and duffel bags. They travel to different cities each weekend and must pay their own way.

Hamre is a dispatcher for his family's trucking business. He was on his cell phone Thursday directing some of his truck drivers as he pulled into the Clovis Rodeo lot.

Some win enough money to compete in both the main and touring pro series. Those at the lower level say they struggle to make ends meet and usually work during the week to survive.

"It's nerve-racking," Australian rider Matt Ladhims said. "So many ups and downs."

Verburg returns

Verburg has been competing in smaller rodeos but wants to get back on the PBR tour.

"It's every bull rider's dream," he said. "I'm done with school, so hopefully things turn around for me."

The 26-year-old's last big win came in the college regionals while competing for Cal Poly. He finished third at Clovis in 2007, a year after he was hit in the mouth by a bull that knocked his jaw into his cheekbone. It took four metal plates and 24 screws to hold his face together. Six months later, he was back on the bulls.

"Lately, I haven't had much luck," he said. "I've got a bad hip. But a buddy talked me into entering here."

Scary moment

Bobby Roberts of Oakdale finished his 8-second ride successfully, then was bucked off, caught by bull Kingpin's horns and whipped hard to the ground. Roberts stayed flat on his back for several minutes, but was helped up and walked out of the arena to a big ovation from the fans.