Clovis News: Sports

Bulls rock Clovis Rodeo

For most people, 8 seconds doesn't take long to fly by.

It's about the time needed to pour a glass of milk, tie your shoes, dust off the TV screen or tweet on Twitter.

But that fleeting amount of time was relative through the eyes of the riders at the Professional Bull Riding Challenger Tour event Thursday before an estimated crowd of 5,500 at the Clovis Rodeo.

Cowboys have 8 seconds to stay aboard for an official time while strapped to a snarling, 1,600-pound, neck-snapping, horned animal.

"These bulls are bigger than any MMA fighter," rider Corey Rasch said of four-legged behemoths that had names such as Evil, Savage Nation, Tombstone, Butcher Boy and Death Row. "I don't think any of those guys can throw you around as much. I know they can't hit you as hard."

Cody Nance of Paris, Tenn., was the lone competitor out of 42 to make two successful rides and captured first place and the $12,000 prize. And it couldn't have come at a better time.

"I had $200 left in my bank account," said Nance, No. 20 on the Challenger money list. "It was time to screw my head down and get something done."

Nance stayed atop Big Boss with the sixth-best qualifying score. His ride on Mental Man in the finals -- the only cowboy who scored -- nailed down his first victory of the season.

"I was feeling good and blessed," he said. "I've been riding good this year. I just went out there and did my job."

Elliot Jacoby of Fredricksburg, Texas, was first in qualifying but finished second. Bryan Richardson of McKinney, Texas, was third. Two former PBR world champions, Ednei Caminhaus and Mike Lee, placed fifth and ninth.

There's a reason bull riding is called the most dangerous 8 seconds in sports. It's a chiropractor's dream. Mere mortals are bucked violently and their bodies twisted into pretzel shapes as they hang on for dear life until the buzzer sounds.

"They've got a mind of their own," rider Harve Stewart said. "You can't guarantee how they'll ride."

Cowboys wear boots, leather gloves, safety vests, chaps and sometimes helmets, but injuries are common, especially to wrists, knees and heads.

"The object is to stay on, but you're at the mercy of the moment," said Chad Denton, one of three California riders in the field.

That first buck out of the gate is an adrenaline rush, said Evan Rasch, Corey's younger brother.

"You hear about people doing miraculous things in dangerous situations," Evan said. "That's the way it is every time. Fear is there, but you have to turn it into a positive and rise to the occasion."

Riders on the tour can make as much as $80,000 per year. Those among the top five every five weeks move up to the regular PBR tour, where purses and television exposure are greater.

It can be a tough, demanding life and Lee, one of the more recognizable names in Thursday's draw, is well versed in the ups and downs. Lee won the 2004 PBR world championship, but he's also eaten his share of dirt.

"When you're hung up on a bull, the ride can feel like an eternity," he said. "But there's no greater feeling on a good ride. It's just you and the bull."

Related stories from Fresno Bee

  Comments