ELKO — Fans were treated to some thrills, a few spills and a lot of quality bucking-bull action.
On Saturday evening, the Gold Rush Challenge — presented by Benavides Bucking Bulls and in conjunction with the Western States Bucking Bull Association — showcased more than three dozen trips from the chutes across a variety of age divisions for the bucking stock at Elko County Fairgrounds.
In addition to the main event, the evening started with mutton busting for the youngsters and the next wave of cowboys was featured during the mini bull riding aboard the stock of Tobie Olson’s Miniature Rodeo Bulls, of Cascade, Idaho.
The big winner of the night was Andy Guzman, of Escalon, California, who pulled a pair of checks after boarding numerous bulls.
In the maturity division — consisting of bulls of 5-years-old or older — Guzman opened his outside leg on a bull spinning into his riding hand and spurred Hawkins Bucking Bulls’ and Arthur Saabye’s “Twisted X” for the highest-marked ride of the night for 86 points.
For his efforts, Guzman pocketed a belt buckle and a $1,940 check.
However, the trip proved profitable for Hawkins and Saaybe as well — Twisted X earning $1,050 for winning the maturity division with an even-better bull score of 86.5 points.
Guzman also split fifth and sixth place with a score of 76.5 points on the back of Hawkins’ “Stripper Tipper” in the 4-year-old classic division for another $235.
Altogether, Guzman tallied $2,175 for the two rides but could have added another more cash to his jeans.
As the top rider of the night, he earned the chance to climb down on the back of the Bounty Bull — Chainsaw — of Benavides Bucking Bulls.
If Guzman had ridden Chainsaw, he would have claimed another $800 — $500 of which was donated by Benavides Bucking Bulls, $200 from Leanne Benavides and $100 by Chuy Luna.
Guzman started a great ride and survived the daunting initial spins to the left into his hand, but Chainsaw continued to pick up steam — Guzman first losing hold with his feet and then with his hand — pulling the proverbial ripcord as his rider was shot out the back end.
Instead of Guzman taking home the $800, the money went to a great cause, the Caide Roberts Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Caide Roberts, the son of one of the WSBBA founding fathers — Tim Roberts — passed away in an automobile accident on July 1, 2020, near St. George, Utah.
“Thank you to all of our sponsors, fans and family. We’re shooting for Sept. 11 next year, going to be bigger and better,” said Efren Benavides Jr. “As much as I wanted Andy to ride and win the extra money, I’m still happy because the money is going to a great cause for a great friend.”
Tim Roberts with Mann Creek Bucking Bulls and Jimmy Young with Bovico Bucking Bulls were each presented with custom knives during the awards for all their hard work with the association over the years.
Behind Guzman, second place went to Riggin Vadnis — who scored 80.5 points on the back of 3-year-old bull “Good Karma” of Less Than 8 Cattle Co. — earning $1,360.
The third highest-marked ride of the night came following the conclusion of the maturity division, Shane Adams spurring Lex Peterson’s “Madman” — an extra bull — for 79 points and $900.
Following a string of seven buck-offs to start the evening, Austin Covington turned the tides and made the first qualified bull ride of the night — taking fourth place and $580 with a 77-point effort aboard Hawkins Bucking Bulls’ “That Look” in the 3-year old derby.
Tying Guzman’s second check, Sonny Murphy — a 2006 qualifier for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo — split fifth and sixth for $235 with a 76.5-point ride on Ted and Sis Coleman’s 4-year-old bull “Eugene.”
Hitman Bucking Bulls brought the rankest to the party in the 3-year-old derby, as “Ghost Dancer” put up a bull score of 85.5 points for $2,240.
Long Ranch’s “LR720” was in hot pursuit of the top score, notching a bull tally of 85.25 points worth $1,344.
Third place went to “72B,” the bull owned by Dees & Sharpe.
The bull “LR 653” took no prisoner, hammering his rider to the dirt and posting the highest-marked bull score of the night with a big total of 88.25 points for the largest check of the evening worth $2,625.
Myron Sharpe’s “Freckled Faced Kid” also threw in both speed and power for second place with a bull score of 87.25 points for $1,575.
KMH Bucking Bulls’ “Louisiana Lightning” is named accordingly — quickly flinging his rider with a lightning-quick turn to the left — posting 87 points for third place and $1,050.
Paying one money, Twisted X of Hawkins’ and Saabye’s, took Guzman to the top of leaderboard with a rider score of 86 points and a bull mark of 86.5 — Guzman earning $1,940 and the bull giving his owners $1,050 — the eight-second battle providing a total of $2,990 for rider and stock.
Prior to Saturday night’s action, the morning kicked off with a glimpse of what the future of bull riding has to offer — the next generation of buckers.
Shawn Proctor — a 2008 WNFR qualifier — can not only ride bulls, he produces them; taking the yearling championship with a score of 85.25 points by “Quasi” for $840.
Bovico Bucking Bulls’ “909” ranked second with an 84.75 for $560.
In the 2-year-old division, Less Than 8 Cattle Co.’s “Firestone” dropped a hot score of 87.75 points for first place and $1,785.
Dees’ & Sharpe’s “80B” tallied second place with an 86.5 for $1,071.
Less Than 8 Cattle Co. booked its second check of the division with a third-place mark of 86.25 points by “Magic Waters” for $714.
Women’s 2-Year-Old Futurity
Bull riding is not just for the men; women have a stake in the game as well — a contractor class of their own. In the women’s 2-year-old futurity, Less Than 8 Cattle Co. knocked down another title with a score of 83.5 points from “Parabellum” for $480.
First place in the junior futurity went to female contractor Blake Peterson, score unreported.
Mini Bull Riding
In the mini bull riding, three moneys were paid.
First place went to 15-year-old Jayden Herrera, who was never anywhere but in the middle of the back of “Cash” for 82 points.
Kobie Olson, 13, wound up in second place after a nice ride of his own — notching 80 points on “Rocky.”
Third place went to 12-year-old Ryker Layne for a 70-point ride all the way across the pen aboard a re-ride bull after “Dirty Deeds” tipped over in the chute.
Last but not least, the cowboys and cowgirls who started the performance — the winners of the mutton busting.
Leo Dailey-Reynolds was happy about his first-place ride of 78 points, followed in second place by a 77 from Weston O’Brien and a third-place 75 by Liam Eshelman.
GALLERY: Gold Rush Challenge Bull Riding
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