Trey Benton III turned in a lofty final round score of 92.5 and won the Tuff Hedeman Championship Challenge on Saturday night at Cowtown Coliseum.
In the finals, Benton, a two-time qualifier to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, conquered a rapid-fire spinning bull named Gold Buckle.
Benton, who lives in Rock Island, earned $20,750 and a Luskey’s/Ryon’s trophy saddle that’s traditionally given to the Hedeman champion.
The event began with a field of 28 riders who are competing on the Championship Bull Riding tour. The final round featured four bull riders and no previous scores counted.
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Sage Kimzey, Jarrod Craig, Ardie Maier and Benton were the finalists. When the title was at stake, Kimzey, Craig and Maier were bucked off. But Benton, who was the last rider of the night, turned in the 92.5.
“I was just trying to stay on,” Benton said. “I didn’t know what my score was going to be. It just worked out.”
Benton said it was meaningful to win the Hedeman title because he competed in the junior steer riding at the famous Fort Worth show when he was 12. Hedeman, a four-time world champion, praised Benton for making an attention-grabbing ride to win the 2014 title.
“He made a great ride,” Hedeman said. “He was disappointed when he didn’t win this event last year when he had a chance. So, revenge is sweet.”
The inaugural Hedeman bull riding was at Cowtown Coliseum in 1993. Hedeman’s traveling partner, former NFR qualifier Cody Lambert, won the 1993 title. In its early years, the Hedeman event was a stop on the Professional Bull Riders tour. In recent years, it has become a stop on the Championship Bull Riding tour.
Hedeman, who lives in Morgan Mill, earned four gold bull riding buckles during his heyday in the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s. Hedeman won PRCA world titles in 1986, 1989 and 1991. He also clinched the PBR title in 1995.
He is among 20 cowboys who met in a Scottsdale, Ariz., hotel room and each put up $1,000 and founded the PBR. Hedeman served as the PBR’s first president. Today, he leads the CBR.
At the microphone
Don Gay, who earned a record eight Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world bull riding titles, served as a co-announcer for the Hedeman event.