Rodeo insider: Elite bull riders return to action this week

08/12/2014 10:53 AM

08/12/2014 10:53 AM

The Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough Series resumes this week after a three month hiatus.

The Express Employment Professionals Classic is scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Saturday at Tulsa’s BOK Center. The Oklahoma tour stop will be broadcast at 9 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday on the CBS Sports Network.

As the world’s top bull riding tour heads into the final stretch of the regular season, the title race remains close. Brazilian Guilherme Marchi, the 2008 world champion, is ranked No. 1 with 7,257.81 points, only 296.94 ahead of Fabiano Vieira.

Mike Lee, the 2004 world champion from Decatur, is within striking distance. He is ranked No. 5 with 6,253.31.

The tour will also stop in Thackerville, Okla., on Aug. 29-30 for the WinStar World Casino and Resort Invitational. The PBR’s 21st World Finals is scheduled for Oct. 22-26 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

The PBR also features a World Champion Bull title race. One of the top contenders is Bushwacker, who won the title in 2011 and 2013.

Bushwacker, who will be retired at the 2014 World Finals, has been on a publicized farewell tour this season. He is scheduled to appear Saturday in Tulsa.

Into the hall

Byron Walker, the 1981 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world steer wrestling champion, was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame on Saturday in Colorado Springs, Colo.

After the ceremony, the 16-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Ennis told prorodeo.com that he had anxiety about delivering his acceptance speech.

“I’m thankful to get up and give this speech and not be dead,” said Walker, 56, with a chuckle. “Waiting all this time [since the April 1 announcement] before going into the Hall of Fame was kind of like waiting to go into the principal’s office. I knew it was happening, and I was anxious to get it over with.

“Being here has been really nice, and walking around the Hall you realize that this is real.”

Other former world champion cowboys who entered the hall were Pete Grubb, Wayne Herman and Glen O’Neill. Former world champion bronc Spring Fling and former world bullfighting champion Miles Hare were also part of this year’s class.

The organizing committees from the Clovis (Calif.) Rodeo, the Greeley (Colo.) Stampede, the Rowell Ranch Rodeo in Hayward, Calif., and the Snake River Stampede in Nampa, Idaho, were also inducted.

A special night

The late Dale “Tuffy” Cooper, a long-time pro roper and the father of eight-time world champion Roy Cooper, was honored Thursday at the Lea County Fair and PRCA Rodeo in Lovington, N.M.

Tuffy Cooper died in November at age 88 at his home in Monument, N.M., which is near Lovington.

On the same night, Tuffy Cooper’s grandson, Tuf Cooper of Decatur, took the lead in tie-down roping at the Lovington rodeo with a two-run time of 16.2 seconds.

When the event concluded Saturday, Tuf Cooper, a two-time world champion, won the average with the 16.2.

Tuf Cooper is ranked No. 1 in the PRCA’s 2014 tie-down roping world title race with $115,590, more than $25,000 ahead of No. 2 ranked Matt Shiozawa.

Brazile watch

As he attempts to earn a record 12th world all-around title, Trevor Brazile of Decatur pocketed $15,099 last weekend after placing at Lovington and four other PRCA shows.

Brazile is ranked No. 1 in the 2014 world race with $195,175. Cooper is No. with $122,502.

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