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Bull Rider Qualifies for National Finals
The Huntsville Item
Bryan Richardson knows he'll be nervous. It would impossible to be anything but a little edgy.
On Friday night, the 21-year-old cowboy who now calls Huntsville home will be on top of one of the rankest bulls around. When the gate swings open, Richardson will be riding that heavy beast in front of a raucous and rowdy crowd. He'll be competing against the world's top riders, with television cameras focused on his every move.
That's the routine at the National Finals Rodeo, the Super Bowl of pro rodeo where the top 15 cowboys and cowgirls compete against each other -- and the nation's top livestock -- for big bucks at the end of a long rodeo season.
Making it to the NFR is the goal of every cowboy and cowgirl. Richardson has set another goal. He wants to win at the NFR.
"I hope I can win first. I want to win the average and I want to win the world championship," he said Wednesday in a phone interview from Las Vegas. "That would be the ultimate goal."
Richardson is a student at Sam Houston State. He sat out this fall in order to give the pro rodeo circuit his undivided attention. Once, he tried the double-duty thing. That did not work out very well.
"I thought my teachers would cut me some slack," he said. "That didn't happen. Next semester, I think I'm gonna take some correspondence classes."
In his third season on the pro rodeo circuit, Richardson barely made it to the NFR. He earned his spot in the 10-day rodeo the hard way. Early last month in San Francisco, Richardson won the bull riding event and earned enough money to leap into the top 15 in the money standings.
San Francisco was the last event on the regular-season calendar, and Richardson knew he was under the gun.
"I was $8,000 out of the 15th spot," he said, mentioning the magic number of competitors who qualify for the NFR. "I bucked off in Kansas City, so I had to win in San Francisco."
That's exactly what Richardson did. He rode a "little, young bull" to a 91 score in the long round, then he earned an 89 and won the short round. The $11,000 he pocketed in San Francisco boosted him to the 12th spot in the bull-riding money standings. Richardson has earned $61,638 this year.
He's in Las Vegas, ready to compete in the National Finals for the first time. And he's pumped.
"I couldn't be any more excited," Richardson said. "I'm trying just not to think about it. I'm just havin' fun.
"I got here last night and played a little black jack. The rodeo starts Friday night and lasts for 10 days. We ride every single night."
That's something a little different for Richardson. He rides three or four nights in a row during the summer months.
"I've never been on 10 bulls in 10 days," he said. "The only difference will be soreness. But after the first couple bulls, everything will be all right."
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