Harris sets record to win bull riding
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – When J.W. Harris was offered a re-ride after his short-round ride, he didn’t hesitate to accept.
“It wasn’t a difficult decision at all,” Harris said. “I couldn’t do any worse than second anyway. I wanted to get on that bull (Werewolf).”
Harris scored a Reno Livestock Events Center arena record of 96 points on his re-ride to win the Xtreme Bulls Hard to Ride Tour event Thursday night. Harris earned $17,258 for his efforts, his highest payday ever.
Harris, who had a 92.50 on his first ride aboard Four Aces, finished with a two-ride total of 186.50. Sonny Murphy, who sometimes travels with Harris, was second at 179 following a 94-point ride in the short round. Cody Hancock, a former world champion, was third with an 88 after posting a no-score on his short-round ride.
Harris and Murphy were the only riders to complete their short-round ride.
Harris called this the biggest moment in his young career. Earlier this year, he won one round and finished fourth in the second round at the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo. He tied for the semifinal title at the Xtreme Tour stop in San Antonio.
“I’d seen him (Werewolf) two or three times,” Harris said. “He’s an old bull. Everybody knows about him and knows what he can do. My first-round score was my highest. This kind of blew that out of the water.”
It was ironic that Harris drew Four Aces for his first ride given the fact that he was in Reno, and it wasn’t until late in the ride that he felt he would put up a good number.
“I’d heard (Four Aces) was really good or kind of bad,” Harris said. “Tate (Stratton) had the bull last year. He told me that he jumped out and took off running.
“It wasn’t until the 5 or 6-second mark that I knew I was going to have a good ride. He kept trying to pull me to his outside shoulder. I had to make some big moves to stay on there.”
Harris, who came to the rodeo with Murphy, was disappointed for his friend.
“I was rooting for him more than myself,” Harris said. “He had that bull at Pocatello, and I knew that Sonny would ride him (well).”
Harris said he planned on going home for a few days to compete in some local rodeos. He’ll be back next Thursday to compete in bull riding.
It was a disappointing finish for Hancock, who put up an impressive 88 in the first round, and held that lead until Harris’ 92.
“He bucked me off before this last year,” Hancock said. “He’s young. I didn’t know what to expect today (from him).”
Hancock had a good short-round ride going until getting thrown off at about the 6-second mark.
“That’s a bull you can score 88 or 90 on,” said Hancock of his second bull. “It’s a good bull. He dips down and pulls you in there (the well) . That’s the way it goes.”
This was an event dominated by some of the riders who aren’t in the top five on the 2006 money list.
Matt Austin, who won the world championship last season when he earned a record $320,766 and is the leading money winner this year with $34,739, suffered ligament damage in his wrist earlier this month in New Mexico.
Austin told XtremeBulls.com as late as June 13 that he was coming to Reno despite the injury.
Austin told the Website that he may have cracked his wrist, but that X-rays were inconclusive. He sat out last week and wanted to come to Reno where he won more than $30,000 in three events.
Jarrod Ford, No. 2 on the money list, was bucked off quickly in the first round. Travis Sellers, who was granted a first-round re-ride, also went out in the opening round. Sellers is fourth on the money list.
Hancock scoffed at the notion that the competition opened up with Austin’s absence and Ford and Sellers making first-round exits.
“You have 40 of the best bull riders in the world here,” he said. “You have 40 guys that can beat you on any given day.”
Notes: Only 14 riders completed rides in the first round. The only two not to advance were Chad Eubanks and Chad Besplug, who scored 80.50 apiece … Another big name that made an early exit was Dustin Elliott, who had a successful rodeo in Reno last year.