Bulls, blood, dust, mud and the roar of a Saturday night crowd heralded the sport that the Western United States knows as rodeo this past weekend with the 61st annual Skyline Stampede at the B. W. Pickett Equine Center on Overland Trail.
Denim, plaid and 10-gallon hats filled the crowd and the arena as the CSU team competed against 14 schools from around the nation in events like steer wrestling, team roping, bareback and saddled broncos, barrel racing and bull riding.
“You can’t hardly hear yourself think,” said freshman animal science major Conner Sell, of what it’s like to be out in the arena. Sell rides saddlebroncs and bulls in the rodeos and has been since high school. “It’s like driving 130 miles per hour down the interstate. You’re just going.”
Sell rode five to six seconds on his bronco before he caught his stirrup and was bucked off, and he lasted for five seconds on the bull.
“It’s not my personal best,” he said, “but there’s always another rodeo.”
Duncan Cornell, a civil engineering major, is one of the senior bull riders on the team and is classified by his fellow riders as the resident “badass.” He participated in the weekend’s events and took first place in the bull riding competition.
Tyler Kimmel, a senior agricultural business major, also won, placing first in the calf-roping event.
With roughly 40 members, CSU Rodeo is the university’s largest club team, and, because they are club, they had to put the entire event on by themselves.
Fellow bull rider Trent Cole, a freshman civil engineering major, did not participate in the Skyline, but instead worked on the gated sidelines to tame and un-tack the horses and bulls after they came fresh from the ring.
“It’s pretty intense,” he said, grinning. “I been stepped on by a few horses, gotten some rope burns.”
But, he said, that’s nothing compared to actually riding the bucking animals. “It’s scary. You gotta have balls. People respect you a bit more when they know you’re out there.”
The bronco horses are some of the largest in the event, and that’s for a reason, Cole said. They have to be big and strong to endure the effort of the event.
The animals are made to buck by tying a flank strap –– a length of padded rope –– around their girth to entice them to kick. Bulls and horses are notoriously ticklish around the flank area, and from the weekend’s proceedings, the trick has been finessed to make for a good sport.
“They’ve got bloodlines just like racing horses,” Cornell said. “They’re bred specifically for this.”
CSU’s rodeo team is the oldest collegiate team in the U.S., and the Skyline Stampede is also the oldest collegiate rodeo. Senior team member Amanda Bodkin, an equine science major, said she had the privilege to attend a reunion of CSU’s 1954 rodeo team, and, she added, “they’re still as feisty as ever.”
Staff writer Sara Michael can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.