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Published June 11, 2018
Even though Jacob Smith had no prior intel on his bull, it was no problem.
Smith, the University of Wyoming bull rider, marked 69.5 points on his first bull at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) at the Casper Events Center Sunday afternoon. His ride puts him seventh overall after the first round.
It was not a spectacular bull, and it was not Smith’s best ride, but he’s on the scoreboard with two rounds to go this week for the LaSalle, Colo., senior who just graduated last month.
“I was pleased with the score. It was good to get a score on the board,” Smith said near the bucking chutes. “He wasn’t too spectacular, but I’m on the board.”
And that’s important to him, because he was riding a bull he’d never seen.
He drew “Red Robin” during the second session of “Broncs, Bulls and Breakaway,” an event that is just for all roughstock competitors and breakaway ropers.
“I didn’t know anything about him; I never even heard of him, and I didn’t feel like looking him up. But I know that Frontier Stock Company has a good pen of bulls, so, I was excited to draw him,” Smith said. He is making his second appearance at the CNFR.
Smith, who won the regional bull riding title for the second time in three seasons this past year, is trying to reach Saturday’s short go. If he gets at least one more good score in the final two rounds, he has a good shot of making the finals, which attracts the top 12 competitors in each event. Each contestant is guaranteed three rounds throughout the week.
Smith says some bull riders like to know about a bull and its tendencies to buck or shift directions on a dime. That way, they can draw up a game plan on how to ride the animal. But the UW Poke says he likes the unknown much better.
“I just try to ride him jump for jump instead of trying to come up with a game plan for how I’m going to ride him,” he said. “I just try to trust myself to ride like I know I can and just go with the flow wherever he goes.”
With just 8 seconds to adjust on the fly, Smith said “Red Robin” came out with a right-hand delivery, which tipped him to the right side of the bull. The bull shifted again to the left and started to “flat spin.” That slowed down the bull’s momentum, and Smith managed to right himself to the middle of the bull, where he rode him out to the 8-second buzzer.
UW interim rodeo Coach Lydia Coe was pleased with Smith’s effort; he was the only UW team member to compete Sunday.
“He stayed solid; the bull wasn’t a whole lot to work with. Especially right there at the end, he got a little dead,” she said. “It was really a good job of Jacob to stay focused and stay disciplined all the way through the ride, because those bulls are really hard to stay on.”
Smith and three of his UW teammates will compete in Monday’s first session of slack. Set to compete are team ropers Justene Hirsig, of Cheyenne, and partner Denton Shaw, from Lusk; and Interior, S.D., barrel racer Kelsey Lensegrav.