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|Bull riders find arena floor hard|
In what may be the roughest sport ever devised by man, three Northeast Louisiana Rodeo Club members are currently in contention for a possible trip to the national finals in Springfield, Ill. in July. The first thing the high school rodeo participants have to do, though, is get by the state finals which are coming up soon.
Shane Hood of Ruston, Regan Avery of West Ouachita and Corbin Carpenter of Jonesville are the trio from the club who are bull riders in the Louisiana State High School Rodeo Association.
A lot of bull riding involves a lot of luck.
"It is quite a thrill," Hood said in a telephone interview Friday. "I haven't been hurt an awful lot. Luck does play a large part in it. I just try to keep my head clear when I'm on a bull. It's just me and that bull out there. If you start to worry, that's when you get hurt."
Hood said he had a real good freshman year and he is back where he should be for his junior year.
Hood will be a senior next year and that will be his final year in the state prep rodeo. He might go on to a college school who has rodeo. In this area, McNeese State in Lake Charles and Northwestern State in Natchitoches both have rodeo teams.
Hood does have a practice arena and a few bulls to ride on.
"About once a month they have bull riding and I do manage to get on a couple," Hood said. But that's about all the time his practice session allows. He is currently building his own arena but ithas not been completed yet. The top four places in each event qualify for the national finals.
A fourth bull rider, Ben Tannehill of West Monroe, is qualified to go to the state, but at this time is not in the running for the nationals trip.
Knowing the dangers when they mount a bull, these riders go after it for various reasons, but winning a state championship in bull riding is a rarity.
Hood and Carpenter are both in the best position to make nationals. Each rider has to stay on board for eight seconds, and sometimes this can be the trickiest part of the ride. A lot of times a rider will be off the bull and on the ground before he knows what has happened.
Hood is currently in fifth place and Carpenter is in fourth place.
Avery must pick up the pace at the state level in order to nab a spot for the finals.
Avery is currently standing in the eighth position.
he state rodeo begins in Gonzales on Friday, June 13 and it runs through June 22.
The first 33 performers in each event qualify for the state finals.
There is also a Wrangler, or junior high division, but this state rodeo has already been held at Sulphur.
Two of the three riders are home schooled.
The club itself usually has good participation at the state levels and members of the club regularly participate at the national level as well. In the past, there have been national titles won by club members.
The national rodeo has participants from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and several foreign countries as well, including Australia.
Prep rodeo events also include bareback bronc riding, saddle bronc riding, team roping, tie down calf roping, steer wrestling, pole bending and barrel racing. Other events include boys and girls cutting, which is separate from the regular rodeo performances and a queen's contest.
So just how rough a sport is bull riding?
Another bull rider a few years ago said it this way.
"Tell (West Monroe) coach Don Shows football wasn't rough enough."