Who cares about 100 degree temperatures when you've got bull riding and bull fighting coming to town for the annual Molalla Buckeroo Kickoff Party?
The heat and the action turned up Saturday night as bull riders and bull fighters from around the country made their way to Molalla for the sixth stop of the Coastal Farm and Ranch Challenge of Champions Tour.
While the event's logo, which touts a cowboy facing off against a bull, normally involves traditional bull riding, a new event was added this year: freestyle bullfighting.
The Protect the Harvest Freestyle Bullfighting event features some of the best rodeo clowns around. And while their official job is to protect the bull riders from taking an extra lick from the bull after his or her run has ended, the new freestyle event puts the bull and the bull fighter into a special ring for a one-on-one faceoff, where they'll taunt and perform special tricks and maneuvers to avoid the bull for 40 seconds.
"We've added [bull fighting] to our tour this year, and last year the Molalla Buckeroo said 'If you guys are adding that to your deal, we want to make our event just as a great,' so they're willing to grow with us," said Jason Mattox, president and promotor of the tour.
"So we added that to our tour this year and I think Saturday night was a hit … the bulls fought well and the guys did great, they put on a great show and I think the crowd was really entertained. It's an up-and-coming new sport and it's really taken off. I know next year they're looking at adding more bull fighters to us to do a bigger freestyle event."
During Saturday's bull fighting, the athletes all took one-two-three as Jack Crenshaw, Jr., the first bull fighter to take on a bull, from Castle Rock, Washington state, took home the top score as he managed to put on the best show, earning him 85 points from the judges. Crenshaw also took first in Albany earlier this year as he scored just one point better there.
16-year-old superstar Miles Barry of Kennewick, Washington state entered the ring next and took second with 84 points as his show was just not enough to impress the judges past the point of Crenshaw's performance. Barry also took first in Hermiston with another score of 84, and first in Prineville with 82 points.
Canby's own Jason McCall was the third and final athlete to take on a bull, and though his performance was perhaps the most crowd-rousing (he went for a ride in the air after leaping over the barrel), it didn't earn him enough points to overtake either of the other two competitors as he scored a 78 for third place. McCall took second in Albany with 81.5 points.
In the bull riding, Montana Barlow, sporting the same name as him home state, took first place with 85 points as he was one of just a few athletes to stay on his bull for the full eight-second ride.
Jake Davis held the top score for a few minutes with 81.5 points before Barlow's 85-point ride, pushing him to second before Wyatt Convington came in and scored 83 points to push Davis down into third. Dawson Branton and Cole Allen rounded out the top five athletes with scores of 75 and 64, respectively.
Local athletes Jake Suratt from Molalla and Jonathan Anca from Mulino were unable to achieve a score as they couldn't stay on their bulls for the full eight seconds, but Elsie Anca, who took first in the mini bulls in Albany, did manage to as she finished behind Roehre Cunningham, Jr. who took first in the mini bulls. Cunningham also took first in Roseburg.
Mattox said he loves having the opportunity to be able to kick off the Molalla Buckeroo.
"It's our second year [in Molalla] and it's slowly growing, it's taken us a while to grow the event and the Molalla Buckeroo Association has been awesome … we're just grateful for having the opportunity to be able to kick off a great Fourth of July rodeo like that one," Mattox said.
"Our tour goes all over Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, and that's one of the tour stops the guys really look forward to coming to," Mattox said. "It's a privilege to ride at the Molalla Buckeroo for these guys, a lot of them don't get to ride in the rodeo because they don't qualify, and some of them are fighting to get there so it's exciting that they got to be in that arena."
Mattox acknowledged the extreme heat the graced the area over the weekend and thanked the crowd for coming out despite the temperatures.
"We can't say thank you enough to the crowd that came out and bared the heat and also to the Molalla Buckeroo for having us another year and we look forward to next year."
Sports Reporter/News Contributor
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