Purple power exploded at Weber Arena.
Six bucking chutes gleamed in Kansas State University colors, there were notable tinges of purple in the large crowd as the lights went out, the country-rock music intensified, smoke rolled, the Manhattan High School Drum Corps gave a drum-roll, and the Championship Bull Riding was underway
With his deep-cowboy-voice, announcer Scott Fry introduced dignitaries including Championship Bull Riding Contractor of the Year Brad Vogele and KSU Animal Science Department Head Ken Odde.
From no less than 14 states and as far away as France, 35 bull riding contestants were recognized in appropriate-acknowledgement as they were applauded onto the still-darkened arena tanbark.
A heart-throbbing rendition of the national anthem was presented by K-State Rodeo Club Advisor Beth McQuad as Rodeo Queen Brande Iseman mounted on her beautiful gray Quarter Horse galloped into the spotlight bearing Ole Glory.
As house-lights switched on, the first purple chute gate opened, and bull riding was underway as a cowboy flew into the air from his mount, and bulls were in command.
Those keeping score admitted the bulls were the winners numbers-wise, but cowboys “did their part quite well,” considering depth of quality in their competitors.
While the action, produced by Vogele, was fast and colorful, funnyman Dustin Jenkins kept spectators even more on the edge of the bleachers with his sporadic antics.
Bull fighters Jonathan Osten and Broc McGuire endured several close-escapades as they protected every fallen cowboy from the long-horned, massive and quite cantankerous, colorfully-mottled bovine beasts furnished by Vogele and four other contractors.
It’s essential not to overlook the diligent work of ranchers Josh Lilley and Reid Green, who penned bulls after their bucking exploits. That wasn’t an easy task as a number of the near-ton fighters had to be lassoed and horse-powered back into where they belonged.
After the chute gates had opened 35 times, ten cowboys had qualifying scores high enough to compete in the championship round.
There was a tie for the highest marked ride of 85 points between Kyle Sherwood of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, who drew the bull called Tee Ought Three of the Vogele string, and Nick Dupuis of Fowler who qualified on Pay U Later.
Robson Arago of Brazil, Dustin Hall, Springfield, Missouri, and Riggin Phillips, McKinney, Texas, had matching scores of 84.5 points.
In the short-go, only three cowboys rode their bulls to the 8-second buzzer for qualifying rides to move up as average winners.
Dustin Hall had 177.5 points, after marking the night’s record 93 points on the bull called “Wilson,” to be the champion.
Riggin Phillips placed second, scoring 172 points, and Cooper Kanngieser, Zenda, who was eighth in the long-go, came in third with170 points.
Analyzing the bull riding, three-term K-State Rodeo Club President Julia Kaufman concluded, “It was really a cool competition. Everybody, even the bulls, had a great time. What a cool response to our first Championship Bull Riding.”
Likewise, KSU Rodeo Team Coach Doug Muller recognized, “This was the perfect way to kickoff this year’s rodeo activities at K-State. Now, we’re putting all of our efforts into making sure the K-State Rodeo is the best ever.
“We are expecting more than 600 contestants from 23 colleges in the Central Plains Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association for the four performances, February 17-18-19, also at Weber Arena,” Muller said.
Already activities for that Western-action are underway with Dell Hall of Rafter H Rodeo Livestock Company, a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-contractor from Tahlequah, Oklahoma, to supply the rodeo livestock.
“We have been in the contracting business for more than a half century, and majority of that time in the PRCA, but we furnish stock for several college rodeos annually. We’re really happy to be contracting for K-State this year,” Hall said.
Raising the majority of his bucking horses and bulls, Hall has owned the top PRCA Saddle Bronc of the Year, and three times had the Bull of the Association, with several broncs and bulls always at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Hall wouldn’t reveal which livestock will be in the K-State Rodeo draw, but he admitted that it will include several head of National Finals quality livestock.
“You have to bring the best because these college cowboys are just as good as the professionals on the road making a living in rodeo,” Hall contended.
Performances are set for 7:30, Friday and Saturday evenings, with the Saturday afternoon long-go performance and the short-go matinee Sunday both beginning at 1 o’clock.
Always a highlight of the rodeo is the K-State Rodeo Queen Pageant coordinated this year by incumbent-Queen Iseman,
A special invitation was extended, by Kaufman, to all alumni of the K-State Rodeo Club to attend this year’s rodeo to see the new facilities being utilized by the club and team members.