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Bulls win the night; Only 2 riders earned scores at J.W. Hart PBR Challenge

By Racey Burden | Published Wednesday, June 8, 2016
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Tough Spill

TOUGH SPILL – Rider Luke Bradley misses the 8-second mark Saturday night at the J.W. Hart PBR Challenge in Decatur. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

In three hours of bull riding Saturday night, only two men hung on for at least 8 seconds.

The night belonged to the bulls.

Quentin Vaught of Missouri walked away with the buckle and 80 points toward the PBR World Standings with the only scoring ride of the 13th annual J.W. Hart PBR Challenge. Vaught rode bull High Time for more than 8 seconds late in the first round, to the delight of a large crowd that had watched rider after rider take early tumbles.

Vaught fell fast in the championship round, but with no other riders scoring to challenge him, took home the win.

“It’s awesome,” Vaught said after claiming his belt buckle. “I wish I could have got that last bull rode. I’ll get him next time.”

Many of the riders likely walked away from the arena wishing for a next time, including three-time J.W. Hart Challenge champion and Decatur native Mike Lee, who missed qualifying for the championship round but walked out of the arena to some of the loudest applause of the night from the home crowd.

Up in the Air

UP IN THE AIR – Young Guns Champion Cooper Davis tries to stay on grand prize bull Air Time. Davis ultimately fell off after 2.58 seconds, missing the $50,000 prize. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“It’s been kind of nasty tonight,” event emcee Matt Merritt said after another rider bit the dust hard. “We’ve almost hurt a few people. Who’s here to cheer for the bulls?”

The cheers for the animals were weak, making the screams for the close rides all the louder. But after Vaught’s lone 8-second ride, it would be late into the night before another man scored.

The night’s finale, the Young Guns Challenge, brought five young riders, some from the top of the PBR World Standings, to take to the arena on bulls of their choice. Cooper Davis from Jasper, currently ranked No. 8, rode Who Dey for 88 points, the only score of the Young Guns Challenge. Davis took home $10,000.

In a night of wild bulls, Air Time was hyped up to be the biggest and baddest. The No. 1 bull in PBR’s Built Ford Tough series, Air Time held an average buck-off rate of 2.36 seconds, and the Young Guns winner would have the opportunity to take him on for $50,000.

Hard Hit

HARD HIT – Rider Travis Brisco of Edgewood, N.M., takes a tumble from his bull in the first round. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“He’s not unrideable,” Air Time’s stock contractor Matt Scharping said. “One of these guys just needs to have their best day, and he needs to maybe have an off day.”

Only one rider, 2010 World Champion Renato Nunes, had made it to 8 seconds on Air Time in 28 outs. Davis hoped to be the second.

Hang On

HANG ON – Robson Palermo of Brazil, the No. 14 ranked rider in the world, didn’t manage to make it to 8 seconds Saturday night. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

It wasn’t meant to be. Even in the chute, Air Time bucked and twisted, and when the gate opened the bull put Davis on the ground in 2.58 seconds, extending Air Time’s buckoff streak to 24.

Davis offered a tip of the proverbial hat to the bull that took him down so quickly.

“That’s one of the best bucking bulls in the world,” he said.

Out of the Fire

OUT OF THE FIRE – The riders of the night were introduced in the midst of a pyrotechnic display, with fire spelling out “PBR” at the end of the arena. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

CHARITIES BENEFIT FROM EVENT

WC Challenger Charities hosts the J.W. Hart PBR Challenge and has raised more than $800,000 for local charities through ticket sales in the last 12 years. WCCC co-founder Andrew Rottner said they will present this year’s checks to charities in late July or early August. “Overall we’re very pleased with [this year’s turnout],” Rottner said. “It was a good event, a good crowd.”

Homes for Heroes

HOMES FOR HEROES – Representatives from WC Challenger Charities and 1,000 Miles Till Home presented three veterans and their families with new homes in the middle of the arena Saturday night. Proceeds from ticket sales will go to similar local charities. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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