An assortment of bull riders gathered at the SHSU Agricultural Complex’s indoor arena Tuesday night to take part in the second annual Fear is a Factor Bull Riding. The event, held by the SHSU Rodeo Team and sponsored by Hillcrest Ford Dealership, put man against beast in a duel to see who would prevail after eight seconds. All of the riders were students at SHSU and most of them had never ridden a bull before.
“We had a sign-up in the mall area for about four days,” SHSU Rodeo Team Advisor Roger Hanagriff said. “We originally had about 40 sign up but in the end, only 18 paid the entry fee on time.”
This was only the second time the team held the event, yet the success was evident in the crowd cheering the riders on. Admission was $25 for riders and $5 for those who preferred to watch from the sidelines. All proceeds went to the SHSU Rodeo Team’s scholarship fund.
“We had about 600 people turn out which about doubled last year,” Hanagriff said. “We didn’t have anybody get hurt and of course that’s always good!”
There were many die-hard rodeo fans as well as students just looking for a good time amongst the attendees. Parked cars lined the entrance to the arena and spilled into the field beside it.
“I love the rodeo, and it was something to do,” sophomore Aaron Hayes said. “I was really impressed with the arena and with the turnout.”
The festivities began with a free concert by Chely Wright, the recording artist from Kansas best known for her hit singles, “Single White Female” and “Shut Up and Drive.” The SHSU Agricultural Alumni Association provided free sausage-on-a-stick and sodas for those in attendance to enjoy.
“I think it’s neat how the school would sponsor something like this,” sophomore Claire Williams said. “It’s a lot of fun for the students.”
As soon as the concert was over, the crowd lined the corral to witness the bull riding as the riders were introduced one by one. Veteran riders were brought in to help the rookies learn the ropes and hopefully increase their chances of staying on their bull longer.
“We had four of our team guys teach the riders how to ride for about two hours before the rodeo started,” Hanagriff said.
All of the bulls were provided by SHSU rodeo team member Zach Bracewell and his family, who breed bucking bulls and often provide bulls for the team to practice with.
“Most of the bulls were young and haven’t really been trained yet,” Hanagriff said. “That’s why they didn’t fight and thankfully didn’t hurt any of the riders.”
The winner of the bull ride was Gabe Gonzales, who rode for a little over eight seconds for a score of 81.
“He was actually the first rider we’ve ever had stay on longer than eight seconds,” Hanagriff said.
The SHSU Rodeo Club, which began in 1950, is one of the oldest active clubs on campus. During it’s 56 years of existence, the club has produced many individual champions and has had more national championship teams than any other club in the nation. They compete in about 10 rodeos throughout the year, including one in Huntsville each fall.