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Skeeter Kingsolver gets rolled by his bull. (Photo by EJ Harris)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

PENDLETON — The Happy Canyon Arena attendees poured applause down on Elliot Jacoby as he stood, covered in dust, in front of them. The Texan’s right arm was covered in cling-wrap, pinning it to his body with a massive bag of ice held against his shoulder.

His post-ride accessory made him look like a pitcher fresh off a grueling baseball start, icing his money-maker in preparation for the next game. But Jacoby’s broken collarbone presented a stark reminder that the cowboy is a different kind of boy of summer.

Jacoby rides bulls.

A score of 87 in the first flight of rides at the PGG Independence Day PBR Tour on Tuesday pocketed Jacoby just cents under $800, and even though the rider couldn’t perform in the short-go championship round, the score stood. The bull rider finished first on a night when only four bulls failed to toss their cargo.

Jacoby’s ride felt excellent, he added, right up until the dismount from a beast called Crooked River.

“It’s just the way things go I guess,” he said. “I did what I needed to do in the first round but just couldn’t get off real well ... He dropped me from left field to the ground like that.”

The banged-up bull rider watched the final flight from behind the chutes with nothing more than a prescription for pain killers to help him guard his lead. Second-place rider Dakota Beck of Moses Lake, Wash., put up an 85 in the first performance but he was one of only three competing to place in the short-go.

When Shawn Best II of Omak, Wash., and Markus Mariluch of Elko, Nev., both failed to reach eight seconds in their final rides, Beck knew he was just a score, any score, from taking Tuesday’s top check.

“I knew that I still had one more and had to just keep going,” Beck said. “Being the last guy out, it always puts more pressure on me, but I try and block it out and know that I still have to compete against my bull.”

But Beck ran into Bullet Proof, a snarling piece of nasty from Mossyrock Cattle Co., and he landed in the dirt like so many others on the night. The first evening of the two-day Pro Bull Riding event ended with 32 straight cowboys dumped in the dirt.

But the performance started with a far from ominous tone. Mariluch dropped into the chutes for the first ride of the evening and put up his 80 there to set the pace.

“I always like it when a guy rides right off the get-go right before me. It kind of gets me fired up,” Mariluch said. “So that’s always good for (the riders) after me, too. Probably gets them fired up.”

The three other scorers would come in the next 15 riders before the bulls established their dominance.

The Happy Canyon folk filled in the gaps between successful rides by cheering for the four Oregonians in the field, most notably Hermiston-bred Cody Ford. The local drew one of the loudest ovations despite falling short.

“You’ve got to love bull riding for your home town,” Ford said. “You always want to win when you’re close to home. I want to win every time I run my hand under the rope but it’s just that much more special when you’re at home.

“It’s kind of disheartening when you don’t get the job done then.”

The pro bull riders will be back in the arena this evening at 7 p.m. for another round of the most thrilling eight seconds in sports. The scores from Tuesday will carry over with the two-day winner holding the highest average on four heads of stock. That overall cowboy will take home an extra $4,194.75 for his troubles.

The rodeo action begins much earlier in the day with barrel racing at the Round-Up Grounds, starting at 9 a.m. before Wednesday night’s main course of bull riding.

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Contact AJ Mazzolini at ajmazzolini@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0839.

 


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